Rob Carey & The Headlocks
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Rob Carey & The Headlocks

Staten Island, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2003 | SELF

Staten Island, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2003
Band Rock Americana




"Bloody Red Baron Reviews- Jan 2015"

THE HEADLOCKS: Most Golden Goose

A wild bluesy streak runs through this album, which covers a lot of territory from shit-kickin’ good ole boys to Brit pop rave-ups. Singer/songwriter Rob Carey has steel in his voice and plays fluent harmonica, highly effective on the country numbers. “Dream While You’re Awake” is a hortatory U2-ish anthem leading into the memorable “She’s Gonna Explode.”
They touch Yardbirds on “February Roses,” but no one will accuse them of imitating the Yardbirds. “In The Water” is a stand-out with its whistling chorus and a memorable bridge. Can’t you just hear the Rolling Stones singing “Running Free?” “Starting Over” could have been written by Joan Armatrading but again, the Headlocks sound like nobody else. “Way Up Wait Up” could have been written by Scott Sax.

This is tart rock served straight.

Four Stars - PopGeekHeaven

"Rob Carey and The Headlocks celebrate CD release at Flagship Brewing Co"

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — In the Aesop's Fable about the goose that laid a golden egg, villagers prematurely kill the bird, supposing there's more gold within.

Local musician Rob Carey wasn't going to let that happen with his band's sophomore album, "Most Golden Goose."

The title of the new release from his band, The Headlocks, is a nod to the classic tale, and the fear that it would be released before enough work had gone into making it a polished folk-rock album.

In this metaphor, each song is a golden egg — and the goose isn't done laying yet. The band begins recording its next album Nov. 14.

"Most Golden Goose" debuted this month on iTunes and will be celebrated with a live show at Flagship Brewing Co. on Nov. 8. Much of the record was recorded here on Staten Island at NOVA studios.

The album includes production and engineering help from experts like Grammy Award-winning mixer Brian Vibberts and Gavin Lurssen, who worked on the legendary soundtrack for the Cohen Bros. film "Oh, Brother Where Art Thou."

Band members include Carey on vocals, harmonica and telecaster, Frank Cavallo on drums, Nick Purpura on guitar, Joseph Brancato on bass, Daniel Gallagher on guitar, and several other vocalists and guest appearances.

The band, a Staten Island mainstay at this point, changed almost entirely from its first album, "Cuckoobird," Carey said.

"In five years, it's gone from 13 to five of us," he said. "A lot of people were just coming and going."

He said the long process of producing "Most Golden Goose" and releasing it independent of a label meant there were no deadlines. The sleeve of the album states that it was "recorded patiently from April 1, 2011, until September 2013." He and his bandmates had all the time they needed to refine it.

Below a cast of players, the sleeve reads: "This album was a long, turning and sometimes wild journey for the band, filled with the most golden discoveries."

Carey wanted this one to be worthy of radio play and films — and it will be. Many of the songs from this album and his solo albums will appear in the documentary film, "Building Magic," about a magician he met while hitchhiking through the southern states in his early 20s.

Though created on Staten Island's North Shore, the songs drip with the kind of bluesy rhythms that would transport one to some Georgian porch, sweet tea in hand. Though unintentional, the five bandmates take their influence from groups like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Led Zeppelin and The Doors.

"Growing up with all that stuff, that's one place where the band comes together," Carey said. "That's just part of our language."

For this album, the band wanted to get back to the roots of rock-and-roll. Songs like "February Roses" and "(Why Don't You) Get Right" have the same booming excitement and rolling backbeat heard in early rock classics.

Alternately, the first single The Headlocks released, the dark lullaby "Plenty of Ways to Die," is a softer melody. It follows a short track consisting only of a train on tracks, undoubtedly in the middle of the night and in the middle of nowhere.

The album propels Carey deeper into the music industry, which he obviously has his sights on. He's in the running for a search for the next great American singer-songwriter in Guitar Center's "Singer-Songwriter 4."

If he wins, Carey scores a four-song EP with Grammy-winning producer Don Was, a songwriting mentoring session with Colbie Caillat, a performance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," $25,000 cash and new gear from Acoustic, Avid, Bose, Casio, D'Addario, Gibson, GoPro, Martin, Shure and TC-Group.

