"HEAD FIRST" PRESS RELEASE :
ALIENS “HEAD FIRST” MISC009 / MISC010
ALIENS debut album “HEAD FIRST” will be released November 16th, 2007.
ALIENS is the musical entity created by Blake Sandberg. Blake began using ALIENS as a name as early
as 2002. (Please do not confuse ALIENS with “THE ALIENS,” the former BETA BAND) Blake was living in
New York City and trying to cope with the destruction of 9/11 and the lingering aftermath in his
neighborhood of Tribeca only blocks from where the Trade Center stood. Facing a crippled economy and
growing health problems Blake returned to his birthplace of Austin, Texas in 2005.
HEAD FIRST is the culmination of more than a year of recording and mixing. The first session started in
July, 2006 at the legendary SUN STUDIOS in Memphis. Recording at SUN was not planned, but more of an
accident. ALIENS stopped overnight in Memphis while traveling to do shows in New York. While visiting SUN
they found recording was still happening nightly at the studio that was the birthplace of rock n roll. A
session was scheduled and ALIENS returned to Memphis en-route back to Texas to record.
At the SUN session Blake was joined by the first ALIENS drummer Tamaki Ui who is a skilled drummer from
Japan, living in New York. (He has played and toured with NEW KINGDOM and recorded with JON
SPENCER). The pair recorded MOVING PARTS, COMMITTED TO WIND, and REFLEX MOTOR at
Having returned to Austin, Blake met Terry Bozzio(Frank Zappa’s drummer) and his family after an ALIENS
show. The meeting introduced Blake to Terry’s son Raanen, a drummer like his father. Later Rannen
would begin to play drums with ALIENS himself. Rannen, is still in High School and is becoming a powerful
drummer. He joins Blake on STOW AWAY, SERIAL KILLER, and the stunning SKELETON.
The Bozzio’s introduced Blake to sound engineer Mark Younger–Smith. Mark has a small studio built into
his house in South Austin. Blake played two songs for Mark looking for someone to help mix the songs for
a single. Mark liked what he heard and asked to listen to the other tracks on the CD, these included
“MOVING PARTS.” Upon hearing the track Mark explained that he would work on the single, but he really
wanted to work on this song too. They began working and produced the COMMITTED TO WIND single
(MISC003). Soon they discovered working together was straightforward and Blake found the studio much
like a tiny laboratory for recording in private. Immediately afterwards Blake asked Mark to help mix the
“DON’T PANIC” ALIENS LIVE AT CBGB SINGLE (MISC004) from a live recording made just before CBGB
closed. With two singles completed the two quickly made plans to record a full length album.
The bulk of the album was recorded with Mark engineering. This provided an interesting connection one
day when Mark announced that, “he would get Hunt Sales to come in and do some tracks.” Blake thought,
“OH SURE.” (Hunt Sales is the drummer on IGGY POP’s “LUST FOR LIFE” and a member of DAVID
BOWIE'S TIN MACHINE) Mark had taken to calling Blake “RAW POWER,” but Blake thought it was just
Mark teasing him. Mark called a few days later saying that Hunt would be in the studio, and had agreed to
do drums on two tracks, the next day!
Blake and Hunt immediately hit it off. Hunt wanted to hear something that was already laid down so Mark
played COMMITTED TO WIND and Hunt exclaimed, “You’re the Howling Wolf!” Blake and Hunt found they
had a lot to talk about: Jimi Hendrix, blues, the state of American society, and the local Austin music
scene. After a long conversation and smoke break outside on the curb Hunt even agreed to record
another track, when Blake explained that the song mirrored their conversation. They returned to the studio
and recorded ENJOY KILLING TIME (released on the MISC. SAMPLER, MISC006). On HEAD FIRST Hunt
appears on GUINEA PIG, a song reflecting Blake’s personal experience with chronic illness and
pharmaceuticals over the years. Hunt provides a solid beat on the poignant SURVIVOR STORY Blake
wrote while,”looking out the window watching the sun come up as Ground Zero burned.”
