Squamish Valley Music Festival Act of the Day: Head of the Herd

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      Like Halloween, when the early October fogs start to roll in, and Christmas when the drug store starts playing "Jingle Bells" on November 1, it’s starting to feel like it’s almost here.

      Yes, we’re talking about the Squamish Valley Music Festival, taking place August 8 to 10 at the Logger Sports Grounds and Hendrickson Fields. In anticipation of the big event—headlined by Eminem, Bruno Mars, and Arcade Fire—we’re spending the next few weeks rounding up local artists who’ll be playing the open-air party, and getting them to answer some important questions.

      Like who they’ll be cueing up on the iPod for the Sea-to-Sky drive to the site, what they’ll be making sure to pack to make it through their set, the all-time dream-festival lineup, and who they plan to stalk backstage. Read on, but not before you pick up your Squamish Valley Music Festival ticket. The last thing you want to miss is today’s spotlighted act...

      Featured artist

      Not to be confused with Seattle indie-folk juggernaut the Head and the Heart, which is also playing Squamish this year, Vancouver's own Head of the Herd offers a modern take on classic blues rock. The band is led by singer-guitarists Neu Mannas (he answered our questions) and Clayton Frank, who consider themselves storytellers as much as songwriters. Head of the Herd won the Fox Seeds competition in 2011 and has opened shows for Alice in Chains, the Sheepdogs, and Guns N' Roses—and you just know there's got to be at least one story to be told about that.

      Sea-to-Sky playlist

      A$AP Ferg "Shabba"

      This song has been a go-to for us after club gigs for the last few tours. When the madness of the gig finally halts and you're back in the bus heading to the hotel...accept no substitutes.  

      Nine Inch Nails  "Into the Void"

      We're big Reznor fans in this band so NIN gets lots of spins on the road. They've established such a unique sound that their records make you feel like you're on another planet. Can't get enough of this band.

      Nina Simone "Funkier than a Mosquito's Tweeter"

      This gal is my favourite vocalist of all time. An enormous statement, I know, but I really don't find anyone punching in her weight class. It's not technical precision, and that's why it's powerful. Every note is packed full of feeling, energy, and drama, and it makes the listener FEEL every word she sings more than they hear it. The version of this tune we like is the live one. Repetitive and melodic percussion, great words, and Nina's voice...perfection.

      Jack White "Lazaretto"

      Bet you've never heard anybody say this guy doesn't take enough risks. Constantly redefining his sound, and what a song can be. This man is a visionary. "Lazaretto" is rhythmic how I like music to be, and absolutely off the wall. Show this song to someone who hasn't heard it, and watch their jaw hit the floor.

      Queens of the Stone Age "Smooth Sailing" 

      When people wonder what we do on the road. Ninety percent of it is head bobbing stank-faced to incredible songs like this. The drum entrance sets the mood rhythmically with a groove that commands movement. The vocal performance and lyrics float above it like only Josh [Homme] can do. It always reminds me of "Fame" by David Bowie in the best ways possible.  

      Big Boi "General Patton" 

      The most played song on my iTunes. Need I say more? This will either make or wreck your day.  

      Daft Punk "Something About Us"

      Always been a standout song of theirs to me. It's beautiful and melodic. Knows when to build up and strip down. Also, I came up as a bass player, and that bass line is minimalist perfection. Shows how percussion and bass should interact. Also, has one of my favourite guitar solos of all time. Parts of that solo inspired what I wrote for the "Breathe Me Baby" solo.  

      Prince "Pussy Control" 

      Our drummer Matty got me hooked on Prince on our first tour together. This song always brings the house down. The message in the song isn't how the title sounds. Just give it a listen and hear Prince being Prince.

      Outdoor essentials

      The last festival I went to had what I can only describe as an essential now. During TV On The Radio, some people at the back started frisbee-ing hundreds of tortillas over the crowd. Started a chain reaction I suppose you could call a fiesta? Either way, no festival could be complete without that now.

      I’d love to hang with...

      Eminem, that man's a legend. He is fearless in his artistry. He attacks head on, what most people would feel guilty even thinking about. The world needs artists like that.

      First festival experience

      When I was in uni, my grandma lived in California. She told me there was some big concert down the road and I should look it up. That wee concert was the 2007 Coachella where Rage Against the Machine reunited.... Didn't even think about it. Bought tickets and cruised in alone. It was really a life-changing experience. Seeing what I saw at that festival changed how I write music and approach live performance. I owe my career to the artists I saw that year.

      What's your fantasy festival lineup?

      Assuming we have the technology to reanimate the dead??  Who am I kidding....Of course we do. Then let's stick to that theme. Nirvana, Queen, Nina Simone, Beastie Boys, the Doors, Hendrix, the Beatles, Ray Charles, and obviously Tracy Morgan doing "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah".

      What’s your official rider request?

      Beer and water...we're easy....

      Oh, and a life size cutout of Nick Cannon, seedless strawberries, lime juice with the seeds from the stawberries, virgin's blood, pentagram stencils, and a VHS copy of Drumline.

      Trivia time: what’s Squamish’s official slogan?

      "We got Eminem and Head of the Herd motherfuckers, come on up."  Pretty confident that's it...the mayor's a fan.

      The festival takes place at Logger Sports Grounds and Hendrickson Fields. Quick—what’s your favourite logger sport?

      My third gig ever was at a festival with logger sports. During our set there were all these Viking-like dudes tossing axes across a field at targets. It was unreal, that's the one for me.

      Head of the Herd plays the Squamish Valley Music Festival’s Meadow Stage at 8 p.m. on Friday (August 8).