(Psst ... vote for him here through Nov. 9.)

Carey currently ranks No. 31 in the contest, but it's ultimately up to the judges to decide the winner. And he says, the contest means more people are listening to his music, which is always a win — for the contest and the album itself.

"We were just trying to clear our way of anything to stop us from being from heard," Carey said. - The Staten Island Advance (silive)

"AOL MP3 of the Day (Worldwide) Jan 2, 2010" -


With a feisty spirit and organic swagger, NYC-area five-piece The Headlocks are like The Rolling Stones had Mick and Keef been born 40 years later and been able to absorb the array of ways the music of their heroes like Holwin’ Wolf and Muddy Water has been advanced in the past half-century. The band has developed a massive following in the New York area and last year the members expanded their touring radius, helping more and more music lovers get their ya-yas out while under the spell of The Headlocks’ playful audio headlocks.

You’ll Dig It If You Dig: Cold War Kids, White Stripes, The Band 2000. (Mike Breen, CityBeat) - CityBeat

"Say Hello To The Headlocks (US)"

I was recently introduced to a folk-rock band called The Headlocks and i’m so glad for this introduction because these guys make some really amazing music. I’m a huge fan of live/folk music and a lot of the songs made by these guys easily fits that description. These guys have a really amazing layered sound that is missing from a lot of new music nowadays. Many would classify The Headlocks as a “jam band” and you definitely get that vibe in a lot of their songs from their latest album because it just feels like these guys really enjoy jamming out together. They have amazing vocals that are backed with a great group of instrumentalists.
One of the best things about this band is they have such an eclectic choice of music that they play. In one song you may hear rock mixed with folk mixed with a little soul sprinkled with some blues and it all sounds great mixed together. The track that sticks out the most to me right now is “Amen to Good Charles” which is a great lively song that wont disappoint if you are in the right mindset and ready to enjoy some light-hearted music. The Headlocks just recently released their debut album entitled Cuckoo Bird and below are a few of the tracks that stood out to me the most. Check them out and check out the bands website and myspace for more.

Montrey- - Earmilk.Com

"Cuckoobird Album review on Ears of The Beholder (US)"

We’ve been getting some great CD’s sent to the Noise Pop office for obvious reasons and I’ve decided to take advantage of the situation for the advancement of EOTB band awareness. One band in particular that stuck out is Staten Island’s The Headlocks. This band has that classic rock aesthetic, sort of like a Jack White project (think Raconteurs) or bands like Dutchess and the Duke. As I’ve said before regarding this type of band, it’s nothing innovative, but you can’t knock the quality of the product. The band’s recent album Cuckoobird is truly a great listen full of enthusiastic vocals backed by wailing guitars, easy-going bass lines and dashes of brass here and there. It’s one of those CD’s you throw at the head of a person who hasn’t moved past his parents LP’s, because “new music is so bad.” Beyond today’s featured tune “I Freak Out Too,” I highly recommend “Out In The Sun” and “Shelter” for your listening pleasure.
- Ears Of The Beholder

"Song Of The Cuckoo:The Headlocks In Depth (No Depression.Com)"

Song of the Cuckoo

Instead of Cuckoo Bird, maybe the Headlocks should have called their debut album The Phoenix. The self-produced CD rose from the ashes of two aborted attempts to freeze the frame on this high-energy, rock ’n roots ensemble. But then, nothing seems to come all that easily to the Headlocks, a rowdy yet disciplined band of seasoned players from blue-collar Staten Island.

Nothing, that is, except an authentic ’60s vibe of collective creativity and pure musical joy.

Full disclosure: I am a Headlocks partisan. I know most of the group’s ten members, play in another band with a couple of them and have been to dozens of their shows. So call me biased. Yet by any objective standard, I would still submit that the Headlocks rock.

As a quintessential bar band, they’ve made a name for themselves in late-night venues around New York. But their home base is Staten Island – especially its North Shore. The area is perennially touted as the next bohemian paradise for artists and musicians gentrified out of the Lower East Side and Williamsburg. Some of those inner-borough hipsters might be surprised to learn that it’s already home to a vibrant alternative music scene. The Headlocks are both a product of that scene and, at this point, a driving force behind it.

