The Muffin Heads are a trio formed in Essex in 2015 and musically are a “rock/punk/grunge sandwich”. I was lucky enough to interview the band the day after their first EP, “Don’t Give the People What They Want” dropped.
Here Pete, Bex and Nick discuss the origin of their band name, what happens when you park in a no parking zone and how they always end up with cheese.
Erin: Ok, how did you end up with the name, “The Muffin Heads”?
Pete: Well, we tried a whole bunch of names; some of them were pretty profane. One was Fetus Eaters, but there’s actually a band already called that! I was watching this medical documentary and they were talking about doctors who used to drill holes in people’s heads to release swelling. The brain would then actually push through the hole and the doctors referred to these patients as, “the muffin heads” because it resembled a muffin baking in a cup. Bex and I went, “that’s it!”
Bex: True story!
Erin: When and why did you end up playing the instrument you did?
Nick: I actually started with saxophone. I played saxophone up until grade 3 and I hated it. I wanted to make noise and started playing drums. I got drum sticks and was literally drumming on everything in sight-pillows, furniture, etc. I got this cheap £100 drum kit and taught myself to play. I never received lessons or anything like that. I was into metal when I was younger.
Bex: He had hair down to HERE.
Nick: So that is what I learned how to play. Figuring out how they got those sounds!
Erin: I can hear the metal influence in your drumming. Its super-fast and you hit HARD. It’s quite impressive!
Nick: I then spent like £1000 on a red Mapex kit, which I play now and I have one floor tom, one hanging tom, bass drum and snare. I use Sabian cymbals – high-hat, crash, ride and china and I use Vic Firth sticks with a nylon tip and I have a double kick pedal. I love it!!!
Pete: I started playing when I was a kid. I started off with a cheap guitar and graduated to what I play now which is a black Dean V Select. My amps are a Mesa Boogie F30 and a Fender Frontman, which I both got second hand. I have those linked with an ABY pedal. Pedal wise, my favourite is a ProCo Rat which is a super cheap distortion pedal. I also use an old Muff pedal and a Ibanez tubescreamer. Then there’s the Mega Berkatron by Pickletech which is a bitcrusher/noise maker that appears at the start and end of “Bang Says The Gun” quite prominently.
Bex: I started out playing guitar then I started playing bass when I went to uni and Nick stopped playing drums when he went to uni and I had a Yamaha electroacoustic that I used to play now and again. When we started up the band, I stuck with the Yamaha and played that through about a year. The first singles were played with that Yamaha, then I basically decided I needed something a bit better and I got my Fender which is a Fender P Bass Special, it’s got a P bass pick up.
Pete: It’s a MexiCAN, not a MexiCON.
Bex: It’s got both the pick-ups, a jazz pick up and a precision pick-up, so it’s split pick-ups. Yeah, it’s really nice!
Pete: It’s fucking LOUD.
Bex: It made a big difference to the sort of sound that I can get out of my amp and the pedals. Pedal wise, I never play clean. I’ve got a big Muff, HA (laughing ensues,) and I’ve got a pedal from Pickletech which is called a Death Hooter which is another distortion pedal. Then I’ve got something called a Screwtater which is a crusher, which I only use now and again but I want to use it more, but need to find the right place to use it. So yeah, that’s pretty much it.
Nick: And she sings.
Bex: And I sing as well.
Erin: Do you guys (meaning Nick and Pete,) do any back-up vocals? But you don’t really have back-up vocals do you?
Pete: A little bit. Live we do. On the record it’s probably not so obvious, but that has nothing to do with the mixes, more because Bex does a lot of the backing vocals.
Bex: Nick doesn’t sing.
Nick: NO. It’s too complicated.
Erin: Alright, what are your major influences or inspiration? What made you guys go; “FUCK. I just HAVE to do this?”
Nick: The Offspring! Growing up that was the first CD I bought. Foo Fighters, anything Dave Grohl touches I’ll buy it, I love it. I love the drumming in System of a Down.
Pete: What if he touched like, a turd?
Nick: He could touch a piece of shit and I would still buy it!
Erin: For a while there Dave Grohl was pretty much in like EVERY band in some way or another!
Nick: He had Probot…
Bex: Ohhh Probot…
Nick: Them Crooked Vultures, Avenged Sevenfold and Trivium in my metal days. The drumming in metal is just ridiculous. You listen to it and you’re like, “I wanna do that!” Then you try to do it and you’re like, “I can’t do that!”
