Artist Spotlight :: Alec A. Head

Bio

Alec A. Head

Alec is an actor/musician based out of NYC, where he ekes out an existence as the frontperson/founder/guitarist for atmospheric, avant-garde rock/metal outfit Ghostbound. Additionally, he was a member of Brooklyn-based psychedelic, blackened doom outfit Kosmodemonic from 2013 to 2018, having contributed guitar parts and even a few riffs for both of their full-length albums. In 2021 alone, he was able to take part in two very different releases in the form of Ghostbound's new EP, Extended Play For My Sweet Mary Thyme as well as the long-gestating new full-length by Kosmodemonic, Liminal Light (released by Red Nebula and Transylvanian Tapes, respectively).

He and Ghostbound are currently hard at work on the next full-length record in addition to his pursuits as an actor for both theater and film/tv.

What/Who inspired you to pick up your instrument?

The guitar, as we all know, is an inherently cool-looking instrument, though it is hard to pinpoint an exact moment where I decided that it was the instrument for me. In fact, one might argue that I am still struggling with this very idea. I was given a tiny nylon-string acoustic for Christmas when I was around 10 years old, and I would use that guitar to learn many Beatles songs in addition to a few Monty Python musical numbers (the first being "The Lumberjack Song", as I recall). Over the next couple years, I would take random songs in to my guitar teacher, who would then help me figure out how to play them, break them down theoretically, and teach me new techniques. Until high school, I never approached the guitar as a means to write music; it was more of a diversionary tool than anything.

High school was a very fertile period for me. I discovered an entire glut of bands that approached the guitar in a way that I am still trying to tackle. I discovered rather quickly that what I wanted to be, first and foremost, was a songwriter, and that I wanted to create the kind of music I had only ever heard in my head; I wanted to create an all-encompassing, cinematic form of rock music. It would be many, many years before I could realize my ambitions, but the guitar became a near-obsession for me from that point forward. I was listening to bands like Agalloch, Ulver, Fields of the Nephilim, The Durutti Column, King Crimson, The Cure, The Smiths, Killing Joke, and too many others to count. I wanted to treat the guitar as a textural instrument as opposed to a wank-machine.

What piece of musical advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time to the beginning of your musical journey?

I daresay I would tell young Alec to acquire a better sense of discipline when practicing and to ground himself in music theory a little more deeply. It took me a long, long time to get to the point where I would be comfortable with my own abilities as a songwriter. Additionally, I would try to get him to stop being so damned "tone-dependent" and just WRITE. Good music does not just happen. One has to really work at it.

What keeps you excited about playing?

The joy of creation, really. I will sometimes play just to relax myself. Though I primarily play to write music, there are times when all I need is a giant bed of endless ambient reverb and a delay pedal, and I could just live in that space forever. Painting pictures with music.

Desert Island 3 pedal pedalboard (not including tuner)

It is tough to choose just ONE delay pedal, but I'll go with the Strymon El Capistan; I love that I can "crinkle" and "warp" the delay repeats by turning a knob, thereby changing the character of the delay. I feel like I can go from sharp repeats to dusty, fog-laden atmospherics with that thing, and atmosphere is everything to me.

Next up would be the Strymon Blue Sky - I love the endless decay on this thing; it sounds remarkably "musical." I also like that I can turn the mix up to create an almost synth-pad character. I can float through everywhere from space to the ocean to the great beyond with this thing.

Finally, I'll go with the Boss Waza Craft CE-2 chorus pedal. It is remarkably versatile, as choruses go, but that 80s chimey Johnny Marr-inspired guitar tone is in my musical DNA. I love how "blue" a chorus effect sounds on a clean guitar tone. I am immediately transported someone beyond myself when I hear chorus pedal on a guitar.

When you find yourself in a musical rut, what techniques do you do to break out of it?

I'll either take a lesson, OR I will change up my tuning vis a vis finding some manner of open-string tuning to see how it inspires me. I tuned one of my guitars to Open D Minor (DADFAD) the other day, and I am entirely smitten with that tuning, of late.

Who is your favorite artist/band today? And who was your favorite artist/band 10 years ago?

Killing Joke is my favorite band of all time, I daresay. They are one of the few bands that has been around for over 40 years, now, who are still creating and releasing relevant, exciting music, and I have always loved Geordie Walker's approach to his instrument. He is remarkably economical; he never plays solos, and his sound is this remarkably resonant, destructive wall-0f-sound that is still clear under gain.

