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Salt Lake City Weekly The "Hard Copy" on Headshake!

Tabloid Rock may save the planet!

By Bill Frost

AUGUST 11, 1997:  "The aliens are very concerned about this missing song, which we believe will bring about the apocalypse," says Headshake singer/guitarist Pete Weiland.


Keyboardist Scott Mangione elaborates: "About eight years ago, I started working on this project. I took all these songs, from ancient tribal chants to the mega-hit pop songs of today, trying to find what they had in common, what made them touch people. With the aid of a super-computer that I've designed, I created the perfect song. It is amazing. The chord progressions, the melody, the instrumentation, everything is just perfect. This is like no song man has heard before. But, somehow, all of the computer records were either erased or stolen — the song is nowhere to be found, I can't find it! If it falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the end of humanity as we know it!"

Yeah, OK, whatever: Welcome to the world of Tabloid Rock.

Tabloid Rock is the new release from Headshake, the party band that never says die. They come from an era when "Modern Rock" cover bands, like the Bachelors and Only a Test, roamed the Wasatch, bands that clung to the playlists of KCGL/KRP/KJQ for dear life. Thankfully, those other groups died the miserable deaths they deserved — the artists to be known as Headshake persevered and rolled with the times.

Today's Headshake, however, is not the same psychedelic-funk-grunge monster of their past two CDs. Guitarist Dale Garrard and bassist Mark Orndorff have disappeared under mysterious circumstances, leaving Weiland and drummer Nigel Redd as the band's only original members.

In keeping with the Tabloid Rock concept, each member of Headshake, new and old, has assumed a stage persona — not unlike, say, Kiss, the Village People or the KUTV news team. Mangione (no relation to Chuck) is the genius scientist, lead guitarist Dave Pearl is the heart-breaking lady killer, bassist Jason Meadows is the new age philosopher who channels alien revelations, Redd is the gun-toting conspiracy theorist and Weiland is the charismatic leader, a beer-assisted hybrid of Jim Morrison and "Star Trek"'s James T. Kirk — I have dubbed him the "Lizard Kirk."

There is also — no lie — a Tabloid Rock movie in the works: If you thought Air Force One's plot was far-fetched, just wait for this epic. Mary Dickson is reportedly giddy with anticipation.

Big concept aside, Tabloid Rock is a musical time-tunnel into the heart of the '80s, no matter how vehemently the band denies any retro agenda. The Romantics, INXS, the Escape Club and a host of other "Modern Music" memories can be heard peeking through the grooves — intentionally or not, Headshake has switched gears just in time for the revival. In fact, the only complaint they've received about Tabloid Rock from early test audiences concerns the catchy, boy-loses-girl-to-another-girl track, "She's Been Looking at You": They can't get the tune out of their heads.

"All of the songs are familiar, but different," says the Lizard Kirk with a completely straight face. "We set out to make a fun album, to get away from the darker sound of our first two albums."

"It's a more of a happy, uplifting thing," says Redd, the guy who firmly believes that every man, woman and child should not be merely allowed, but required, to carry a firearm.

In conjunction with the release of Tabloid Rock, Headshake have struck up a sweet deal with Blockbuster Music — there's a sordid tale of Hollywood-insider deals and the like behind this, but space is limited. Suffice to say, Headshake is knee-deep in the corporate world.

"We're in the Blockbuster warehouse, so you can go to any Blockbuster anywhere and find Tabloid Rock. We're by-passing as much of the industry as we can," says Weiland. "Blockbuster wants us to do in-store appearances, so we're going to do a promotional video, "Hard Copy"-style, that they'll mail out to the stores. Then we'll do the "in-stores" just about everywhere in the West — we've got a pretty cool promotional campaign coming up."

Headshake is still fine-tuning the live show for the road, so they're going through the usual highs and lows of performing locally. One week after a SRO blow-out at the Zephyr, the 'Shake are doing hard-time with the Dockers 'n' beepers crowd at Green Street, who are about as interested in the band as they are in going home alone or sober.

After running through several tight, raucous versions of their own songs, Headshake give in and trot out the covers: Like clockwork, one shabby piss-take of "You Shook Me All Night Long" gets a bigger response than the previous hour-and-a-half of originals.

Undaunted, the Lizard Kirk looks forward to more proper presentations of the Tabloid Rock experience: "I think that people deserve more for their money. When they go out at night and spend their five bucks, they can see something like Jurassic Park — if they're going to hang out with us for three hours, we're going to give them something more: That's show biz, baby!"

Tabloid Rock is available at (of course) Blockbuster Music, as well as other fine outlets; the next full-production Headshake concert (Aliens! Fog! Gunplay!) happens at Spanky's on Aug. 23. In the meantime, inquiring minds can get the full Tabloid Rock story on the Internet at http://headshake.x96.com.

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