Headrush is a hardcore band from Columbus, Ohio and they take their roots seriously. I had my first opportunity to see them live a couple months ago in their hometown when they opened for Capsize at Double Happiness. The bill was stacked with local bands that night and it was amazing to see the camaraderie and support they showed for each other. Headrush drew the biggest crowd and the energy that they put into their live performance was given right back to them by the kids that were there to see the show. There was a full pit and so many people screaming their lyrics right back to them. Recently I had the opportunity to talk to vocalist Chris Lane about Headrush, their place in the hardcore community, and what being in a band means to him. You can read more about it below.
Chris is originally from Riverside, California, and it was there that he started going to shows when he was about thirteen. His father figure had been a punk kid when he was growing up, so Chris discovered bands like The Dead Kennedy’s, Operation Ivy, and Suicidal Tendencies through him. Because of the mix of genres at local venues like Chain Reaction and The Showcase Theater, he saw bands like Throwdown, Winds of Plague, and Impending Doom, and his interest in punk eventually led him to hardcore.
Now at 27, Chris is as deeply rooted in the scene as ever. As the vocalist for Headrush, he hopes that they can use their music as a platform to spread their message, a big part of which is to just be yourself. He says, “I feel like if you stand on a stage with a microphone and you don’t say something meaningful, if you don’t say something that’s real, I feel like you’re really stifling the opportunity to have a room of attention on your band or on your message.” Chris thinks that letting people know that you don’t have to be a certain way to be into a certain type of music is one of the most important things that Headrush can do as a band. “Don’t believe what people say it takes to be cool. Don’t justify how popular you are or how much relevance you have in your scene or your city by how many Instagram followers or how many Twitter followers you have. That’s not real life. The message that I like to say is ultimately be yourself.”
Getting involved in the hardcore scene as a teenager is what really helped Chris become completely himself in the first place. Like many of us, music was a big part of his life and the one place he felt like he fit in. “When I first started going to shows, I was a band geek kid and I didn’t have friends in high school. I wasn’t good with girls. And hardcore gave me a place to be myself. It didn’t matter what you looked like, it didn’t matter what bands you liked, nobody cared. This is a subculture that belongs to people who are outcasts. That’s what the point of hardcore is. So when I got into hardcore I didn’t have a voice and hardcore gave me a voice. It was very rebellious, so I was able to say I’m not gonna listen to everything everyone tells me. My teachers may be wrong. I need to figure out life for myself. Hardcore gave me the confidence to do that whereas other genres of music I was in made me feel like I had to be something else. Hardcore taught me to be myself.”
The hardcore scene in Columbus isn’t the biggest, but Headrush is a huge part of it. Supporting their fellow bands is important to them, and being true to their roots is really evident in their music and their actions as a band. Chris names Bonehead as one of the only other “true hardcore” bands in Columbus at the moment, but bands like Forced Hand, Pit Control and Deathsong are also local bands coming up right now. Chris sees the variety in the scene as an asset and says, “They are all our great friends and it’s really cool to be in a diverse scene with different styles of music cause they may not believe the same things we believe, but it’s cool to have the different people there around you and just kind of pushing you even if they don’t know they’re pushing you.” He goes on to mention that Headrush may do a small tour in the future with fellow Columbus band Everyone Leaves and that a lot of their fans are into hardcore as well, so that opens up doors for both Headrush and Everyone Leaves with the crossover between genres.
Although hardcore isn’t at the same level of popularity that it was in the 90’s and early 2000’s, it is still going strong and providing a place for people who may not have anywhere else that feels like home. Live shows have always been a huge part of that, and that’s where Chris says Headrush shines. I’ve seen it firsthand, and he’s completely right. He says, “I think a lot of people find something they like in our recordings, but when you see it live I think it gives it a different dynamic that you can’t put onto a tape or a CD or the internet. It’s something that has to be experienced.” But there are difficulties that come with being a ‘live band.’ “We kind of have to fight to get the attention that we want because we don’t have someone that might be really popular on the internet or something like that. Not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s just something that we don’t have. We work really hard to get the things that we want and the things that we need to do. And we rely solely on our live show and decent recordings.”
