Based in DeLand, FL, Junior Bruce have been together since August of 2007. Over the last four-and-a-half years, they have produced several independently released demos exclusively available from the band, usually at their live performances. The Headless King isn't only their first full-length record, but also their first recording to receive proper distribution. From the moment opener "Defeatist," begins, this band's chemistry and experience are immediately clear. Junior Bruce are closely related to vocalist Scott Angelacos (ex-Bloodlet) and bassist Tom Crowther's previous unit, Hope and Suicide, and so their sound shares a closely knotted consanguinity. Junior Bruce are a more precise and deadly incarnation of that sound though, teeth filed to finer points and blades more highly sharpened. The Headless King is an aggressive yet somehow thoughtful combination of sludgecore and blackened Southern rock. The songs have a sense of gravity to them, a force that inexorably pulls the listener in. As the album progresses, the audience are overtaken by the uncomfortable feeling that their bodies are being co-opted by the riffs, neck muscles overridden by the rhythm. There is something very natural and organic to Junior Bruce's compositions, but there's also something profoundly disconcerting about how easily this album gets under your skin. The Headless King is perfect for those looking for classic, sludgy riffs and Angelacos's trademark punctured trachea vocals, especially if you rather enjoy being unsettled.
In an interview with Jeff Beckman for CVLT Nation, you mention that the band are named after the 1975 David Carradine film, Death Race 2000. Junior Bruce is somewhat villainous reporter who gets run over in the final scene and was played by infamous radio DJ Don. Did you intend this moniker to serve as a comment on, or indictment of, the music writing/radio climate and its relationship to heavy music?
Angelacos: Shit no! Our guitar player brought the DVD to the studio and we decided to pick our name from the characters in the movie. Machine Gun Joe was an option and Calamity Jane seemed like an emo band's name. We were trying for something ambiguous, something you don't see coming. You can't trust a dude in an ascot with a Bob Barker mic.
You, Tom and Bryan Raymond all played together in Hope and Suicide before forming Junior Bruce. In the same interview, you mentioned that Junior Bruce feel very much like an extension or continuation of that project. What is it that defines Junior Bruce as a separate musical entity?
We started Junior Bruce with a formula in mind: we intended to be a steamroller. We tossed out many riffs for not being "Bruce" enough. The previous effort wasn't held to any strict formula. Everything was fair game. In that way, Junior Bruce are very different.
What led to the dissolution of Hope and Suicide and the creation of Junior Bruce?
Junior Bruce started out with Tom and I jamming out riffs on off nights from Hope & Suicide. Bret [Tanner, drums] and Nate [Jones, guitar] came along shortly after that. Both bands were playing at the same time for maybe a year before Hope & Suicide stopped playing. I honestly couldn't tell you a reason that Hope & Suicide ended, other than to say it became harder to do.
You currently have three guitarists listed on the roster (Bryan Raymond, Nate Jones and Daniel Gonzalez). Are all three guitarists active members of the band, session members, live members, etc.? How does this depth at the guitarist position contribute to Junior Bruce's sound?
Ah, yes, guitar players, every band have at least one. Nate Jones and Bryan Raymond play on the record. Daniel played live with us when one or the other wasn't available.
Junior Bruce have existed since 2007, but The Headless King is your first full-length recording. Was the album something you have been writing since the band's inception or is it a collection of newer material?
We re-recorded three songs from our demo and the rest of the album consists of newer material.
What is the significance behind the title? Is there a larger concept behind the lyrics?
Other than a general feeling of unrest, we wanted the album to feel like an uprising. A headless king has nowhere to place his crown.
Prior to the release of The Headless King, all of your releases came in the form of independently recorded demos sold exclusively at live shows. What made you decide that it was time to record a professionally produced full-length?
There was no real decision; we have access to a studio and were recording the whole time. We had the album mostly recorded before we met Dom [Romeo, A389 Recordings].
Do you have any intention to make these early demos available?
We have never talked about it. I suppose there are a few demo songs I like.
How did you end up pairing with A389 Recordings? How does their line-up and aesthetic fit with Junior Bruce?
Dom contacted me about a Bloodlet reunion. It is my standard response to act as though he had reached the wrong number and the person whom he had called spoke no English and was convinced that the person inquiring about Bloodlet had really been trying to sleep with their wife. Eventually I sent him the record and he left me alone about Bloodlet.
What are Junior Bruce's touring plans for 2012 and beyond?
We would really like to get out west this year; we are open to whatever comes our way.
With every band in the universe reuniting, has there ever been any thought given towards a Bloodlet reunion?
Yo no hablar ingles. (A389)