Headacher is the fourth album Ryan Allen (former singer/guitarist for Thunderbirds Are Now!) has made under the “Extra Arms” name, but in a way, it’s also the first.
Let’s explain: Since 2010, Allen has made most of his records on his own under the name Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms. He wrote all the songs, played all (or most) of the instruments, and generally functioned in a bubble, cranking out acclaimed power pop records like 2015’s Heart String Souland 2016’s Basement Punk(“Best LP of 2016” – Pop That Goes Crunch, “#2 Album of the Year” – Absolute Powerpop). But you can only isolate yourself for so long until you feel the urge to collaborate with others. That’s where the impetus for what ended up as Headacher came in.
When it was time to play shows to support Basement Punk, Extra Arms band members Michael Gallacher (guitar), Ryan Marshall (bass) and Sean Sommer (drums) rallied around Allen and brought that album’s songs to life. It was fun. It was loud. And they did cool shit like play with the Aquabats, Rooney, and Ted Leo & the Pharmacists. Things were going so well that they decided, “Fuck it. Let’s be a real band. Let’s write a record. Let’s record it together. Let’s just be Extra Arms.” And with that, “Ryan Allen & His…” was lopped off, and Extra Arms was born.
Headacher (release October 12 on Get Party Records) is the culmination of four friends collaborating on songs, playing to their strengths, and ultimately writing a record that is as catchy as it is meaningful, as meticulous as it is powerful. Allen’s crunchy power chords intuitively intertwine with Gallacher’s searing guitar lines, and Marshall’s steady low end is the perfect complement to Sommer’s bombastic drumming. Allen’s voice is the glue that holds these 11 tunes together, singing lyrics touching on everything from the political (“Headacher,” “Ends Meet,” “Push the Button”) and the personal (“Honey Brown,” “Under Surveillance,” “You Make the Life You Want,” “The Last One”), to observations on culture (“Done to Death”), and a maturing musician’s place in the world (“Old Heads,” “Til the Casket Drops”). There’s even a song about running (“Why I Run”). You know, like, running marathons (and ultimately towards something).
Headacher was captured at Big Sky Recording by Geoff Michael (who helmed Basement Punk as well) and mixed/mastered at Buzzbomb Studios by Paul Miner (Touché Amore, Thrice, New Found Glory, Joyce Manor, Lisa Loeb – yeah, that Lisa Loeb – and many more). The record slams with the ‘Mats honesty, Husker’s abandon, Superchunk-y energy, and the Fannies melodicism, all played by a band firing on all cylinders.
Catch them live!
9/7 @ Avenue Cafe, Lansing, MI – GTG Fest w/ The Plurals, the Stick Arounds & more
9/8 @ Dally in the Alley, Detroit, MI
10/5 @ Call the Office, London, ON w/ Grievances, Isolation Party & Seek
10/13 @ Cellarmen’s, Hazel Park, MI – “Headacher” Release Show w/ Touch the Clouds & Reuther
10/26 @ The Burlington, Chicago, IL w/ SNST & Lettering
11/2 @ Yellow Cab Tavern, Dayton, OH w/ The 1984 Draft & more