HEADRILLAZ performing alongside PEACE HARVEST , MIDDLEFIELD and others at Matrixx (425 Adelaide West), tonight (Thursday, September 11). $5-$10. www.playrecords.net Rating: NNNNN
Sometimes getting that big record deal isn't all it's cracked up to be. London-based Headrillaz (brothers Caspar and Darius Kedros) were hoping for good things when V2 Music picked them up during the Chemical Brothers/Fat Boy Slim feeding frenzy of the late 90s, but after releasing their first full-length album (1997's Coldharbour Rocks) they soon found out about the record industry's short attention span.
"We'd gotten these big record deals and we were trying to figure out how to make it work for a larger audience," remembers Caspar from his London studio.
"We tried mellowing out our sound a bit, toning down some of the heavier sounds and adding more vocals, but the label was restructuring and kept putting off the releases."
In the meantime, the big beat sound they were initially associated with had lost favour with the British press, and the Kedros brothers were getting more interested in their electro-breakbeat influences. They also started getting offers to do music for films, and realized they could mine their archives of shelved material and finally get some of it released.
Most recently, the track Everything Good Is Bad has been included in the soundtrack to Party Monster, the docudrama about "club kid killer" Michael Alig, starring Macaulay Culkin. The song, which features vocalist Ricky Barrow (of the band Aloof, and more recently known for his collaborations with British techno icon Luke Slater), has actually already been used in another film, Formula 51, and received better reviews than the movie did in most cases.
"It's nice doing film scores, because you need to make a lot of music quickly and it all has to serve different purposes - you can't do the same thing over and over. There's also something satisfying about working with a team and toward a defined goal."
Headrillaz may not have released much new material under that name lately, but Caspar Kedros has kept busy DJing and doing studio work, and his brother has gone back to doing live sound for bands, which is pretty much how things started in the first place.
In earlier days, Darius did sound for bands that wanted an electronic touch, and recommended his brother to work the synths and turntables. Gradually, they became known for being able to put on a good live electronic show.
Newer Caspar Kedros projects include tracks as ECT, which focuses on the electro-breaks side of things, and as South Central Systems, which mashes up electro-breaks with R&B and hiphop.
It's this newer work, much of it unreleased, that Headrillaz will showcase this week. Unfortunately, they won't be performing live, and Caspar will do most of the DJing, as Darius hasn't touched turntables for almost a year.