• Jul : 12 : 2018 - Interview with singer Matt Kinna of Headstrong (1998 – 2003)
  • Jun : 16 : 2017 - SPOTLIGHT: FAR AWAY STABLES – New Album ‘Between Rage and Serenity’
  • May : 31 : 2017 - Eclipses for Eyes – POLARIS Album Review / Video
  • Feb : 4 : 2017 - STARSET – Live Photo Gallery
  • Aug : 19 : 2016 - SILVERSUN PICKUPS – Live Photo Gallery

Headstrong was a Canadian rock band formed in 1998. They released one eponymous studio album under RCA Records before being dropped from the label and ultimately disbanding in 2003.

 

Comparable to acts such as 311, Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against The Machine, and Helmet, they used the popularity of Farmclub to promote their music. The strength of their first single, “All of the Above,” earned Headstrong over a million votes from fans of the television show’s site. They became Farmclub’s first international guest and were granted a performance at LA’s Farmclub stage in the summer of 2000. While there, they shared the stage with the likes of Kid Rock and Eminem and caught the attention of David Bendeth, senior vice-president of A&R, who signed them afterwards. Headstrong then made their live American debut at the CMJ Music Marathon on October 12 at Don Hills, New York City.

 

On February 19, 2002, they released their self-titled debut under RCA. Headstrong managed to find success with its single “Adriana,” which reached No. 15 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks and had a music video.
However, in August, a mere six months after their debut album’s release, Headstrong was dropped by RCA. The following year, in late April 2003, Headstrong decided to split up, citing disillusionment with the record label as one reason.

 

Headstrong have since gone on to become teachers, academics and media professionals in the GTA, Ontario, Canada. The band most recently reunited under pseudonym (The Legendary Castaways) to celebrate front-man Kinna’s marriage, performing two-shows, one with The Salads at the Hard Rock Café in Toronto, Ontario.
 

HeadstrongOrigin story – What was the first album(s) you recall that really sparked/pushed/inspired that ‘I want to start a band’ or ‘I want to be a singer’ journey.

 

To be honest, I don’t recall ever wanting to be a singer, or to start a band up until it actually started happening. I always enjoyed singing and music and there was soul, rock, funk and jazz playing around the house when I was a kid all the time. People playing live, I mean. My dad tried to make it as a jazz drummer for a long time, and one of my uncles was a pretty bad-ass pro guitar player so there would be jam sessions in the basement of our little house. I guess performing just seemed kind of natural to me. I loved Innervisions by Stevie Wonder, Off the Wall by Michael Jackson and Raise! by Earth, Wind and Fire. That’s where my love of music came from.

 

Brian (Matthews, Headstrong drummer) and I went to college together and kind of mused about starting a band. That’s where we met Joel and Jon. They had been playing in bands together for a long time. To us they were, like, pros. They helped us take it more seriously. They showed us the way. I remember the first time we actually recorded something. We had to keep stopping. I was really nervous because I didn’t want to annoy Jon and my nervousness kept coming through in my voice and kind of annoying Jon. It was only my second time meeting him.

 

What was the first live show you went to?

 

My mom took me to a Gordon Lightfoot concert when I was pretty young. It was really impressive to me how he was able to stand up there in front of so many people and make music. First concert I went to with friends, as a teenager was Metallica at Maple Leaf Gardens while they were touring the Black Album.

 

I mean.

 

The sheer power of the music almost fucking killed me. They opened the show with Enter Sandman, and when the tune really kicks in after that jagged buildup…boom. I was a new person.

 

 

What was one of your favorite live shows you’ve ever been to?

 

After first year of college Joel took me to see Tool at Varsity Arena here in Toronto. I had heard of them, but had not heard them. They were incredible, so tight. The opening bands were Flaming Lips, who didn’t really strike a chord with me, and Failure, who are still one of my favourite bands.

 

Did you perform any cover songs to get the crowds attention at live shows during the bomb32 days?

 

We covered songs by Faith No More, White Zombie, Green Day, Helmet, Tool, Failure, Pearl Jam…there’s more, I’m sure.

What were some of your most-well received songs during the live shows?

 

Probably Adriana, because it was familiar to people. Do What You Feel Like has kind of a bombastic swing, so it’s pretty fun live, and tends to make a connection with people on their first listen. The overwhelming majority of people we played for had never he

ard us, or at least most of our songs, so having quick appeal was certainly an asset.

