Aug 13, 2020

Head Rush rocks, with horns

Head Rush, which is made up of Fresno State students, recently reinvented their sound. “We’re more rock than ska. It’s like rock with horns. Well, we’re not really ska and we’re not really rock,
Benjamin Baxter / The Collegian

“How can we rock your face today?” the headline on Fresno band Head Rush’s MySpace profile asks its fans and Web page viewers.

Although the band promises to rock faces, exactly what type of rock that will be has been up in the air ever since Head Rush completely reinvented itself a year ago when it added three more members and a horn section to its band.

“What we sound like has been really hard to pigeon-hole ourselves into but we’ve been using ‘rock-ska,’” Adam Elmore, the 20-year-old lead singer and acoustic guitarist of Head Rush said.

Jeff LaRose, 21, who plays trumpet in the band, adds that, “We’re more rock than ska. It’s like rock with horns. Well, we’re not really ska and we’re not really rock. There’s a stigma attached to a ska band of an immature sound,” LaRose said.

The band initially was composed of Elmore, David Heckman, 22, on guitar, Mike Bonner, 21, on drums and Mike Baltazar, 22, on bass.

Head Rush has now added Brian Nunes, 20, on the saxophone, DJ Clovis, 22, on trombone and LaRose on trumpet.

“I wanted to add more to it so we added horns. It was really empty when we first started [as a four-piece band]. The music wasn’t big enough. The horns added a whole new energy,” Elmore said.

Heckman said the addition of the horn section has helped in writing new melodies and the band has incorporated the horns into the older songs.

“It helped us define and shape our songs in big ways,” Heckman said.

The addition of the horn section and new members to the band was a smooth transition because all of the band members are Fresno State students who met in the university’s marching band. Six out of the seven members are earning degrees in music education, music performance or music composition while Baltazar is a mass communication and journalism major.

“We’re all really good friends, which is a definite plus. It’s a lot easier to have a band with someone you don’t hate,” Heckman said.

All of the band members have been involved in music from a very young age and most started playing an instrument in elementary school.

LaRose said their band has been compared to a young Blood, Sweat and Tears and Tower of Power. He personally compares the band to “Ben Folds with horns or Third Eye Blind with horns.”

Elmore writes all of the lyrics but a few of the other band members are involved in writing the material for the songs. Heckman writes the guitar parts while Nunes, a composition major, writes the horn parts.

“I like to write the core material for the songs and let the musicians do what they do best,” Elmore said.

Elmore said that not too many of the band’s songs are dark and deep but that they are not “all cheesy pop.”

“We have some maturity to our songs — both lyrically and musically. But we also like to cut loose and play a fun song,” Elmore said.

Head Rush is trying to practice as much as it can and play as many shows as possible, but that can become tricky with seven members and their busy class schedules and outside job requirements.

Also, many of the members are involved in other Fresno State bands that include the jazz band B, the jazz band A, the wind orchestra, the downtown Bulldog Beat, marching band, the trombone choir and the percussion ensemble. Heckman and Elmore also play in the non-school bands the Moonlight Jazz Orchestra and Elmore plays bass in Los Hooligans.

Currently, the band tries to practice about once a week and plays one to two shows per month but hopes to practice four days a week and play at least two shows per month during the summer. The band plans to play some local shows as well as some gigs throughout California. The band’s MySpace Web page at lists upcoming tours.

“Summer is going to be a development time for us — in terms of writing tunes, rehearsing and creating our image as far as merchandise, our own webpage and our new CD is concerned,” Elmore said.

In the year the band has been together, Head Rush has played at least 15 shows from the Babylon in Fresno to a lawyer’s conference at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Head Rush also participated in Vintage Day’s Battle of the Bands and placed third.

The band currently has a six-song self-titled demo CD and plans on recording a full-length CD that Head Rush hopes will be available in time for the fall semester. The demo is available for $5 and can be purchased at one of their shows or ordered by sending a message to the band’s MySpace page Heckman encourages people to check out Head Rush because, “It’s a fresh new sound that could appeal to many people.”

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