10 years ago, I would have said Faith No More with Killing Joke being a close second. Nothing really changed outside of Killing Joke's prevalence as an active band.

When you find yourself in a music store - what is your go-to riff when test drive gear?

I am not much for learning someone else's riffs, but lately, it's been the opening clean riff from Death's "Lack of Comprehension" or the main riffs from Dissection - "Black Horizons."

What is your most prized/charished piece of gear? And why?

Lately, it has been my Dunable Yeti. I had to really wrestle with this guitar in an effort to get it to sound the way I wanted it. It had every element I wanted in an instrument SAVE FOR my ideal tone. It has the best neck and ergonomics of any guitar I own, but the pickups I kept trying in it never really sounded right, to me. I recently put a Bare Knuckle Black Dog in the bridge and a Riff Raff in the neck, and the guitar finally sounds like it is supposed to.

What is the next big musical purchase you're hoping to save for?

I'm always on the lookout for new and exciting guitars. I currently have my friend Rich from Agape Guitars building me a baritone to my exact specifications, and I am beyond excited for that.

Gear Breakdown

Alec A. Head Gear

I use Rattlesnake Cables as my main means of routing for live applications as well as home use. In truth, I grew tired of other, more "name-brand" cables crapping out on my entirely or being privy to the jack getting bent, et cetera.

At home, I use a 10' Midnight Purple Neutrik Gold with one right-angle jack and one straight jack coming out of a Vox AC15. I will either play straight in OR I will run it through a few pedals I keep at home. Lately, I have been using a Strymon Volante, a Strymon Flint, a Boss Dimension C, and/or some manner of overdrive/distortion. All of the pedals are connected via both 10" and 12" GLS patch cables. Out of the distortion/overdrive comes a 12' Ash standard with two straight Neutrik Jacks.

In our rehearsal space and for all live applications - Out of my Orange Rockerverb MKII 100-watt head, I have a 15' Midnight Purple standard cable with Neutrik Straight Nickel to Neutrik Straight Nickel jacks going into my impossibly complex switching system (I have it in the loop of the Orange). In the switcher/loop I have a Strymon Timeline, a Strymon Blue Sky, a Strymon El Capistan, and a Boss Waza Craft CE-2 Chorus pedal. From my guitar, there is my very first Rattlesnake purchase, a 10' Standard in Blue with Neutrik Straight Gold to Neutrik Right Angle Gold. All pedals are connected via 10" and 12" patch cables from Rattlesnake.

Guitars:
Dunable Yeti
Heritage H555
Monson Nomad
Suhr Modern Satin
Agape Giasemi prototype
Larrivee D-05

I love the clarity I get from Rattlesnake Cables in addition to the sheer imperviousness of them. I feel like I am always in danger of tripping over or bending other cables to the point where they will never get out of knots. Additionally, they are just a little LOUDER than most other cables I have found. I use Rattlesnake cables for everything.



Bands / Projects

Ghostbound

Listen on Spotify



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Reviews on Google

Fat Tony 6-string
Fat Tony 6-string
1/23/2021
Can’t say enough about the quality of these cables, I’ve owned some of the most expensive cables on the market and these I feel can’t be beat. The customer service and speedy delivery is fantastic. I will be buying all my cables from rattlesnake from now on.
Greg Williams
Greg Williams
9/11/2020
l've purchased various Rattlesnake cables- some stock & others custom one-offs, & am always extremely satisfied with their build quality, appearance, & fair pricing. l highly recommended their products.
J Wegrzyn
J Wegrzyn
9/7/2020
Rattlesnake guitar and patch cables are well built and sound great. I have tried many cables over the years and my search is over. Hank, the owner, responds quickly to questions. Orders are processed quickly and shipping is fast. Try them, you won't be disappointed!
J Wegrzyn
Fat Tony 6-string
1/23/2021
Can’t say enough about the quality of these cables, I’ve owned some of the most expensive cables on the market and these I feel can’t be beat. The customer service and speedy delivery is fantastic. I will be buying all my cables from rattlesnake from now on.
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J Wegrzyn
Greg Williams
9/11/2020
l've purchased various Rattlesnake cables- some stock & others custom one-offs, & am always extremely satisfied with their build quality, appearance, & fair pricing. l highly recommended their products.
Close
J Wegrzyn
J Wegrzyn
9/7/2020
Rattlesnake guitar and patch cables are well built and sound great. I have tried many cables over the years and my search is over. Hank, the owner, responds quickly to questions. Orders are processed quickly and shipping is fast. Try them, you won't be disappointed!
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