They’re also exceptionally dedicated musicians, many of whom are a bit older and wiser than your average suburban rock-star wannabe. On the roster are a longshoreman, an underemployed Teamster and a couple of public school teachers, among other working stiffs. Most of the group are in their thirties and married or shacked up, and two of them have kids. Their work ethic keeps them gigging and rehearsing several times a week, even as they balance grown-up work and family obligations.

The Headlocks, in short, come by the blues honestly.

* * *

The Cuckoo Bird CD finally takes flight on September 26, with a celebratory concert in the Music Hall at Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Built in the 1890s, the venerable, 850-seat auditorium is a far cry from the cozier local haunts where the Headlocks usually pack them in – like the magic-box back room at the Martini Red bar, or the amiable clutter of The Cup, a coffeehouse nearby. And the Music Hall show is on the verge of selling out.

The launch of the album has all the earmarks of a hometown triumph. But no matter where it leads, Cuckoo Bird is a milestone for the Headlocks. With its release, they will at last overcome a legacy of false starts that would be funny if it wasn’t so frustrating.

The first attempt at a full-scale recording came more than two years ago. That’s when Headlocks co-founders Rob Carey and Frank Duffy arranged for a session at a studio on Sand Street in Staten Island’s gritty Stapleton section. The session was captured on a heavy-duty, 20-year-old tape deck. “The same thing that Madonna recorded on in the ’80s,” kibitzes Duffy, the band’s hard-charging rhythm guitarist.

The Sand Street set featured many of the Headlocks originals that would ultimately turn up on Cuckoo Bird. Carey – the lead singer, whose vocals combine Dylanesque phrasing with blissful abandon – recalls the session sounding tight. Before the tape could be mastered, however, the vintage equipment seized up, apparently beyond repair. The recording was lost.

“We listened to it, literally, once, and never heard it again,” says Carey, still clearly stung by the loss. It’s probably just as well that he and the rest of the band had no way of knowing the sad truth: Their dream was destined to crash and burn one mo’ time.

* * *

Carey and Duffy had first crossed paths about five years before the Sand Street debacle. At the time, they were both writing music in a folk-rock milieu, albeit from different angles. Carey is influenced most by roots music, naming Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly as important influences. Duffy favors R&B, stating flatly: “Sam Cooke is where I’m coming from.” Yet when the two began collaborating, they clicked immediately.

Their creative connection was effortless, even startling. “We always felt a sense of, ‘Wow, what just happened?’ The songs would just come together,” Carey says. The set of music that emerged was very much in the spirit and style of the Headlocks-to-be, and the two men started building a group around it.

Drummer Frank Cavallo was one early adopter who stayed on. Cavallo hauls cargo at the Howland Hook container port on Newark Bay when he’s not pummeling his kit. At Headlocks gigs he pounds relentlessly, just behind the beat, chasing the groove like it’s a union buster on the docks.

Organist and unofficial music director Steve Pepe signed on in 2006, when Carey enticed him with a Roland VK-7 he’d bought second-hand in Brooklyn. “I figured if I get an organ, I can get an organ player,” Carey says. He figured right. Though Pepe is a guitarist and composer by training, he took to the Roland with pouncing, keyboard-punishing riffs - Timothy Ledwith

"The Aquarian Interview Dec. 2010"

Local Noise: The Headlocks
—by Hal B. Selzer, December 15, 2010

“It’s feel good music. And it’s thoughtful at the same time.” So said Rob Carey, singer/guitarist of The Headlocks, regarding their unique brand of Americana. “It’s the kind of music that appeals to just about everyone. We play all ages shows. We play shows down in our local scene made up of 20 and 30-somethings and we play at your local old man bar. Good responses all around.”

The band’s latest CD, Cuckoo Bird, was released in late 2009 and is on its second pressing. The songs carry themes of the working class, and living in America in the wake of a cultural revolution that has been eaten by its exploitation. The group has promoted the release with over 70 shows around the area.

