Head of Femur, hailing from Chicago (by way of Nebraska), have put their stamp on the music scene with their inventive and bold music. The octet, formed in 2001, have released their stunning debut album Ringodom of Proctor to critical acclaim. They take chances...missing sometimes, but usually hitting the nail on the head. Creativity is something they've earned.
Band members hail from such diverse bands such as Bright Eyes, Pinetop Seven, The Black Dahlias, Mayday, Commander Venus, Plastik Trumpet and Pablo's Triangle which makes it obvious when you listen to their music where they get their diversity from.
Matt Focht, Ben Armstrong, Mike Elsener and Matt Silcock talked with Livewire's Karen Bondowski recently about such things as love and war.
Livewire: Why the name Head of Femur?
Head of Femur: "The head of femur is a bone in your body. When Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, the cameramen were instructed to film Elvis' pelvis no lower than the head of femur. Thus, the head of femur is the point where rock and roll becomes sex, and we balance on top of it!"
Livewire: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
Head of Femur: I'd just say that it's very good and that we're very proud of it, and encourage them to hear the CD or go to one of our shows.
Livewire: How does your music fit into today's scene?
Head of Femur: Well, we like to think that we're a breath of fresh air . . .
Livewire: Nirvana or the Pixies?
Head of Femur: Neither! We kinda skip over both of 'em and go back to 60's and 70's.
Livewire: What prompted you guys to cover Brian Enos', The True Wheel?
Head of Femur: I guess what prompted us to cover it is Brian Eno's genius. Mike and Ben and Tiffany were in a Brian Eno cover band called The 801. This was a very promising unit, but it only lasted for one practice. "The True Wheel" has a grand total of four chords, so it was the most likely candidate to survive as a Head of Femur staple.
Livewire: Do you think people should be able to download music for free?
Head of Femur: Absolutely, because we like to download music for free. I think people should be fair and conscientious about it, but people aren't always like that, ourselves included.
Livewire: Whose to blame? The record label or the fans?
Head of Femur: When the record industry dumped the rich vinyl format in favor of little pieces of digitally encoded tin, they played into the hand of technological trendiness, and now they're paying the price: millions of MP3s, swarming around the record industry like locusts.
Livewire: If you were a record industry exec., what would you of done differently when Napster started to take off?
Head of Femur: I would've made CDs cheaper -- $17.98 for a single CD is just plain rude and no wonder people are going for MP3s instead -- but most importantly I would've put every effort into making each album an experience that can't be replicated by MP3s. This would involve aggressively bringing back the vinyl format on a mass-market scale, but it can be done with CDs too. The key is artwork and liner notes. Artwork and liner notes. I don't know why so many seem to have forgotten this.
Livewire: What is the state of music today?
Head of Femur: It's nuts. Music has gone totally global and it's now mostly television and internet-driven. To be a working musician isn't easy, with seemingly more people than ever competing over a tiny pie that is advertised by the media as something huge, glamorous, and exciting. All the big cities are dotted with clubs that have calendars dotted with bands that you've never heard of and they're barely drawing 40 people a night. In spite of this daunting and numbing state of affairs, we've got a band together that is making music that we can all really enjoy and believe in, so we're pretty lucky.
Livewire: How would you label your musical style?
Head of Femur: Art rock!
Livewire: Is there a consensus on which direction your music is going?
Head of Femur: Yes! Up!
Livewire: Is it all harmony?
Head of Femur: It's a lot of harmony, with a few flats and sharps, discordances, tone clusters, flatted fifths, suspended fourths -- you know, a little bit of everything.
Livewire: Matt, You've played drums for Bright Eyes, Do you plan on continuing to play with Bright Eyes or any other bands?
Head of Femur: Hopefully.
Livewire: Is it like a Tool/A Perfect Circle thing?
Head of Femur: No. We're not in shitty bands.
Livewire: Who would be your dream dinner guest, dead or alive?
Head of Femur: Any combination of the following: Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene, Richard Pryor, Lucy Liu, Bryan Ferry & Jerry Hall (while they were dating), Isaac Newton, Rudyard Kipling, Joe Krings.
Livewire: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Head of Femur: Being able to live comfortably near one of the nation's urban centers on a secret wooded compound where we work on music and entertain friends and loved ones. Sort of like Professor Xavier's school for mutants, or the place where Wu-Tang live in New Jersey.
Livewire: You seem to avoid politics in your music, why?
Head of Femur: No one avoids politics, but with us, it just never makes it into song.
Livewire: Do you vote?
Head of Femur: We are absolutely going to vote in 2004, to remove white-collar criminal George W. Bush from office. It's easily the most important election so far in our life.
Livewire: Do you support/disagree with the war in Iraq?
Head of Femur: We disagree with the war in Iraq intensely. The debilitating cost to the working class of America alone is reason enough, and would have been completely prohibitive to any administration with one iota of fiscal conscience. Then there's the nationally embarrassing born-again arrogance with which our administration denies their expensive blunder. And oh yeah, the egregious loss of human life, all just to get rid of a third-tier dictator that won't do oil business with us.
Livewire: Your passion is obviously music, what do you do when you're not thinking about music?
Head of Femur: We mostly crack jokes, but at least half of them are about music too.
Livewire: What are some of your eating habits while on the road?
Head of Femur: Eating on the road has its ups and downs. Usually it's just a comped veggie burger right there at the club. It's always nice to get the whole band to hit a really good Asian or Indian restaurant in whatever town, but more often than that it's just like gas station sandwiches and Sun chips.
Livewire: Are there any drugs or alcohol involved while touring?
Head of Femur: Are there ever NOT drugs or alcohol involved while touring?
Livewire: If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you like to be stranded with?
Head of Femur: The character Tom Hanks played in Castaway -- very resourceful. Anyone with excellent hunting and gathering skills.
Livewire: KISS has an "army," what do you guys have?
Head of Femur: Friends and loved ones.
Livewire: What would be your dream concert (of all time) to be openers for?
Head of Femur: The year is 1971. We are opening for Roxy Music (Eno is still in the group) and second on the bill is an upstart young band fronted by these two weirdo brothers from California called Sparks. Isn't that just who you thought we'd say?
More Head of Femur
Concert Review - Gunther Murphy's, Jan. 16, 2004
CD Review - Ringodom of Proctor