Rising from the Texas underground scene, NARROW HEAD have quickly amassed a devoted following for their standout live performances and open-hearted, emotionally naked songwriting. Today, they’ve announced their signing to Holy Roar Records for their second album, ’12th House Rock’. Their latest entry is the distillation of the greatest moments in 90’s alternative and hard rock with a fresh set of ears, thirteen tracks of NARROW HEAD’S signature brand of bludgeoning lullabies bursting at the seams with creative ideas, new directions and massive, monolithic riffs.
Using distorted guitars as their primary vehicle, NARROW HEAD’S wall of riffs add stark contrast to their best quality– deceptively sweet pop melodies — showcased loud and clear in lead single “Night Tryst” – which was premiered exclusively last week in the UK with the Radio 1 Rock Show (listen – HERE). The track, vocalist / guitarist Jacob Duarte explains, “I wanted to create a fairly dark world with my words. Kind of like the reality William Burroughs creates in Naked Lunch: a grimy world of drunks and druggies filled with endless nights of unknown substances, pleasures, and regrets. I put my life and experiences into that world and those are the words that came out.”
Delving into deep-seated themes of self loathing, desolation, self-medication, the loss of loved ones and hopeful redemption,12th House Rock is, as the title suggests, a rock-focused LP themed on transition– exploring the vast abyss of darkness just before the sun cracks upon the horizon. “A lot of the record was made in the late hours and early morning,” recalls Duarte. “Those quiet moments alone when utter silence and my self-medication made it impossible to escape from my own thoughts. It was also from a specific time when I didn’t take care of myself and made bad decisions in all aspects of my life. These songs were a way out, temporarily anyway.”
NARROW HEAD formed in 2013 but became fully realised as a band in Houston with the release of their 2016 debut album Satisfaction and the lineup of Duarte, guitarist William Menjivar and drummer Carson Wilcox. Playing in the Texas scene instilled a can-do attitude, an ability to explore several different ideas along with a strong set of DIY ethics, qualities that still form the basis of the band to this day. “Book your own shows, book your own tours,” details Duarte about the foundation of his musical viewpoint. “I think that having other musical projects provided a scene for us to play too. Nobody else was looking at us, so we had to make our own scene.”
’12th House Rock’ was self-produced and born of close to a hundred takes with no click track, vocal correction, drum samples or quantising, resulting in thirteen testaments to pulverising pop, clocking in just above 50 minutes. Initially only Duarte, Menjivar and Wilcox in 2018, the trio of old friends entered the studio with a batch of songs intending to write bass parts on the fly. “I’ve known Jacob and Carson since childhood and they are the most talented musicians– total prodigies,” states Menjivar. The three looked to build an LP that reflected current tastes as well as “music [they] looked up to as kids,” according to Menjivar, adding their own twist
on the entirety of it.
Though the primary trio was present throughout the entire cycle, fate would intervene on bass as the undeniable chemistry between the band and then strictly producer Ryan Chavez led to his inclusion in NARROW HEAD. The newly minted four piece would handle the bulk of the remainder of the album, bringing in Erica Miller (Big Bite,Casual Hex), vocalist/lyricist on “Delano Door,” and mastering guru Sarah Register (Big Thief, U.S. Girls, Protomartyr) to put the final touches on the record. Guitarist Kora Puckett (Bugg, ex-Sheer Mag), who previously logged hours as a live member in the tours preceding the album, would join NARROW HEAD as a full-fledged member following the album’s completion.
Despite whatever comparisons that can be made to guitar tone, mood, songwriting, timbre or virtually anything else, NARROW HEAD are quick to credit their native Houston, TX as the primary source for it all. “Houston is the greatest city on earth,” says Duarte emphatically. “People who know, know. In Houston, you have to give people a reason to pay attention to you.” With ’12th House Rock’, not only will NARROW HEAD have Houston’s attention, but the entire rock world as well, giving us one of 2020’s most impressive releases.
’12th House Rock’ is available 28th August 2020 via Holy Roar. Following on from tours with the likes of Fu*ked Up, Higher Power, Vein and Sheer Mag, look out for more NARROW HEAD touring ASAP.
Keep up with NARROW HEAD on Instagram here.