“We are based in Staten Island and have been playing steadily all over the city now for the past three years or so,” Rob said. “We’ve played some great rooms such as The Mercury Lounge and The Bitter End. We’ve also played in parks, Irish bars, festivals and colleges. We love playing in front of anybody, pretty much… We’ve played a few fantastic shows in Asbury Park and Red Bank. We’ve been booking a lot of college gigs in the region, as our album is showing up on radio station playlists nationwide.”

Rob is joined in the band by guitarist Frank Duffy, who previously was in a jug band called the Wahoo Skiffle Crazies, drummer Frank Cavallo, who was formerly in the group Tryptophan, guitarist Nick Purpora, from the legendary Staten Island hardcore band Muddfoot, keyboard player Steve Pepe and bass player Joseph Brancato.

“Frank and I began playing and writing a handful of songs on a porch in a local park,” reminisced Rob. “People kept showing up on the porch until it was a party. We started doing that in bars, at parties, in clubs and at colleges.”

While they come from a varied musical background, they share a common interest. “There’s a line in the final track, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life,’ it goes ‘You say I’m a Cuckoo Bird, but I never sing on time,’” said Rob, about the title of the CD. “It comes from there, but is also a reference to the old American folk song of the same title. We love Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music.”

Besides the folk anthology, the group can’t pin down anything in particular that influences their collective sound. “As a band, we don’t ever say. ‘Hey, let’s write a song that sounds like such and such a band.’ It’s a very organic process, and our collective influences have the same effect on us that soil does on the plant that grows out of it,” Rob added.

The songs initially grew out of Rob and Frank sitting together and coming up with ideas, but more recently they’ve started with the whole group. “Traditionally, Duffy will play a riff on the guitar and I will say, ‘I have something perfect for that,’ and start flipping through one of the books I always write in,” explained Rob. “Melody ensues. Lately though, the music has been developing more and more from jams as well.”

Both the songs from the album and the new songs they’ve been performing have been getting well received from fans. “We have gotten very strong responses from literally every song we play out,” Rob related. “One that’s been coming up more and more lately is ‘Freeze The Frame.’ We’re going to continue to write and record music that feels good and resonates with listeners. Our second full-length release is in preproduction and we’re picking songs from a list of nearly thirty new originals in order to put together another strong concept album.”

One interesting aspect of the live shows is the way they sometimes start out, with each instrument starting separately until the whole band is playing. It had an accidental beginning that seems to have caught on. “We got lost on the way to playing a jam band festival in upstate New York this past summer,” Rob recalls. “By the time we got to the stage, following a six hour drive, it was time to go on. The audience waiting for us to play started to clear out, but as we set up, one instrument after another, we were able to keep the crowd who stayed, and a huge crowd packed in behind them. The song we played is really danceable and upbeat, so when we finally were ready to play, we looked up and a ton of people were dancing already. We’ve started a few shows since then with that song, using what we call the extended intro”

The name of the group was actually a happy accident as well. “It comes from a misunderstanding,” Rob laughs. “We were listening to Bob Dylan’s ‘Jokerman.’ He says ‘padlocks’ in a line, and we thought he said ‘headlocks.’ We’d been looking for a name for months, and that one stuck long before we realized that we had mistaken the line!”

You can find out more about The Headlocks, as well as upcoming shows and the status of the new release, at You can also get in touch with them by E-mailing the group at - The Aquarian

"American Songwriter Interview Jan 24 2011"

Meet The Headlocks, the rock band from Staten Island, NY, whose debut album, Cuckoo Bird, we can’t get out of our heads. We spoke with singer/guitarist Rob Carey about their Bob Dylan-inspired band name, songwriting, and the nature of the word “Americana.” “It’s like stewed chicken versus fried chicken,” says Carey of writing off the cuff, versus meticulously editing your lyrics. “Different way of cooking, but equally pleasant.”

Tell us about how the band formed, and why.

Frank Duffy and I had been writing songs together for years and occasionally gathering a batch and playing them out. At that time, for some reason weren’t really playing them out. At one point we were playing supportive roles in the jug band The Wahoo Skiffle Crazies, I was on harmonica and he on acoustic and percussion. One day Frank said “This is great, but why haven’t we been playing our own stuff??” I said “I thought you didn’t want to do it anymore?” He said “I thought you didn’t want to do it.” I said “oh no, I do” and he said “me too”… So then we did it. We started playing our songs anywhere and everywhere.

