DUNCAN REID (ex-The BOYS) is back with The BIG HEADS and a fantastic new record (“The Difficult Second Album”) out on Wanda Records. We had to ask him a few questions about the band, the album, The BOYS, second albums and French literature!
How would you compare “The Difficult Second Album” to the first one? Was it that difficult?
No. it wasn’t difficult at all. There’s a saying in the music industry that 2nd album’s are difficult because, whereas you have years to write the first album, you then only have a short time to write the 2nd one. But we don’t follow the music business rules because we put our own albums out and so take as long as we want.
I love both albums but they are different. The first is more “Boys” like (which is good!). The second is more me (which is also good!). Both are a reflection of my life because that’s what I know the most about.
There’s lot of arrangements reminding of 80s pop and 70s glam. Did you have a precise idea of how you wanted the album to sound before recording it?
Yes, but it changed. At the beginning Tony Barber, the producer, asked me what I wanted the album to sound like. I’ve always admired the production on the Foo Fighters records so I said I wanted to sound like them. As we got into the record we went for different influences on different songs, from Gary Newman through the Smiths/Byrds and even Supertramp. I’d say the biggest sound influence was Chris Isaak, though.
Can you introduce your band The BIG HEADS?
There’s me, the Peter Pan of Punk in a pink suit. Alex Gold, the man of whom people ask “is he your son?”, Multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire and teller of terrible, long jokes. Sophie Danger Powers, the most glamourous chicken lover ever to come out of Wales, and Ciara Lavers, banger of the drums and a Siren on the side.
Some of the songs on the album could easily be the soundtrack for a movie or TV shows/series. Have some of your songs already been used this way?
Unfortunately no, but they should be!
You’ve started touring for the album promotion. How has it been so far? Are you satisfied with the live versions of the songs? What are some of your favourite ones to play?
I love the live versions. We are a very energetic live band and the reaction has been great wherever we go. My live favourite at the moment is Long, Long gone. I have to play a melodia live on it. It’s a keyboard you blow into and sounds a bit like an accordion. Very challenging!
I guess that many BOYS fans must come to your shows… How many BOYS songs do you usually play during a gig?
Yes. We always get Boys fans and it’s great to see them. At the moment we play 7 Boys songs, including “First Time” of course, written by the great Honest John Plain and a song I’ll always be honoured to have sung the record of.
I read on the excellent Über Rock that Honest John Plain contributed to “C’Est La Vie”, how exactly?
Mainly in the middle 8 of the song but he also came up with the line “Life’s a mother”. There was a funny thing on the chorus. I’d thought of the line “Oh Sha lalalee, C’est la Vie” but dismissed it as too like the Small Faces song. When I played the verses to John and said “what do you think of for a chorus?” he said: “you should go: Oh Sha lalalee, C’est la Vie”. Great minds think alike!
Can you think of any second albums among your favourites?
Ooh I haven’t thought. Nirvana’s “Nevermind” was much better than their first one but the classic 2nd album of all time was The Ramones’.
Last band you enjoyed live?
The best live band I’ve seen in recent years were the Jim Jones Revue. What a shame they broke up.
“La Delicatesse” by David Foenkinos. Actually I’m lying. I’m currently reading “Cien Anos de Soledad” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez but I did read “La Delicatesse” in French you’ll be glad to know. I think French is a great language for literature. Better than Spanish and German although I might think that because I speak French better than those 2 languages. There’s a certain dry but charming wit to French. I read “Le Vieux Qui Ne Voulait Pas Fêter Son Anniversaire” and “Le Soleil Se Lève Aussi” in French which are written by Swedish and American writers respectively. I suspect the French versions are better than the originals.
Where are you going to tour next?
Chicago, Milwaukee and Indianapolis! Can’t wait. The Big Heads first time in the US. We’ve got to get to France. It’s my second home after all. I spend a lot of time in the Roussillon and if I didn’t love London so much that is where I would be.