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Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States

Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Band Pop


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"Wighead, hold the spaghetti"

The more things change, the more Wighead’s quirky, fun and danceable pop ethic shines.
The flying spaghetti noodles may be gone from the shows, but so are the monster clean-ups. Wighead’s focus is now squarely on the music — and the party — without leading fans covered in stickiness.

And that’s a very good thing, and a little different, too. With the change comes a self-titled album more than a year in the making.

“Well, this one isn’t complete garbage,” said lead singer Chris Rusk with a laugh. “Though we were too lazy to name it.”

The self-titled album is a “rebirth” for a band that started out as a maniacal high school project and has since grown into one of Tulsa’s more popular and distinctive pop acts.

The disc is They Might Be Giants-inspired, polka-influenced, Ween-lyrical, Of Montreal-guided and Brian Wilson weird.

(If you’re looking to categorize it in iTunes, well, WTF works.)

The band wrote new songs and completely re-recorded old ones, said lead guitarist Evan Inman-Butts.

“It’s funny, really, because this thing took so long to make that I’ve actually had kids since the last release we did,” said Inman-Butts, who had twin girls just weeks ago. “It took over a year of hard labor and love.”

Accordions, eerie vocals, megaphones, spacey keyboards, bouncy guitars, surf rock, synthesized horns and string arrangements star in the eclectic aural mix.

And the kids? “More motivation to make this my career,” said Inman-Butts. The band also does children’s shows at schools and libraries across Tulsa.

The self-titled album holds 11 songs about drinking alone, a creature from the black lagoon, pirates, crossing the seven seas, haircuts, ghosts … and his girl who ate his last banana. (“I never liked you much / so I hope you die …” Rusk sings.) - Tulsa World

"Weirdos Unite!"

One Tulsa band we haven't heard from in a while is finally re-emerging with a CD release party this Saturday. Wighead has been in hiding for the past year, recording a new album and adjusting to a change in lineup, but the weirdos behind this genre-bending indie rock act will be back in full-force on July 11 when they release their self-titled full-length debut via a performance on the sidestage of Cain's Ballroom, 423 N. Main.

"Our show is going to be a summary of all the craziness we've done in the past," lead singer Chris Rusk said. "It's a costume party. It's $7 at the door, but if you're wearing a costume you get in for $5."

Anyone who's experienced a Wighead performance should know that "summary of all the craziness" means wackiness on an epic scale. The band is known for their nutty live performances, which frequently involve everything from bubbles to capes to fake blood, and in some cases, spaghetti (which is thrown at the audience).

"We're not going to do any spaghetti this time," Rusk assured. "It turns out that it's a bad idea. It pisses off the owner of any club that's not Soundpony. We've replaced spaghetti with confetti."

Wighead is currently nominated for an ABoT Music Award for Best Live Performance, and Rusk plans to show just why they deserve the nomination.

"We're pulling out everything. We've got tons of stuff we're going to do to make it a very extravagant performance."

Coming from someone who once performed live "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" in its entirety, the promise of extravagance should mean big things.

Here Comes the Head

The concept of Wighead grew out of a friendship between Rusk and Evan Inman-Butts.

"We started in 2001," Rusk said. "Evan and I, two weird kids, were both like 15 and just listened to a lot of weird music."

Armed with a four-track and a drum machine, Rusk and Inman-Butts recorded songs and passed out CDs to anyone who would take them. In 2006, they acquired a bass player (Jeff DiPesa) and began to play live shows around town.

"We'd play live with the drum machine and just put on a really weird show with costumes and stage props and whatever," Rusk said. "We'd basically harass the audience 'til we were asked to leave."

Rusk said that they eventually added a live drummer (Congratulations!'s Tony Delesdernier) and began to develop a following.

"Our songs were getting a little bit better, and we somehow became like a real band."

The band began to play more prolifically around town, notably at venues like Soundpony and The Collective. In an unorthodox move (at least for a young "hip" indie band), they began performing for children at various events.

"There's really no better crowd than children, because they haven't developed taste in music yet," Rusk laughed. "So they're pretty much happy with anything. We played two Girl Scout shows, a library show, a few elementary school shows. We've never gotten more applause or encores than at those."