How’d you get the band name?

Kind of by accident. Bob Dylan has a line in “Jokerman:” “Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks,Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain”. For some reason we thought he was saying “headlocks,” which looking at it doesn’t make much sense in the context of the song. Haha. Anyway we were looking for a name for a while, and we liked that one. We still do.

Do people expect your music to be aggressive because of it?

I get the feeling that sometimes they do. People are often surprised by what they hear.

What’s been the secret to your success so far?

Not getting discouraged when things go wrong and being patient enough to take one step at a time. Also, by seeing confinements, limitations and slights as simple tests and opportunities to grow.

What’s been a career highlight?

I’d have to say the community support we got for our Cuckoo Bird release concert. We had no way to make this album happen financially. Through a friend, we managed to secure a 680 seat theater in Snug Harbor, Staten Island. Hand to hand, we sold it out. It was a great success, and it paid for a huge chunk of the album. Seeing everyone come together in support like that on a local level really blew my mind. It’s unheard of.

You’re sometimes billed as an Americana band. What does Americana mean to you?

Great question. Americana seems to me to apply to all things American. Meaning it starts with things like the constitution and the founding fathers, the Civil War, traveling by ship or wagon… and people like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman, Stephen Foster, Edgar Allen Poe, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Patton — you see how this list is endless. It also includes things like highways and bridges, carnivals and circuses, revivals and other traveling Shows, and every type of uniquely American Music — jazz, blues, etc.

Obviously our country is one of immigrants, so that’s where it gets tricky. How the term Americana applies to a band is another story. Maybe the band has an aura that it somehow belongs to the vibe of what the whole country implies, for better or worse.

What’s a song on your Cuckoo Bird you really want people to hear, and why?

My favorite on the album changes from week to week. I’m sure the rest of the band would say the same. Right now it’s “Ways and Means” or “The Round Up.” Ask me next week and I might say “I Freak Out Too.” Our hope is that people will really listen to the whole thing, because we really designed it to have the feel of an old-school album, start to finish.

What’s a lyric you’re particularly proud of on the album?

Maybe “Made of Fire.” Where normally I write all of the lyrics, that one was a collaboration between myself and Duffy. So I don’t know if proud is the word, but it stretched me out a bit.

Are there any words you love, or hate?

Um, not really. That’s kind of like asking what my favorite song is. I do really love words though. If I’m reading a book and don’t know a word, I’ll circle it and look it up later. I also like looking up words I think I know well. For example, look up the word “love”. There are more meanings than you’d think.

How do you typically write songs? Words first, or melody?

Mostly words first, but lately I’ve been getting melodies first more and more, which is scary.

Do you find yourself revising a lot, or do you like to write automatically?

Most of what I would consider my best writing lyrically is done automatically with minimal revision, and as a result of a certain state of mind. But more and more I find myself revising and being open to that process — there’s so much more you can do with it. It’s like stewed chicken versus fried chicken. Different way of cooking, but equally pleasant.

Who’s an underrated songwriter, in your opinion?

Howard Fishman. That’s some Americana.

What’s a song you wis - American Songwriter

"Best Local Album of 2009 (Staten Island, New York)"

Congrats guys. You did it.
The Headlocks... the champions, SI musical heroes, and second recipient of the Dumpy: The Headlocks.

Starting off as a bare bones folk group a few years back, Rob Carey, Frank Duffy, Frank Cavallo and some guy John on bass began the long arduous journey that brought them to the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Mercury Lounge.

Last summer, the group was holed up in a Brooklyn studio trying to put together this release. Cuckoo Bird is both ramshackle hillbilly blues, tender American folk, gentle ballads, and shout-a-long Stones rock all crammed into one album. A gentleman named Million Dollar Bill helped produce this album into a stellar mix of instruments that goes down easy and clings to you with repeated listens.

There's an element of storytelling to these songs as well. In addition to the catchy sing-a-long chorus, "Driving in the Dark" tells the tale of a road trip gone wrong. "Freeze the Frame" asks us to step back an contemplate our surroundings. The song crescendos into a chorus that decries the local milieu with a half-scream "Never seen a scene so petty / getting in it's own way / wanna freeze the frame for a moment."

