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PopEntertainment.com > Feature Interviews - Music > Feature Interviews A to E > American Head Charge

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AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE

by Bill Henhoeffer

At the age of six, most people haven’t chosen the type of music they liked, much less made the decision that they want to be in a rock band. Well, Chad Hanks from American Head Charge isn’t like most people. Music was always there for him… both his dad and uncle were radio disc jockeys. His uncle happened to be the local rock station DJ. One day his uncle brought him a Kiss album. Hanks has been hooked ever since.

A few months later one of Hanks’ father’s friends brought up the idea of music lessons. He jumped at the chance, optioned for guitar lessons. He has gone to three different music schools, and has been playing since age six. By the time he was out of school, Hanks decided to start a band because he had been involved with music for so long that he just couldn’t do anything else.

The name, American Head Charge, makes most people think they are a political band or a band with a cause; they are nothing like that. AHC has no political issues to fight; they just thought the name up, liked it, and went with it.

AHC actually started in a rehab hospital. "We were just bad people," smiled Hanks. He met Martin Cock, the lead singer of AHC and became best friends in that rehab. As part of their treatment, they had to write a song, and decided to do it together. Later the friends recruited people and it evolved into the band you have before you now, with Wayne Kile and David Rogers on guitar, Christopher Emery on drums and Aaron Zilch and Justin Fouler handling the "noize triggering unit and audio meat grinder."

American Recordings was their first choice for a label. They had talked to a few others but liked the family-oriented vibe they got from American. The label have two people in particular working with them that are really into the band’s sound. AHC knew the label would nurture them and they wouldn’t just get dropped for a dumb reason, and they liked that feeling of comfort.

The debut album’s title, The War of Art, is a play on name of the book The Art of War by Sun Tzu, an over 2000-year-old Chinese book on warfare which Hanks studied at the clinic. In the end, they chose the title because it can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The striking album cover… which features a tank about to run over a baby with an American flag in the background… also means nothing in particular, but it was provocative. "We just thought it looked cool," Hanks chuckled.

The inspiration for their music comes from life itself… people around them and experiences they have gone through in their lives. "Playing the music live turns me into an animal on stage," Hanks commented. "I’m proud of the album, of course I would have loved to have had six more months to tweak and remix the album but we didn’t wanna be another Def Leppard and have our album come out in 2008."

When asked to pick his favorite song, Hanks couldn’t. He described his music and songs as his children. "You can’t not love them all," he said.

The album was actually recorded in an old mansion once owned by magician Harry Houdini. "It wouldn’t have been the same if we recorded it in a ‘real’ studio," Hanks said. Everything was right there for the band in the house. They could record, stay up late and drink beer, wake up around noon, and start recording again around one. "There was one point where I didn’t leave the house for a period of twelve or thirteen days," exclaimed Hanks.

You haven’t truly experienced the theatre of the macabre that is American Head Charge until you have seen a live show. From real pig head props (which the local crews no longer want to handle) to the insane mosh pits, the band takes the theatrics of old Alice Cooper and move it into the new millennium. "It makes it one hundred times easier to play when the crowd is really into it," says Hanks. During the Ozzfest 2001 tour, the group’s throwing themselves completely into the show got them into trouble. At the very first gig, they shot off a shotgun. The promoters were not amused, and threatened to kick AHC off the tour and even have them arrested if they ever pulled a stunt like that again.

Hanks likes playing indoor shows better. He explains the sound quality is better and easier to manipulate. The people are more into the music because they are more comfortable in the surroundings and it brings them closer with the band, making it easier to play.

In their constant attempt to shock and test audiences, AHC had even burned a few American flags at shows. But since the tragedy of September 11th, the band recognize that the gesture carries even more weight than it had. "It would kind of be an overkill if we did," said Hanks, "we only did it before to piss some people off."  Beyond the fact that their fans may find it offensive, there are just to many crazy people in the world. The band doesn’t want to have to worry about some guy waiting for them at the tour bus to carry out the patriotism of the country. "I don’t care enough about that piece of cloth to have some crazy guy come after me," answered Hanks.

One thing Hanks wishes they could do for their live shows is play some of their slower, more cerebral songs, such as "Nothing Gets Nothing" and "Breathe In Bleed Out." Hanks finds it easy to put together a heavy metal set. However, sometimes he feels the audience has certain expectations of the band and may not appreciate the music as much. Many people just go in expecting the radio hit, and are not willing to delve as deeply to experience the whole album.

In fact, Hanks feels the whole metal scene now… and music in general… just sucks. "There have only been a handful of bands that have come out in the last three years that I actually like," said Hanks. He grew up with older metal and hard rock bands such as Slayer, Kiss, Judas Priest, and David Lee Roth-era Van Halen. Now Mudvayne, System of a Down, and SlipKnot came immediately to his mind, but he’s troubled when trying to think of more.

The band just isn’t willing to compromise their vision for airplay. Hanks understands the whole idea of making a music video and using MTV as a marketing tool. However, he also knows there are other ways to get the music to the people without MTV. "Metallica did it, SlipKnot did it," said Hanks giving a few examples. AHC actually have already made a music video but no one wants to play it. It’s not that they don’t like the music or the song necessarily but it’s mainly because the video is gory and the content was deemed not suitable for the taste of MTV.

A friend of mine wanted to know why the band were so cool. Initially Hanks didn’t know what to say. He said that it was one of the hardest questions he’s ever had to answer. After thinking for a few seconds, he responded by saying, "We are all well adjusted human beings, and aren’t assholes, that’s what makes us all cool people."

If you haven’t seen these guys live, I highly suggest you check them out next time they come around to your town. Also, if you don’t own this album your missing out on a good thing and you should go out and get it! These guys are dynamic performers and there is no doubt they will be out for quite a long time. To find out more about them check out their website at http://www.headcharge.com.

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Copyright 2001 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Revised: March 11, 2017.