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Spotlight: BELLHEAD

In the spotlight this time is BELLHEAD and their tag line of "Male-female duo band. Two basses and a drum machine. No Guitar, No BS." is one of the most effective and accurate I've come across.

Never sticking to one genre or style, the band is difficult to pin down and label but with their no B.S approach to their music, you can tell there's no need for labels. I recently reviewed their EP 'Unicorn Bones' which I suggest should be read first HERE; In which I stated.. "Bellhead are an unexpected find who have impressed me almost instantly with a twist on traditional genres that I have not quite heard before and the passion Ivan and Karen have is very clear throughout."

Now the band have struck us with the tolling of their new EP in which they cover Bauhaus' legendary 'Sanity Assassins' as a Halloween offering; Still being fairly relevant today despite the original song arriving in the 80's. The very real exploitation of people's fear by the media and building upon the strength of those in power as they continue to stamp out opposition.

Sound familiar?

The visual effect compositor Scott Fedor has directed the music video for the cover.

Fedor’s impressive resume includes working on movies such as Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America 2, Bloodshot, X-men: Apocalypse, and Stranger Things.

'Sanity Assassins' music video:

Complimenting this track is 'Knife (Beware the Light)' which is another take on the track 'Knife' from the previous EP. This time twisting it in to a more upbeat, dancier and even darker evolution to the original.

Check out our full review of 'Unicorn Bones' HERE


Q. For those who don’t know you, who are the real Ivan and Karen and how did you come to find yourselves in the alternative and Gothic world, and who have been your inspirations in the past?

Karen: Growing up I was surrounded by good music, crazy fashion, and the alternative scene. I’ve always been heavily influenced by the 70’s glam and post punk into 80’s goth and synth.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for artists like David Bowie, Marc Bolan, and Lou Reed, I probably wouldn’t be doing music.

Being a Chicago native shaped my view in music; We’ve always had a strong scene that’s rooted in alternative, industrial, and metal. As for who the 'real' Karen is, I’m not sure yet. When I find her I’ll let you know.

Ivan: What Karen says and add Todd Rundregen & XTC. I read a lot of comics so Dazzler & Kid Eternity were my friends. I spent a lot of time at the library, the thrift store and anywhere else that didn’t cost much money. I’m left handed but learned bass on the right cause I would never afford a left handed bass. I found myself at shows gravitating towards acts that brought a showman ship to performing. Anything done with panache from David Bowie to Ministry.

Q. Bellhead is a band that really stands out by not sticking to any particular genre and indeed, blending genres in such a way that there isn’t any one easy label to place upon your sound. Is this the way you intended to be and is it the direction you will continue to follow?

Karen: When we started the band, we never really had an intention to be in a specific genre, or blend genres- we just wanted to make music that was enjoyable for us, and that we hoped people would also like. Ivan and I both have so many influences and music experiences that it just makes sense you’ll hear aspects of anything from Nine Inch Nails, to Magazine, to Death from Above, to Johnny Cash. It’s actually pretty freeing not to have to be pigeon holed in one specific genre.

Ivan: If ‘Zooropa’ was a genre we would fit right in. Unfortunately you’d never find us at the end of the search engine, so we pursue whatever excites us on any given song. It all makes sense from the crows nest.

Q. Have there been any special moments or turning points that really made Bellhead materialise and any subsequent moments that made you feel that all the hard work was paying off?

Karen: Everything has really been a special moment for me. The first time Ivan and I got into a studio together we actually wrote the beginnings of 'Knife'. It was a quick realization that this was going to work, and be a fun project.

I think recently, all the press and positive reviews from ‘Unicorn Bones’ EP has really been humbling (and a bit of a driving fire combined with more pressure and higher expectations) to want to keep writing material everyone will continue to love.

Ivan: I got Karen to finally talk to me about a future project outside of the bands we were in at the time, it was delayed by her being hit by a car. Karen is an unstoppable force...or maybe an immovable object...either way her stranglehold on a Thunderbird bass was immediately a lighting bolt for me creatively. We are both lifers musically so teaming up doubled our personal enthusiasm to create. First day in the room 'Knife' was born and the songs keep spilling out there after.