"Another Flood" is cheerfully upbeat with goofball lyrics and a wild harmonica lead that conjures Dylan's "Maggie's Farm." Cuckoo Bird descends on a somber note with "It's a Wonderful Life," an earnest reverie about the unavoidable toil of everyday experiences.

All in all, it's a wonderful release. Marked at times by humor and self-deprecation the songs are crammed with instruments but fall back on the inventive lyrics and songwriting of its core members. The Headlocks load the car up with gas and invite you along for the ride. You can't be sure where they're going, but there's only one way to find out.

"Rock and Reel Magazine (UK) April 2010"

"The Headlocks plough a similar if slightly more disciplined furrow to The Felice Brothers, with up to a dozen musicians throwing everything into the mix, just about making sense of it, and emerging with a rowdy sound that fuses The Band, southern soul and the blues to excellent effect." - Rock and Reel Magazine (R2)

"A Review From Rootstime (Belgium) - Translated from the Dutch - January 2010"

From the New York Staten Island we received the album "Cuckoo Bird", the first full CD of the rock band The Head Locks. This group was formed in 2007 around singer Rob Carey and consists of 6 to 11 permanent members but for the recordings of this CD ended up even 17 musicians in the studio.

In October 2008 released The Head Locks first eponymous EP, followed by a live ep. Meanwhile, the band wrote diligently continue to thirteen songs that are in the New York Hard Luck Studios "were recorded for the first studio album.

Their sound is inspired by modern pop and folk rock with influences from blues and rock from the '60s. Songs like "Me Or You" or "Driving In The Dark", which typically sixties folk music and psychedelic tracks "Shelter" and "I Freak Out Too" go back to the sound of 40 to 50 years ago. Instruments which were also frequently used in these numbers are discussed. Thus we hear the jawharp, the ukulele and djembe and percussion instruments in a few songs cuica determine the timbre.

A constantly recurring factor in these numbers is the jammende falling rock music and musicians back the use of a honky tonk piano in songs like "Freeze The Frame" and "Amen Charles Good. Keyboardist Steve Pepe of service while vocalist Rob Carey occasionally chaotic expressive lyrics through the struggles. The women's trio backing singers deserves a special mention: Julie Coyne, Rachel Gena Mimozo Somma and give themselves completely in a few tracks on this album.

The art of recording this album was the cacophony of sounds and instruments into a coherent whole yet to meet. The Head Locks There are pretty well managed without compromising the objective of maintaining the sixties sound. In some songs they sound as 'Arcade Fire' or 'The Decemberists', in a few others are like the "Rolling Stones" as in "The Round Up" where the horn is able to play an important role in the soulful "Out In The Sun "Rob Carey's vocals which closely follow the voice of Mick Jagger.

One of our favorite tracks on "Cuckoo Bird" is the bluesy rootsrock song "Ways And Means" in which Rob Carey very strong vocal from the corner, as in the CD closing track "It's A Wonderful Life" where he also a wonderful piece harmonica makes.

A thorough listening of "Cuckoo Bird" leads to the conclusion that the super group composed mainly of thirty well knows what musical paths they wish to go. With their music on this first full album, they will surely succeed in dragging an audience on their journey through the music. - Rootstime

"A Winning Cuckoo Bird Review from Leicester Bangs(UK) January 2010"

The Headlocks – Cuckoo Bird (Independent)
I like this New York band. They sound like they’ve got their act together with their Americana, roots(y) sound touching on folk, blues and honky-tonk, too. The harmonica led, “Driving In The Dark” is a rhythmically catchy tune. The vocals are impressive while the percussion is a strong feature. The music may be layered and carefully arranged, but it has a carefree abandon to it. “Freeze The Frame”, with its pounding rhythm has fine female backing vocals, and blazing guitar a la Neil Young. There is a playful, fun loving feel to this music. It sounds like these folks are having a party. “The Round Up” sums up the unpredictable nature of this band. A simple acoustic strummed intro quickly builds momentum with piano, percussion and horns. I challenge you to sit still while listening to it. The Headlocks are a good time band, ideal for the weekend and those late nights when you want to let your hair down. Investigate with confidence.