 

Can you tell us about some indie or obscure numetal/rap rock bands that you admired during your time with the band?

 

There are two bands that we played shows with at various points in our career that I still listen to. The first was a band from Ontario called Pureblank. They opened for us a couple times. They were these awesomely heavy kids that had a great ear for creating badass riffs. I have no idea what happened to those guys, but I had a couple for their EP’s, and a few of their tracks are still in my rotation.

 

The second was another RCA signing around the same time as us called Hotwire. Their 2003 album, “The Routine”

is full of really, really good heavy, melodic songs with great hooks.

 

Tell us about some memorable experiences you’ve had along the way.

 

The things that stick are the really big festival shows. Being in the same place as so many really cool artists. Playing in

front of massive crowds. Was a great way for us to win over new fans. I’ll never forget the lead singer from Papa Roach running up to me after I came offstage at a festival set telling me how much he liked us. P.O.D. wandering into our trailer on a search for beer and then hanging out. Just kind of surreal moments like that.

 

Mixing our album at Ocean Way Studio in Hollywood with Jack Joseph Puig was really cool too. Lots of history in that place.


What was the inspiration behind the song Adriana?

 

It was a song about bullying and understanding the need to hurt other people.

What song (or songs) are you most happy with/proud of from the album?

 

I’m still really really happy with the way the album sounds. Especially All of the Above, Backlash, Get In, Do What You Feel Like and Hoodies and Hoods, Adriana and the track Build that precedes it.

 

I’m glad we had Dan Brodbeck produce. We had a great working relationship. He’s an incredibly talented musician and he contributed a lot of great ideas to the album.

Coming from Ontario and finding success in the US – how did the band handle the success of Adriana?

 

lol, success. I mean, it was cool that a few people knew who we were, and we got to shoot a music video at a time when nobody was really airing music videos. We were barely a one-hit wonder, so we just kind of enjoyed the ride. Every now and then we’d go to a place where we got treated like we were a big deal, but there was never a level of comfort, or a “We made it!” moment.

 

Would you consider your band a casualty of the beginning of the decline of the music industry and the boom of file-sharing?

 

Maybe at the time I did. But that was kind of self-deluding. There were many reasons that we never “made it big”, a number of factors that conspired against us being successful. But, there were lots of new bands that were able to have success at that time too.

 

I try not to make excuses for my role in what happened to our band. Not everybody we associated with had our best interests at heart. Not everybody we chose to help us navigate the process at that time really knew how to do so. But ultimately, choices I made, and the effort I put in, led to the outcome.

 

Seeing today’s state of the music industry and how easy it is to produce your own music, do you feel a pull to get back on a stage and perform or record a new album?

Yeah, I’ve actually been recording a bit over the past couple years with a friend who acted as our tour manager/sound engineer during our hey day. I’m trying to approach it casually because I know if I put too much pressure on myself I’ll stunt the process. It’s fun to be creating again.

 

When was the last time you listened to the Headstong album?

 

Most of the album is still in my rotation. It comes on in the car when I’m driving around with my 2 year old son. I just tell him, “That’s daddy yelling”.

 

Do you ever ‘reveal’ you identity when meeting new people and introduce them to your music?

 

Nah.

 

What’s in your playlist now?

 

Mostly old stuff. I’m old and lame now. I’m a relatively new dad. Plus, I work with kids, so I hear a lot more Old MacDonald than I care for. The last new album I bought is probably Local Business by Titus Andronicus. That’s a brilliant record, but a few years old now.

 

What’s your favorite books/movies?

 

I enjoy reading comics/graphic novels when I get the chance. Jonathan Hickman’s East of West series is really great. Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black stuff is very cool.

 

My favourite movie is Kung Fu Hustle.

 

Any other bands or stuff from other band members you want to plug?

 

Joel fronts a great blues cover band called, “Joel Krass and the Legendary Castaways” here in Toronto. Jon started a business making analog guitar pedals. His company is called Bishop Pedals and you can find them on Facebook and YouTube.

 

How much does your skin crawl when you still hear that damn Trapt song played on the radio? (I fuckin hate that song)

 

I try not to crap on anybody’s creative process. They created a hit song that resonates with people. I’m just not one of them. I fuckin hate that song too.

 

 

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