Erin: I’ve never been able to comprehend how they drum so fast and how they’re able to keep the rhythm sustained.
Nick: You loop the same thing over and over again. Like a robot.
Pete: My influences, there’s so much. Definitely the Sex Pistols, they were a big influence, really, Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age, I LOVE Queens, I like Mondo Generator, there’s a band called Svetlanas, they’re cool as fuck.
Erin: YES! I love them and some of the best people and artists you’ll ever meet!
Pete: So that’s kind of the more punky stuff. I don’t know, I’ve probably missed out on shitloads. I’m really bad on the spot. There are a couple of albums me and Bex got really inspired by. One of which is called “Sun Trash”. It’s not very well known. It’s really good.
Erin: Is it a band or that’s the name of the album?
Pete: It’s a Sean Wheeler (from Throw Rag,) album. He released it under the guise Sun Trash, as a sort of band name. It’s such a great record. It sounds great. And it’s just got a real fucking sound to it, you know?
Erin: I’m going to have to look into that because I’m not familiar with that work of his.
Bex: You should listen to it. It’s so good.
Pete: I reckon I play it every week.
Erin: Oh wow. It seems to be a really big influence to you.
Nick: Bex has got more “out there”, no, not “out there,” but kind of like worldly influences I guess I would call them.
Bex: You make it sound like its Australian aborigine music or something!
Erin: Hey, there is nothing wrong with didgeridoos!
Bex: My major influence is didgeridoos! No, really David Bowie is my favourite artist of all time. That’s for sure.
Bex: I was about to say Motorhead. Love Motorhead. I really liked The Distillers. I loved them when I first heard them.
Erin: They just announced some U.S dates last week, so I would anticipate they would be coming to the U.K. at some point.
Bex: I hope so. I never got a chance to see them before. I saw her (Brody Dalle,) when she did her solo album, when she came over here for that. That was good. I only saw her play like four tracks. It was in a record store that was absolutely tiny. Really, really good though. She sounded great. Who else do I like? I tell you what, I listen to loads of stuff. I listen to absolutely loads of stuff. I LOVED Eminem when I was growing up. I don’t know why, but I don’t like him now. (Asks band,) What else do I listen to? This is pretty hard when you have to stop and think about it.
Nick: Love reggae. I listen to reggae all the time.
Bex: Oh yeah, Nick listens to loads of reggae.
Nick: Fat Freddy’s Drop. Don’t know if you’ve heard them. They’re a New Zealand band. Bunch of session musicians got together and just started making music. And you watch them live and they’ll probably play three songs and jam for about an hour and a half. It’s like the coolest thing ever.
Erin: I’ll have to check that out as well. You guys are giving me a list of music to go investigate! I love it!
Bex: We went to go and see a band, where are they from?
Pete: They are from I think the east coast.
Bex: Well anyway, they’re called Ho99o9 (pronounced HORROR,) we went to go see them and they were SO good. They were amazing. They’re like this weird cross between hip hop and punk. And they were absolutely mental. That was last year.
Erin: Sometimes musical infusion like that ends up being really, really amazing. When it’s types of music you would never imagine working together.
Pete: They are so good. We saw them in Brighton and they were so loud, they were fucking insane. I’d love to see them again.
Bex: I’m trying to think of who I’ve even seen. Mondo Generator is one we’ve seen quite a few times. The Dwarves.
Pete: I love the Dwarves.
Erin: They are amazing live!
Pete: I’m actually going to see them again in a few weeks. They are playing in Italy and a couple of dates in Germany. I’ve been asking, “Can I do it?” Can I get over there and see them? Because they’re not coming over here to the U.K. I’d like to see them again. They are really good. They are really funny.
Bex: I love Nick Oliveri. We have seen him play so many times. When he does his Death acoustic, we’ve seen him do that quite a few times. And then we’ve seen him with Mondo Generator a couple of times as well. Basically, I’m a big fan of the desert rock scene. That’s where a lot of my influences come from and a lot of the music I listen to. And Bowie.
Erin: That’s a really good eclectic mix of music from all of you. You guys have been together now for what, three years?
Bex: Since the end of 2015, about two and a half years.
Erin: I always ask the bad part of this question first, to get the shit out of the way and share the growth you experienced from it-what failures or disappointments have you guys experienced?
Nick: The Square closing in Harlow.
Pete: Oh shit, yeah.
Nick: There’s a venue here in Harlow, close by to us, called The Square and it’s had so many big names play there. That’s where I grew up going to live music at 13, 14, and 15 years old. It shut down, what, a year ago?
