At 22, the members of Atlanta trio the Head might seem like unlikely candidates to play ’60s mod rockers in the vein of the Beatles. The group’s members — twin brothers Jack and Mike Shaw and their childhood friend Jacob Morrell — were born nearly three decades after the Beatles released their first album, 1963’s “Please Please Me.”
And yet, Drew Fracher, the director of the Georgia Shakespeare show “One Man Two Guvnors,” says the group is a natural fit with the show’s ’60s aesthetic.
“I was talking to them about style … and I fired up a Gerry and the Pacemakers YouTube video, and the first thing that comes up is Gerry playing a great big Rickenbacker guitar exactly like (Jacob) was playing,” Fracher said. “I was just like, ‘You know, you guys were basically born to do this with us.’”
That’s not too far of a stretch, really, for guys whose rock-loving parents steeped them in the Fab Four, R.E.M. and Big Star from the time they could crawl.
Jack, who drums and provides backing vocals, and Mike, who sings lead, started playing together when they were 9. They brought guitarist Jacob, another musical old soul, into the fold in their freshman year of high school at Holy Spirit Prep.
They started out playing cover songs from the Stone Roses, R.E.M. and the Beatles, but quickly transitioned to writing their own retro-tinged power pop.
“We loved those bands so much, but we got tired of covering them so much. We wanted something new, but in the same vein,” Jack said. “We were playing a cover song and then we turned that cover song into a jam, and before you know it, we started adding our own key changes and our own chords. It was a very gradual process.”
The group gets to play both original and pre-written tunes during its “One Man” stint, providing 30 minutes of original tunes and its favorite covers before the show starts, then playing music to help transition between scenes. Dressed in natty sharkskin-style, ’60s-inspired suits, and with classic good looks, the Head gained some female fans during rehearsals, Fracher said. But it’s their “straight off the ’60s boat” sound that he’s most excited about.
“It’s got a great feel, it’s got a great retro sound to it,” Fracher said. “I was amazed when I first heard them.”
The British farce, an adaptation of the 1743 Carlo Goldoni play “Servant of Two Masters,” marks the group’s theatrical debut, but it’s far from the only way they’re branching out musically. They recently recorded songs with Big Star drummer Jody Stephens and famed R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter, and they’re planning to release their third LP next year, which Jack says is “heavier and more raw” than their previous material.
But before they put the finishing touches on the album, they have to get ready to graduate. The Shaws are students at Savannah College of Art and Design and Morrell studies at Georgia State University, and while they’ll all have degrees to keep in their back pockets by the end of the summer, their goal is to make a go of it as a band. They’ll hit the road full time in the fall, with an eye to breaking into new markets and collaborating with other groups.
Jack Shaw knows it might take the group some time to make a name for itself outside the South, in spite of already being veterans of the Atlanta music scene, but he says the band is ready for the challenge: “We’ve learned to be very patient.”
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