Q. With Unicorn Bones and now Sanity Assassins, there seems to be a recurring serial killer type vibe, almost in the way SKYND sing directly about certain individuals, Bellhead seem to have a love for the darker side of the world in general, would you say this is the case?

Karen: It never really was our intention to be on the darker side of things, and actually, we didn’t even realize that this was the case until it was pointed out to us. There was a show we played at a really cool microbrew outside of Chicago where we debuted a cover of Prince’s 'I Would Die4 U', and I thought it was a pretty and lovely cover. After the show, my fiancee said.. “That was unnerving and super dark”.

I guess we’ll keep doing what we’re doing since people enjoy it so much.

Ivan: This band is a lot like the Addams Family, It may seem dark from the outside but from the inside we are having a really great time being ourselves.

I’ve been told we are dark and I understand where people are coming from as they tell it, but for me, Karen, and the audience, we are the Addams Family.

Click the pic for some cool merch!

Q. From each of you, what would you say are three bands everyone should go and discover right now if they haven’t already?

Karen: I’ve been listening to a lot of different stuff on my playlists lately, but maybe a few artists which are inspiring lately are: July Talk, The Kills, and The The.

Ivan: I play bass in a band called [ m e l t e r ] I am really proud of. I recommend the band Plexi to anyone who has not heard of them as they are amazing.

I just came back from a road trip and Uncle Alice Cooper keeps finding new ways to give back to me. I met him last year and got to speak with him about Neil Gaiman’s contributions to ‘Last Tempation’. Q. Tell us about the music video for Sanity assassins, the imagery used, and the thought process behind it. Also what made you choose this song specifically to cover?

Karen: For me, I took a back burner on the creative process and trusted Scott to make the video. That’s something important, that I think a lot of bands don’t do; Which is trust the people who are experts and don’t try to do it all yourself.

Ivan: The fans picked the song. Much like the old Marvel comics `Because you demanded it'.

After the announcement of the Bauhaus tour last year, we asked what song we should cover live as a tribute. We took suggestions to heart, not only performing the track live, but then recording it. 'Sanity Assassin' was originally a non-album fan club release with only 300 copies by Bauhaus. We are grateful for the listener's participation and enthusiasm. Q. Which track are you most proud of so far and why?

Karen: For me it’s Sidewinder off of the Unicorn Bones EP. This was really the first track where I took 'lead' in vocals for a verse and pushed out of my comfort zone. It’s also a really good song that showcases how well Ivan and I work together complimenting each other's playing and singing styles.

Ivan: 'Runaway' was a great moment. I lied to Karen about where her vocal would sit in the mix. It’s an old producer’s trick but I need her to hear herself the way I hear her. From there forward she’s moved from a secure backing vocalist to a co-vocalist in the band. No regrets. I’m not done pushing her and she’s not done pushing me. I am proud of what we have done and very excited about what we are up to next.

Music video for 'Unicorn Bones':

Q. If you could work / collaborate with any other artist, who would it be?

Karen: I’ve been pretty lucky in my career to have been able to collaborate with a lot of really great artists already, from Chris Connelly (Ministry, Revolting Cocks), to our sound engineer Neil Strauch (Counting Crows’ engineer), a wonderful singer like Bethany Thomas, to remixing Stormburner/Ego Likeness.

I never turn down a fun opportunity to play or record with someone. But if I could have my choice, I’d love to work with Butch Vig in the studio.

Ivan: I’ve made a lot of records working with a variety of talent from Martin Atkins (Ministry / PiL / Pigface) to Dylan Ryan (Man Man / Cursive). One day I would like to tentatively hand the production rains to Tony Visconti, Dr. Dre, Aesop Rock, Trent Reznor or Butch Vig. Someone with a defined style but would still let us bleed through.

It’s hard for me to think about anyone else being involved as making a record is just me Karen and Neil Strauch engineering. The idea is exciting to consider though. We’ve done a few remixes for other artist and I look forward to more offers to remix other peers in the future. Q. What life lessons has Bellhead given you so far?