Pete and Bex: Ugh, yes.
Nick: They wanted to knock it down and build flats.
Pete: We actually played there, it will be a year to the day on this upcoming Thursday, the 26th. We were one of the last people to play there. It’s just one of those things. Another live music venue gone, you know? They were a really big venue.
Bex: It’s terrible for us because we’ve now got no music venue at all here in Harlow. There is one opening up, but it’s not a dedicated live music venue. You’ve got pubs that will put bands on and that sort of thing, but not like an actual live music venue with a proper stage and sound system and that’s what they do. They do MUSIC. They don’t do anything else. We lost that last year because when we formed and then Nick took over on the drums last year, we didn’t have time to really make the most of playing there before it shut down.
Nick: I think we got two gigs in there, which was cool.
Bex: And I think it’s a shame for us because we missed that chance for building a local fan base and that sort of thing. We have to go into London basically, to get good sound and then it’s difficult because it’s hard to get people you know to come and see you play.
Pete: But every now and then you meet someone that has come from like three hours away and they took the train in. We’ve got a guy up to see us in a couple of months in London who’s going to travel like three hours just to come and see us play. I mean three hours on a train? That’s ridiculous and absolutely amazing that someone would do all that just to see us play. So there are people out there who are willing to do it. You’re trying to create a fan base in an area that is not your own. It’s hard.
Bex: London is so saturated with bands.
Pete: It’s a saturated market. Having said that, there are some REALLY good bands out there.
Erin: So, if that is the shit, then what would be some of your successes, your “fuck yes’s?”
Nick: The tour. The tour we did last year.
Bex: We organised, well Pete basically organised, a little U.K. tour last September and we went off and played ten dates. It was the first time we ever played nights back to back. We went off in my little Ford Fiesta driving around the country.
Pete: Nick’s feet were hanging out the window. (Nick is the world’s tallest drummer at 6 feet 8 inches!) The thing is, it was good because we realised we can get on for a longer period of time. It was a bit of a trial really, because we hadn’t tried it before. We’ve done a couple of gigs here and a couple of gigs there, but never have done a string of dates. Because that is a big test, isn’t it?
Erin: Yes, it is! I have experienced it! Being in a car/van with everybody is hard enough and then if there is just one girl, dealing with the farting and the piss bottles and the snoring and driving with hangovers. You’re stuck. You can’t get away when you’re on tour. Not a lot of privacy!
Bex: It was a lot of fun. We had a great time. We went from Essex to London to Bristol to Hull.
Nick: And we did Sheffield.
Erin: Wow. You guys covered most of the country, starting from the south and working your way up north.
Bex: Up to Newcastle. Newcastle was hilarious.
Pete: Newcastle was good times!
Erin: Ok, you need to tell me about Newcastle!
Bex: We went and played the gig which was at Trillians, which is a renowned venue in Newcastle, the guy that runs it is really cool, named Dave, afterwards everyone was really friendly, people were coming over and buying bits of merch and that was really cool and then some random guy took us to someone’s party.
Nick: It was a birthday party or something.
Bex: We thought he was going to take us to an afters bar or something and we thought, “Ok, cool,” but he took us to someone’s house! And they had like six people round and they were just having this really quiet get together and we ate all their cheese.
Erin: Wait, was this the kind of party that served like cheese platters?
Bex: Yeah! They had a cheese platter and we ate it all and then we left, we were really good house guests!
Nick: And there was X Box.
Bex: We played X Box til like four in the morning.
Pete: Then we had to get down to Nottingham like the next day and it was a nightmare getting into Nottingham. It was a fine journey but that last ten minutes…
Bex: It’s got a one way street system.
Pete: We parked the car and offloaded and we were staying in a hotel that night. Pretty much as soon as we arrived, it was time to take everything to the gig. It was hard times but it was a really, really good show and night. Nottingham was fantastic. We played with two good bands called Minotaur and Your Mom and they were really, really great guys and it was just an all-around good night.
Erin: Do you guys have any shows coming up?
Pete: We’ve had a little break over the festive period and Bex has had an operation on her hand.
Erin: I saw a picture of that on your Instagram page! Did it happen from playing?