Relying solely on their live shows might work in their favor if Headrush has it in them to keep touring as much as they can. They might even be one of the bands that brings hardcore back to it’s peak again. In an oversaturated market, they have something special because they have heart. Chris explains it like this: “If a band is real and genuine, you’re gonna see them put themselves out there in a way the general population doesn’t necessarily understand. I mean try to explain this: You go to a show in somebody’s basement, you pay five dollars to see a band yell for fifteen or twenty minutes. Explain that to somebody who has maybe never heard of hardcore or punk or metal and they’re gonna look at you like your crazy, but to me and to you, that’s like my place. That’s where I feel the most comfortable. No matter what has happened in my life, I always go back to that. That’s where I belong. We really want to appeal to a generation that maybe hasn’t heard of hardcore before and that’s kinda the point of Headrush. We want to be a kid’s first hardcore band. We wanna be real and we wanna be honest and we wanna be able to tell them, ‘Hey this is how I got into it. If you like it, cool. These are some bands to listen to. And if you don’t like it then that’s cool too, we just love hanging out with you.’”
You can get a feel for what one of Headrush’s sets is like if you watch their new video for their song “II: Reality.” It was filmed and edited by Annie Deibel in their bass player’s basement. They invited a bunch of their friends and instead of playing through the music video track four or five times, they just played through their entire live set while Annie filmed and everyone else moshed and yelled and jumped around.
“II: Reality” is a track from Headrush’s second and most recent EP The Dream. They plan to push and support it as much as they can with a few small tours already in the works, the first with Louisville, Kentucky band Off Center. Even when planning tours, Headrush keeps a community-centered mindset. Chris says, “I think that bands like us just have to grind it out for sure. And there are a lot of bands out there that deserve a lot of attention who are doing that, so we’re trying to help them and in the process kind of help ourselves.”
The Dream is definitely worth a listen if you’re into bands like Rotting Out and The Rival Mob, but it’s also worth it if you’re not. Headrush brings honesty, heart, and an in your face attitude and sound to their music that anyone can appreciate. Chris says, “The one thing that we wanna do is just be very up front. None of our lyrics are metaphors, pretty much everything is literal and that’s how we want it to be. Our lyrics aren’t up for interpretation. It is literally what you’re reading.”
Headrush is unapologetically themselves in every aspect of their band, and they work hard to be able to do what they love to do. “I’m doing everything I can to make this dream come true. I’m not trying to be famous, but to play other cities is what I wanna do. I think that financially the hardest part of being in a band is how much money it costs to do it right and I think that’s probably every band’s biggest struggle. We work our asses off for the chance to play maybe a room full of ten kids in a different city. That’s what we live for.”
When I asked Chris what he was most of proud of in regards to Headrush, his answer surprised me. He mentioned kids coming out to see Headrush at shows where they didn’t know anyone else on the bill and the fact that their biggest supporters are also their friends, but mostly he talked about the pride that they feel for their friends in other bands when they accomplish something big. “The thing we’re most proud of is our friends. It’s cool to see your friend’s band get the attention they deserve. Our friends in Bonehead have been gaining traction. They’re about to go on tour with this band from Cincinnati who are also our friends called By Force and a band from Michigan called Spit Back and I really think that Bonehead is gonna go to the next level. We’re really proud to see our friends succeed and that’s probably what we’re most proud of. I know that isn’t an accomplishment of Headrush, but it’s just really cool to see your friends’ bands who are great get the exposure they need.”
The open-minded, selfless attitude that Chris and the rest of Headrush posses is something that you rarely see in the music industry, no matter the genre. With the influx of bands putting their stuff out there on the internet, there is no shortage of people trying to be cool and trying to impress to gain fans. But bands like Headrush will ultimately succeed because they have something that some of the flashy bands with 37k Twitter followers don’t. They’re genuine. They’re doing this because they know what it’s like to only feel like yourself when you’re surrounded by strangers and screaming along to a band in a venue with low ceilings and room for barely a hundred people. They know that those strangers next to you at a show can become your best friends.
Keep up to date on all things Headrush by liking their Facebook. You can also follow them on Twitter, and watch the video for “II: Reality” below. And consider picking up The Dream EP on bandcamp. You won’t regret it!