John Brindle

"The Headlocks Uncage Their Ambitious New Music (Staten Island, NY) - September 26th 2009"

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The Headlocks are tightening their grip.
Never mind that they are close to being the first local band, at least in recent memory, to sell out the 700-seat Music Hall at Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden. Or that the Sept. 26 show will herald the release of one of the most professional-sounding albums in years from an active band of musicians who’ve slogged it out in local dives and those across the water.
Nah, it’s something more important than both of those things.
Listening to The Headlocks’ new recording, "Cuckoo Bird," one hears a band that knows itself. And a band that knows itself can make an impression on all sorts of people. Evidence: Assemblyman Mike Cusick helped The Headlocks negotiate with Snug Harbor to secure the venue, artist Scott LoBaido will create new works during the show and Mario the Magician will cut his assistant in half.
"We spent a lot of money on the album, so we’re trying to pay for that," says guitarist Frank Duffy, 34, of Silver Lake. "But we just want it to be a fun time for a lot of people."
A full cash bar and a talented opening act — folk rockers The Jazz Funeral — seem likely to help make that happen. But The Headlocks’ raucously pleasant music, and band members’ determination to get the word out, deserves a lot of the credit.
"I just think what we’re doing appeals to more than one crowd," says Rob Carey, 32, a laid-back bandleader with a broad, handsome face and a heavy handshake. "People our age tend to like it, older people tend to like it. It’s definitely current music, and it’s not classic rock, but it has that vibe sometimes. Hopefully people feel that it’s coming from the heart."
Carey should know. A forklift driver whose work has slowed down considerably in the past year, the North Shore resident has been able to help book some 50 gigs for the band in recent months. But instead of the usual local-group-modus-operandi of balancing frequent shows at the same local haunts with a random gig here or there in Manhattan and Brooklyn, The Headlocks have logged an impressive variety of performances.

Just over the summer, the band rocked Bowery Presents launch pad Mercury Lounge, and played outside of Peggy O’Neill’s in Coney Island after the much-blogged Wilco concert at Keystone Park. A few weeks ago, The Headlocks were asked by a new fan to play their original music at his wedding in Bay Ridge. Plus, local gigs — including an opening act slot for Stapleton pop starlet Ingrid Michaelson — have proved that the band can and wants to play to whoever will listen. No rock snobs here.
"They’re probably our biggest draw, them and Karlus Trapp," says Jimmie Steinhilber, 52, whose St. George bar Jimmie Steiny’s draws a thoroughly mixed crowd. "We’re a 35 and up crowd, but they appeal to them as well. When The Headlocks play, everybody enjoys them."
Newer members of the 11-piece band echo the same thing.
"I was a huge fan of The Headlocks before I joined," says Gena Mimozo, 29, of Concord, who started singing backup for the band’s originals with Rachel Somma and Julie Coyne after learning a set of Bob Marley covers for a special gig. "They’re jam bandish — but with this country rock ‘n’ roll swagger that I really enjoy."
Whatever your categories, The Headlocks dodge them on their new album, just three years after the band started playing. Album opener "Me or You" is a spiraling bit of beautifully harmonized folk music with mobster-leaden meditations on good and evil, while late cut "Amen Good Charles" is a piano-led piece of loose, hooting honky-tonk. Other tunes approach the genuine feel of early rock.
"There’s something about Rob (Carey’s) voice that I can’t explain; it has a unique quality to it," says album engineer Jason Spittle, a tattooed, imposing Brooklynite who co-owns Hard Luck Studios, where "Cuckoo Bird" was tracked. "It’s like they’re a jam band without all the bad stereotypes that come with a jam band."
Nobody’s getting paid yet — in fact, The Headlocks are just hoping the Snug Harbor gig will help them make a dent in debts for making "Cuckoo Bird" a serious album. But if the groups growing fan base is any indication, they might have a chance at doing something bigger.
"We sold like 30 tickets for our album release party at a show in Bay Ridge," says bassist Steve Goffin, 28, of Livingston, a note of incredulity in his voice. "We were telling people who didn’t want to drive, ‘You have to take the ferry.’ But they loved us so much they were going to figure out how to get here, one way or the other."
- The Staten Island Advance by Ben Johnson


