Pop: Down to earth, with a bang

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Indy Lifestyle Online
One of the supporting bands to watch at the Astoria's NME season is Headrillaz, who have made the (un)natural leap from jazz to punk They go under the vivid name of Headrillaz and pump out tough, punky breakbeats with frenzied MCing to match. They have an album called Coldharbour Rocks, named in tribute to that edgy strip joining Brixton with Camberwell via unscenic Loughborough Junction.

Bearing all that in mind, you could be forgiven for thinking that this south London four-piece are the sort of characters that Prodigy try to portray in their made-to-shock videos. Instead, a visit to the Headrillaz bunker studio on the Old Kent Road finds four very affable Home Counties guys in their twenties getting into some serious lounging. It's a little bit of a surprise, but then again, they have to rest sometime. And besides steady touring and getting on with a new album, the hard-working 'drillaz also run a monthly club night at the Junction (on Coldharbour Lane), get lots of requests to do remixing, and one of the band's members, Caspar Kedros, even finds time to do a Saturday night show on XFM.

Guitarist and programmer Darius Kedros (brother Caspar plays keyboards and half-brother Saul MCs and vibes up the crowd) explains that the Headrillaz story started on New Year's Eve, 1995, when he and Caspar were playing in Slowly, a jazzy hip-hop outfit. For the last number of their set, they introduced the pounding Headrillaz sound. And that was the end of all that jazz. "Punky stuff was the natural progression from doing jazz,'' according to Caspar. "Hey, that jazz sounded all right to me," interjects Saul, from a near- horizontal position. "I didn't have to do all that jumping around and shouting. I had time to sit down and roll a cigarette."

Wrong Saul. It's the all-out rush of a live Headrillaz set that makes them a band to watch out for. Their gigs are a far cry from those knob- twiddling techno acts, and if they can really replicate that energy on their forthcoming album, then Headrillaz will surely be massive.

College kids in America have already taken to pogoing to the Headrillaz aural assault, but the US tour didn't excite the band too much. Darius dismissed it as "rock promoters trying to put on raves, though LA was fun because there were all these Candy Ravers - kids who actually wear uniforms of oversized and brightly-coloured dungarees and suck candy dummies. It was weird."

Drummer Steve, a resident of South Croydon, unlike the others who all live on or around Coldharbour Lane, reckons that places like the 333 Club on Old Street are a better setting.

"When we played there, it was a real moshpit, with lots of stage diving. Someone ripped the mirror ball off the ceiling and began throwing it round the room. It was banging on people's heads and someone had to come in and get rid of it in case somebody got seriously hurt. It was mad."

Headrillaz open for Bentley Rhythm Ace, Lo-Fidelity Allstars and Earl Brutus, London Astoria (0171-434 0403/4) 18 Jan

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