It makes sense. The whimsical props and light-hearted theatricality complement music that is overtly child-like, at least in tone. It's catchy, upbeat, playful and silly. Rusk attributes Wighead's sound to the influence of bands like Frank Zappa, They Might Be Giants, The Beach Boys and early Of Montreal.

"We want it to be just fun, easy music to listen to, with catchy melodies," he said. "It's not pretentious, and it's not for everybody. We're not trying to make ourselves look better than we are. We're just weird people making weird music."

Lyrically, the songs cover a wider spectrum, and some of it's not quite as playful or kid-friendly. The album opens with the goofy Kimya Dawson-ish "The Creature" (don't judge me so soon/just cuz i'm from the black lagoon/I'm every lady's wish/half monster and half fish), but closes with the darker "One Last Cigarette," wherein Rusk wishes death on a parting ex-lover (albeit, for stealing his banana).

While this new LP isn't always completely kid-friendly (there's a track entitled "Shit Rocket"), Rusk said that they do plan on recording a children's album sometime in the future ("All the music's written for it, it's just getting everyone to do it").

Regarding the current album, Rusk said that they started recording last November but didn't finish up until a few months ago due to an abrupt lineup change.

"Our bass player and drummer both decided that they were going to go on to do other things," Rusk said. "Evan and I finished up the album ourselves, and as we were doing that, we were also training our new drummer (Airon Wessinger of Elliot the Letter Ostrich) and bass player (Tyler Hall)."

They recorded at Pizza Party Productions, a house studio run by John Atkins, who produced, mixed and mastered the album.

Now that the album is finished, Rusk said the band plans to self-distribute while they plan a large tour for the end of the year that will hopefully yield a more expansive following. "At the end of the year, we're gonna go regional: Kansas, Arkansas, Texas."

Rusk said that sometime the band will go on a large two month tour across both the east and west coasts.

"We're gonna go all the way up to New York and down, back home and then to California and back," he said.

"We want to dirty the countryside with Wighead."

Opening for Wighead is retro-electro act Guardant, and Sweet Baby Jaysus will be on hand to host a post-show dance party. Additionally, Rusk said that the show will feature giveaways from several sponsors, including Louis & Cluck (the guys behind the "I Heart Tulsa" and "Okie Grown" apparel) and Under the Mooch. - Urban Tulsa


William and Edward Frontage 7" EP



Born out of Tulsa, OK by Evan Inman-Butts and Chris Rusk, Wighead hoped to bring pop music back to a more carefree time when musicians would parade proudly about the stage in capes and costumes, play amongst a shower of confetti, occasionally treat their audiences to cake and ice cream and write well crafted, whimsical pop songs.

Not content to write songs that are simply based around the standard guitar, bass, drum and keyboard structure to fill out their sound, Wighead takes its queues from Sgt. Pepper, Pet Sounds and 1960's era Mothers of Invention when pop artist were experimenting more with various instrumentation and adding scores to their songs. When it came to recording the William and Edward Frontage 7" EP Wighead sought to create a whimsical, 60's drenched wall of sound that would feel a bit dirty around the edges. Using sections of cello, brass and Beach Boy style harmonies along with other alternative instrumentation, percussion and bits of fuzzed soaked guitars and bass, William and Edward Frontage feels both nostalgic and refreshingly new--like a ray of sunshine joyfully bouncing through a dingy alleyway.

A Wighead show is a completely singular experience. In the spirit of early Frank Zappa shows, unpredictable theatrics is always expected. Audience participation, costumes, props, projectors, a spaghetti launcher and even a pie fight have all made their way into a Wighead performance. The bands unyielding commitment to create a unique concert going experience has even garnered them an award nomination for Best Live Performance by the Absolute Best of Tulsa Music Awards. But not to let Wighead's antics take center stage, the music is still the forefront of live performances. With a more stripped down rock and roll approach to the music it gives their songs a fresher, more raw feel for the stage.

Additionally, Wighead has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with bands such as The Meat Puppets, That 1 Guy, Unwed Sailor, Ryan Lindsay and many others. And on top of playing many big stages and venues, Wighead also does children shows. The band has honed their craft of performance for many family-friendly gigs.