Bex: No, I had a ganglion, it’s like a cyst and usually you get them on your wrist but for some reason I got it on my palm. It was causing me a few issues so the doctor decided it had to come out and I was supposed to have the operation in November but I couldn’t make the date because we went up to Edinburgh and the rearrange date was three days before Christmas and it fit in really well with us having a bit of break. It allowed us to write some new stuff. We didn’t want to book anything in case I had any issues after the operation and didn’t recover as quickly as anticipated. I played tonight for the first time and it seems ok! I had stitches and took that horrible picture just to prove I was really out of action. The 24th of February is going to be our first date playing in 2018. It’s the town over from where we live, Bishop Stortford. They revamped the venue that was there and it was pretty good before so hopefully it’s going to be even better and its being run as a proper music venue so there will be live music three or four nights a week, I think, instead of just the odd Friday or Saturday night. It’s being run by a promoter that runs a venue called The Horn in St. Albans. Fingers crossed this will become our new proper local venue.
Erin: How far is this new venue from where you guys are in Harlow?
Bex: Maybe fifteen minutes away? Six miles away? It should be good. And we are in the process of booking another adventure sometime this year.
Pete: It’s a nightmare, you probably know what I’m talking about actually, doing the booking ourselves; we are contacting venues and sort of saying, “You’ve not heard of us but we are really good!”
Erin: You’ve gotta sell yourself and it’s not always easy and a bit awkward. But if you’re confident in yourself and your band and your abilities, then they buy into it.
Pete: I end up calling a lot of places up by finding their numbers on the internet and I bug them that way because they find it difficult to hide behind a phone versus email. Email they can ignore quite easily. I like to call and speak to them and hassle them that way. I’d really like to do dates in Europe if we could. It’s a big ask, but that would be good.
Erin: I know there are decent promoters/bookers in Europe that don’t gouge bands with percentages so if I can think of anyone or more importantly, if the READERS can think of or know of anyone they should definitely shoot you guys an email or message through your Facebook page. (Contact info at the end of article.) I’m sure you guys would probably do really well in Germany.
Pete: Germany wouldn’t be too difficult to do.
Bex: We have a few friends in Germany, so we have a few sofas to sleep on. A lot of the venues have accommodation in Germany, don’t they? Like inside the actual venue? A little flat above?
Erin: Yes. Some of them do. It’s sort of like a hostel, bunk bed situation. You’ve got the stage and then a floor or two up you have a room or two and it works for some bands because you don’t have to worry about loading out right after you play necessarily so if you’ve had a long trip it can be very helpful. And they feed you REALLY well in Germany! Actually, all over Europe they feed you really well!
Bex: We’ve definitely heard of that over in Germany, but not here in the U.K. We’ve had some really, really generous people and we’ve had some really…
Erin: Stingy bastards?
Pete: We’ve definitely experienced the whole spectrum. When you get out there when you go to different towns you really see the extremes.
Bex: Going up North, it’s much nicer playing there then it is playing down south.
Pete: They’re a bit more old school.
Bex: In London you’re lucky if your promoter even turns up. The nicest people you meet in London are the other bands!
Erin: Do you have any funny stories to share? A lesson learned perhaps?
Nick: Don’t leave your car parked in a no parking zone!
Erin: Oh no, don’t tell me you got towed!
Nick: I left my car parked blocking some entrance and during our set, the owner comes up on the mic and says, “Whoever has parked their car there needs to move it!” I was like, yep! That’s me! So I had to get my keys and give them to my girlfriend to move my car for me.
Erin: While you were playing?!?
Nick: Yes, mid-set! It was hilarious.
Bex: That was your first gig with us.
Pete: That was great.
Erin: Ok, let’s talk about the new EP. How did it come about? When did you start working on it?
Bex: “Bang Says the Gun” was the first song we ever wrote. I wrote the lyrics when we went to Amsterdam for a weekend. And Pete wrote the riff on an acoustic guitar. It just went from there.
Pete: I think when Nick joined the band, once that the songs we had already were learned and we started playing, there was a period of a few weeks where we didn’t have a lot going on and we just seemed to come up with at least two of those songs on the EP really quickly, they were just churning out. I think we did “Fuck and Fight”, “Cleanse” which a song that isn’t on the LP and “Don’t Give the People What They Want” really quickly.
Nick: “Here Is My Notice” took a little while longer because it’s a bit fancier.
Bex: It’s got a lot of bits to it.
Nick: That is probably our most musically creative song on the EP.
Pete: Thing is, it came quickly. All of the songs came really quickly. We’re talking, what, two rehearsals?
Erin: It was one of those magical instances when it all gelled. Everything came together creatively for you guys.
