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How’s the second Head Cat album coming along?
The album is completely recorded and finished. We did two songs last year and then we took three more days this year and recorded four each day and mixed it on the third day. Lemmy, Jim and I have been playing together for 10 years, so we’re pretty quick and efficient at what we do now. Right now we’re trying to figure out what label to put it on and how to promote it because we were disappointed with how the first album was promoted.
How did you guys decide on the songs you’d cover this time?
Well, this time we actually did two original songs—one that Lemmy wrote—and the others were songs we’ve played around or did live. The reason this band works for Lemmy—obviously Motörhead is his real band—is because it’s just for fun and we never have band meetings or songwriting sessions. Three of the songs that we did were happened while we were in the studio and talking music and we’d pull up YouTube and check out the song, find out how to play it and within an hour of learning them we’re recording the tracks.
What is the Head Cat approach to covering songs?
The way we play with The Head Cat kind of defines the sound of whatever song or style we cover. You’re going to have Lemmy playing his bass through his Marshall stack, which means when we play live I’ll have to play through something just as loud and distorted to compete with him. For my playing style, I tend to go towards Johnny Thunder or more of a punk rock vibe with big power chords with plenty of double stops and not too much jangly stuff. We pretty much learn the chords and turn everything up to max volume [laughs] .We played the Beatles’ “You Can’t Do That” on this record and Lemmy doesn’t play bass anything like McCartney so he came up with his own bass line, which dictates the kind of rhythm guitar I can play. I play George Harrison’s riff, but I didn’t have a 12-string so I doubled it an octave higher and had the producer put it together at the beginning to sound like a 12-string Rickenbacker.
With all your projects and working with stars like Lemmy and Nancy Sinatra, what is the dynamic like when you’re working?
It’s been said before, Lemmy is rock ‘n’ roll … I can’t disagree with that one bit [laughs]. With Lemmy, what you see is what you get. As a person, he’s one of the nicest and most genuine people you’ll ever meet. It’s funny … he’s just so loyal to The Head Cat when he’s got so many other things going on around him. With who he is, he could easily throw his weight around in the studio or on stage—and it’d be typical—but it’s always a three-way decision on all things.
And with Nancy she would never call me Danny—she’d always call me Dan. She asked me when we first met if it’d be OK if she called me Dan because when she heard Danny she thought of boys. I told her I didn’t mind at all … but the only other person that calls me Dan is Lemmy.
To best describe the guitar tone from the first Head Cat album, I’d say it’s unruly, loud and completely rockin’. What is your typical setup for a Head Cat set?
A lot of our shows are one-offs or somewhere that we fly in, play a few shows and then leave so I generally request a 100 watt Marshall half stack. I’ve also used some Fender Hot Rod Devilles and turned them up as loud as they’ll go. This is the only gig that during soundcheck I turn my Marshall up almost to 10 and hit a couple chords and the sound man always gives me an OK sign and says, “Sounds great.” Any other gig I use much smaller amps and they always tell me I’m a little loud on stage and to turn it down a bit. With The Head Cat, no matter how loud it is, they always say, “Sounds great.”
We here at PG believe in the “relentless pursuit of tone,” what do you think makes up a good tone?
It is so hard to describe sonically what good tone is but I know it when I hear it. I really like when you hear a guitar tone that talks to you like a human voice as opposed to an electronic guitar. Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of that is in a player’s fingers and not the electronics. People like B.B. King can play any guitar and it’ll still sound like B.B. King, but plenty of people have Lucille replicas and don’t sound anything like him. Also, in a lot of the guitar tones I like there aren’t many effects between the guitar and the amp. I never got the idea of having vintage guitars and amps, but then have like 15 pedals between them [laughs]… that can’t possibly be that vintage tone those guys are looking for.
Danny B. Harvey’s Head Cat Gear
James Trussart Rusty Steelcaster
Fender Jazzmaster reissue (owned by Lemmy)
Amps & Cabinets
Marshall Murder One duplicate (based on Lemmy’s original vintage JMP Superbass amp)
Fender Hot Rod Deville
Lemmy Kilmister Signature 1992LEM Super Bass Head
Marshall 4x12 (Celestion Vintage 30s)