Karen: Get inspiration from everywhere, accept help from people who are willing to offer, eat healthy on the road, and always double check that your fog machines are plugged in correctly.

Ivan: Enthusiasm can not be bought. Leave nothing on the table. Play in your band like it’s your last. Q. Anything you would like to say to your fans?

Karen: Thank you for all the love and support, and we really hope to return it in person in 2021.

Ivan: I was in a St. Louis museum exhibit a bit ago on Miles Davis reading a Columbia Records memo that said.. “Just got off the phone with Mr. Miles Davis, He intends to call the new album ‘Bitches Brew’, Please advise.”

A recent video interview with the band with Micheal Nagy:

You can check out BELLHEAD's catalogue of music on the bandcamp plug-ins below:


BELLHEAD, Chicago’s rising Dark Post Punk duo, followed their critically acclaimed Unicorn Bones EP with a special release of the Bauhaus cover, 'Sanity Assassin' exclusively on Bandcamp on October 12th, and collaborated with The Marvel Universe Effects compositor on the music video.

Amid the unprecedented year of shut downs, natural disasters, and political unrest, Bellhead has continued to entertain and grab the attention of the international music community with their debut EP, 'Unicorn Bones' which was released this past July. Unicorn Bones was quickly seized upon by critics, and both the EP and the band saw reviews, articles and accolades from such media outlets like,The Deli Magazine (also featured September Band of the Month), Divide and Conquer, Bass Magazine, Breathing the Core, Chicago Music Guide, Music Eternal (August Band of the Month) and Radio veteran, James VanOsdol’s Car Con Carne(WXRT, the Loop, Cumulus Media, WZZN radio).

Songs from the Unicorn Bones EP have been in constant rotation on MMH Radio (UK), Hard Rock Hell Radio (UK), Lincoln City Radio (UK), Demo312 WKQX (Chicago), Deep Ellum Radio (Texas), and WXNA (Nashville). The video for Unicorn Bones had over 1000 views in less than a month and a recent live streamed 'quarantine' show performance in support of a local music venue in late September hit over 2000 viewers in less than 24 hours, showing that the demand for Bellhead wasn’t slowing down but instead just heating up.

After the announcement of the Bauhaus tour last year, Bellhead reached out to their loyal fans to ask what song they should cover live as a tribute to one of the bands main influences at an upcoming high profile gig. Based on fan social media feedback, Bellhead took the suggestion to not only perform the track live, but then record, 'Sanity Assassin'. The Bauhaus song was originally released as a non-album fan club release with only 325 copies ever pressed (the same amount as the physical release of this EP), and it has gone on to be a deep cut favorite for Bauhaus fans.

Filling out this EP is the Unicorn Bones album track, “Knife” along with a remix entitled 'Knife (Beware the Light)'.

To commemorate this release, the band has also joined up with for a merch line that includes shirts, socks, totes and mugs. HERE

Bellhead reunited with their faithful recording and mastering team of Neil Strauch (production/ technical assistance of Iron and Wine, Counting Crows, Owls, Joan of Arc, Walking Bicycles) and Carl Saff (production/ technical assistance on Acid Mothers Temple, Smoking Popes, Red Fang, Guided by Voices,) who have worked on all the previous releases for the band but this time they added a third member to their production team in visual effect compositor Scott Fedor in crafting the 'Sanity Assassins' music video.

Fedor’s impressive resume includes working on movies such as Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America 2, Bloodshot, X-men: Apocalypse, and Stranger Things.

Bellhead are a Post-Punk duo made up of two Chicago music scene veterans who have left their mark across the tattered music landscape. Consisting of High Bass/Lead Vocalist Ivan Russia, formerly of the infamous Ahab Rex, Mr. Russia, and Sheriff Scabs; partnering with Low Bass/Vocalist Karen Righeimer- who has been a member of bands such as Fashion Bomb, Team Cybergeist, W.O.R.M, and Bethany Thomas.


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