The Headlocks Most Golden Goose (2014)
The Headlocks Cuckoo Bird (2009)



The Headlocks are a Rock and Roll band out of Staten Island, New York who get down and entertain audiences wherever they go. Rob Carey's vocals and harmonica seem to reverberate from the same chamber as some of the best that classic Rock and Roll and Soul has to offer, while the simple structures of their catchy songs allow the band to pulsate in wave after wave of sonic joy.

Something to note about this band is the fact that it dodges simple category descriptions. There isn't one type of song here, but more of a diverse and classic approach to the idea of performance and song writing as a band. They've played and continue to play in everything from small and intimate rooms, to large festival stages. Once called "The quintessential barroom band". But there is more to it.

The Headlocks bring with them an array of life's snapshots and feelings and thoroughly enjoy improvising in the moment of each room, in the energy of each crowd.

It should suffice to say that the band has too numerous a number of influences to name. It is a distinctly American Sound. These influences, as well as the band's environment, surviving and even thriving in a borough of New York City that seems in many minds to be in lost in the shadow of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Hailing from Staten Island, where so much recent talent in quite a few artistic mediums has blossomed and unfolded, has shaped the band in a unique way. It is a way that will take some of the best things you love about All Kinds of American music and even British Invasion, retool it, and spin it on it's head. 

The Headlocks first and (as of November 2013 Only) album, Cuckoo Bird, a thundering, wide-ranging album, was recorded at Hard Luck studios in Brooklyn, NY and mixed at HeadGear also in Bk. It was mastered in NYC at Avatar by Fred Kevorkian.
Music from Cuckoo Bird was featured on season one of the TLC show NY Ink, as well as on the upcoming film about the ever brilliant Mario the Magician- Maker and Magician.

Cuckoo Bird sold over 2250 copies (by hand) and garnered a good deal of local, national and international press and college/ independent/local and internet radio airplay.

Here is what some folks have said about Cuckoo Bird:

"The music throughout CUCKOO BIRD is invigorating and creative making each track an enjoyable listen, rerfeshing and lively. A HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ALBUM FOR ALL THOSE WHO SEEK A UNIQUE SOUND..." Charlotte Bones, Maverick Magazine UK

"Over the past few years, The Headlocks have gained a name for themselves by playing ENERGETIC AND MELODICALLY PLEASING FOLK AND ROOTS ROCK all over the [New York] city" Ben Johnson, SI Advance

Cheshire Cat Sez: "This is the first "COLLEGE ROCK" album that I'd ever define as such. A little raw, unique without being quirky, and equal parts playful Bob Dylan and the White Stripes. REFRESHING AND AUTHENTIC." Bryan Skowera PENN STATE UNIVERSITY

"This band has that classic rock aesthetic, sort of like a Jack White project (think Raconteurs) or bands like Dutchess and the Duke. ... you cant knock the QUALITY of the product." Peter @ -EARSOFTHEBEHOLDER.COM

"In some songs they sound as 'Arcade Fire' or 'The Decemberists'...they will surely succeed in dragging an audience on their journey through the music." Valsam, WWW.ROOTSTIME.BE/

"The Headlocks plough a similar if slightly more disciplined furrow to The Felice Brothers, with up to a dozen musicians throwing everything into the mix, just about making sense of it, and emerging with A ROWDY SOUND that FUSES The Band, SOUTHERN SOUL AND THE BLUES TO EXCELLENT EFFECT" Rock and Reel Magazine (UK)

" AMAZING VOCALS that are backed with a great group of instrumentalists.... In one song you may hear rock mixed with folk mixed with a little soul sprinkled with some blues and it all sounds great mixed together" Montrey,

"Cuckoo Bird is both ramshackle hillbilly blues, tender American folk, gentle ballads, and shout-a-long Stones rock all crammed into one album. ...GOES DOWN EASY AND CLINGS TO YOU WITH REPEATED LISTENS" StatenIslandDump.BlogSpot

Band Members