Pete: You go through phases. Sometimes you just pluck something out of the air and it’s a song straight away. We’ve got things that we’ve been fucking around with for months and you’re like, “ah there’s something there,” but you can’t quite grab it. Those three songs just seem to have come out quick and they just seemed to knit nicely together. We only had enough money to make an EP. So we thought, what can we put together that’s going to give the best kind of package really? “Don’t Give the People What They Want” as a title track, just lent itself to be the whole message really.
Erin: It’s like a whirlwind of sound, energy and anger. You pulled something off. You really did.
Pete: Cool. (Laughter ensues.)
Nick: Awww shucks…
Bex: “Fuck or Fight” is my favourite.
Pete: I can’t wait to do the video for that one.
Bex: I’ve got some good ideas for a video for that.
Erin: You guys did an amazing video for “Bang Says the Gun” at the end of last year!
Bex: Yes. We wanted to release it as a single before the full EP. We did the video in this room (the studio they are in Skyping from, which is a regular, studio space,) We’ve got a friend who did it who is just fantastic, his name is Matt. He did our first single video, “Queen Bitch.” We all had this idea of how we wanted the video for “Bang Says the Gun” to be and we realised we could easily do it by transforming the studio space. We got a big, black screen up and messed around for about six hours.
Pete: A lot of different takes. Matt just made the magic really.
Erin: It is really professional looking; I noticed that from the start of the video. He definitely knows what he is doing.
Bex: He’s got all the proper gear and all the ideas as well.
Pete: He has this uncanny ability, if you just say something to him, he fucking GETS IT. It’s really hard to explain that, but if you’re trying to describe what something should look like it’s really hard for the other person to interpret it, but every time he speaks to you, he sees exactly what you see, but he makes it better. He understands the look we want and are going for.
Bex: The image.
Pete: I hate that term. But in terms of style of the video, trying to make it punchy, make it a bit like our live show really, he just gets it.
Bex: And we didn’t have to buy anything for it! We fed him pizza. That was basically it!
Erin: Well, you can’t argue with that price!
Bex: Very, very good price! Lots of cheese! Again; there’s the cheese!
Erin: The clickbait for this article will be, THE BAND THAT LOVES CHEESE. What was your big inspiration for the EP?
Pete: There was a moment that beautifully describes it. We tried to contact someone to play our music and she gave us a bit of shit basically, she’s a radio DJ, and that made us pissed off, really.
Bex: That’s why I wrote “Fuck and Fight”!
Pete: It added a lot of fuel to an already burning fire and the whole thing is being pissed off at people.
Nick: Exactly! “Here’s My Notice” is about work shit, “Fuck and Fight” is stop telling me what to do, “Bang Goes the Gun” don’t call me that, I wanna be what I wanna be, “Don’t Give the People What They Want” is self-explanatory. It’s depressing and angry really!
Bex: Yeah, it’s a pretty angry album.
Pete: The idea behind “Don’t Give the People What They Want” is about how we are all fucking blind and we are led by the echelons of society, the big wigs, and the government cunts. It’s about being a sheep basically, being on four legs, not two. That’s what it’s about for me. That’s what we started writing about.
Erin: When did you start recording the EP?
Bex: March of last year.
Pete: This time last year we were just smashing them out.
Bex: It took us ages to release it because we really wanted to do a video. We didn’t find the time because we went off and played Camden Rocks Festival, then we had booked a tour, life just got in the way.
Erin: So at your live shows, will you have the EP available? What about online?
Nick: Yes on CD. We have tshirts, stickers, badges. All available at the shows.
Bex: We have the first single available as well, but that’s limited, there’s only about thirty of those left.
Nick: People can message us on Facebook and we can send the EP or whatever merch they want out and they can pay via PayPal.
Erin: When can we expect a full length album out from you guys?
Pete: It will be nice if this EP can fund our next album. That would be ideal.
Erin: And people can find you on Spotify and purchase through iTunes?
Bex: Yes-everything. Amazon music, Google Play, everywhere.
Erin: So, in closing, you have the shows coming up in February and then you’re playing Camden Rocks in June?
Pete: Yes and we’re trying to book as much as possible. We want to play EVERYWHERE. We don’t care where it is, we just want to play. Make as much noise as possible.
Erin: That’s a good attitude to have! Thank you so much for taking the time out of your rehearsal to let me flap my gums and ask too many questions. The new EP is great and I’m sure we will be seeing a lot of you in 2018!
Bex, Pete, Nick: Yes! And you’re welcome!
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