SHAPE SHIFTER reveals the wildly powerful drumming of current ALIENS drummer Ed Warga and the song
exhibits some of Blake’s fine lead abilities and use of pedals to create unusual effects. (Ed was formerly
the drummer for Austin locals, LAZAR WOLF) Ed has only been involved with ALIENS recently and brings a
more solidified sound to the drums for the band. Together Blake and Ed combine to form a powerful and
complex sound from only two musicians. Keeping the songs simply structured has allowed them to
concentrate on interweaving their notes and rhythms and for Blake to focus on vocals and guitar sounds,
adding variations to each song.
Growing up Blake learned a lot about drumming watching his older brother play drums. He shows this by
playing the drum parts himself on THEME, BEGGARS CAN’T BE CHOOSERS, GLACIER, and CLAMMY via
multi-tracking. Blake has used a UNIVOX transistor drum machine for several years. In recording it
became a helpful tool laying down guitar and vocals with the drum machine and tracking the bass and
drums over the unending beat.
Blake claims he wouldn’t be playing music and recording if it had not been for a chance discovery of an
album by BUTTHOLE SURFERS touring bassist and SHIMMY DISC founder KRAMER. The independent
label would open the door for Blake to find other music besides the more easily found HOMESTEAD,
TOUCH AND GO, SUP-POP, and SST releases. Also, it would introduce him to the thriving New York City
underground music scene and the network of smaller record labels in America. The discovery of hometown
icon DANIEL JOHNSTON via THE DEAD MILKMEN and other local bands THE BUTTHOLE SURFERS, THE
DICKS, SCRATCH ACID, and THE BIG BOYS provided a platform of amazing local talents and possibility.
KRAMER’S releases of HALF JAPANESE, JAD FAIR, UNCLE WIGGLY, WEEN, GWAR, GALAXIE 500, KING
MISSLE, and so forth gave him a broader sense of the underground music scene.
Ironically ALIEN MIND CONTROL, a Daniel Johnston composition was recorded on KRAMER’s old board in
New York. The same board was used to record Daniel Johnston, Jad Fair, and so many others. Blake
recorded three Daniel Johnston cover songs at the former NOISE NEW YORK studio just around the corner
from where he lived on Broadway. Also of note Blake recorded seven guitar tracks in the same studio for a
still unreleased album by Hugh Hopper(the bassist for the SOFT MACHINE) under the production of Virgina
KRAMER entered the project by writing an email to ALIENS, not knowing it was Blake’s band. “He found us
online and said he loved the tunes and he wanted to work with ALIENS,” says Blake. It was the perfect
compliment to the songs having KRAMER master the album. KRAMER’s sound and label inspired Blake as
a song writer and musician so having him finish the final product was the perfect resolution of the album.
HEAD FIRST reveals 14 tracks and a bonus track 15 in a little less than an hour of memorable music. The
unlisted “MIRROR SONG,” was recorded by Fred Remmert on a NEVE mixing board that was owned by
One audience member at an ALIENS show described them as, “two-man SEX PISTOLS.” The songs are
rock and roll and influenced by PUNK ROCK if not the real deal. Many of these are topically of the
moment, GLACIER obviously being about global warming with it’s “watch-the-ice-caps-melt” chant.
REFLEX MOTOR, is a breath taking assault of a song about war and oil. SKELETON is at once a lament
on life’s mortality and perhaps a reflection of the ongoing war itself. Sometimes the sound darkens further
in mood as in CLAMMY or in content with SERIAL KILLER, a song inspired and even quoting the “Son of
Sam.” MOVING PARTS and COMMITTED TO WIND seem to be statements about life in America growing
up in a pop culture – mass media environment. There is even a love song in, BEGGAR’S CAN’T BE
CHOOSERS, a questioning of love or lust.
The album proves that ALIENS are not afraid and not afraid to rock! ALIENS debut is an expansive album
each song adding a different sound or mood and feeling. Each song is simple, stripped down, but each
unique. The songs are direct and catchy. These are songs you will remember the next day.
ALIENS “HEAD FIRST” MISC009 LP / MISC010 CD
ALIENS “MOVING PARTS” SINGLE MISC008 MOVING PARTS / REFLEX MOTOR / SKELETON
ALIENS “MISC. SAMPLER” MISC006 “ENJOY KILLING TIME”
ALIENS “DON’T PANIC” ALIENS LIVE AT CBGB MISC004 / MISC005 COMBINES BOTH SINGLES ON CD
ALIENS COMMITTED TO WIND b/w STOW AWAY SINGLE MISC003