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Hang Out With Pez Head And All Their Friends
Pez Head
Humor is key. You gotta make people laugh. Then they feel more comfortable dancing and getting involved. - Elaine Tuttle
by Josh Davidson
 [Chorus and Verse] February 2002 Feature: Pez Head
Pez Head

Pez Head’s knack for fun is at the heart of their appeal. They cover songs with accuracy and a smile, making their audiences smile along as well.

Having fun in a rock n’ roll band is not as easy as it looks, but for a cover band it is an essential aspect of the show. If you can’t have fun, your audience won’t.

Like other successful Jersey cover bands, Pez Head delivers cover songs with a style all their own. The ability to put forth something different makes going out to a club on a Friday or Saturday night all the more appealing.

New Jersey audiences take great care in deciding who to invest their evenings in. The large number of acts continues to grow in the Garden State. The growth has been healthy and has created an elite group of acts the others look to measure up to. Pez Head falls right into this class.

Pez Head stands out for their ability to connect with their audience and striking an on-stage friendship with them. Audiences that don’t respond will not be quit on, and audiences that respond become a sixth member.

This ability developed at Freehold’s Cabin. The band made the bar their home and its audience their family. Unfortunately, the club has burned down, but the band kept going, seeking other homes. Of course, they brought their family with them.

Elaine Tuttle of Pez Head

Pez Head’s song delivery is done with great care. Singer Elaine Tuttle draws obvious male attention with her beauty and stage presence, and keeps it with her commanding vocal range and unrelenting energy. Her style adds depth to the band’s sound and song repertoire.

Guitarist Jay Jack can solo note-for-note or jump out and improvise, yet his song interpretations never blur the line of getting too loose. He has a cool stage presence that compliments his teeth-clenching guitar licks.

Doug Losche is the band’s utility man. He plays whatever the songs need, flavoring his keyboard and guitar lines to round out the band's sound. Growing up learning to solo from 80’s metal bands, Losche can shred faster than an Enron employee.

The rhythm section is variably tight and loose, depending upon the song's requirements, with bassist Frank Mount and Gino Gambino. Mount’s timing and feel in the bottom end never falters, nor does the energy he exudes.

The band continues to grow and is in increasing demand by the clubs. They receive constant weekend bookings and play every Sunday at Hoboken’s Cadillac Bar.

What year did you form and what were the circumstances behind it? What bands did you play in previously?

Doug Losche of Pez Head

Doug: We first formed in 1999. I was in a band called Eat-N-Crow at the time and our lead singer had left, so we were looking for a new one. I saw an ad for a singer, Joey Dawson, on a music website and invited him to come to a show and sing a song or two. He turned out to be a good singer, but not yet ready to sing three sets of music a few nights a week.

When he didn't get that gig, he told me he wanted to start his own cover band, in which he would play drums, since he had been a drummer most of his life. I hooked him up with Frank and our original guitar player, Rich. I was interested in this new band and two of the members were friends of mine already, so I decided to help out by playing guitar and keyboard parts at a few rehearsals. Very quickly, I realized that this band was going to be something, so I put more and more time into it.

We then decided to bring a female lead singer into the mix. The singer who ended up taking the position in Eat-N-Crow had previously been in a band called The Brat Pack with Elaine and he recommended her. She auditioned, we loved her, and we had a five-piece band. A few months into playing gigs with two bands, I decided to devote my time to Pez Head only and I quit the other band.

Elaine: [The Brat Pack’s] members went on to form Smack Daddy. Some members from Smack Daddy are now in Saturday Nite Fever and Daddy Pop. Before The Brat Pack, I sang in a corporate disco band called Dance Fever.

What made you decide to be a cover band? Did the success of other area cover bands around you, like the Nerds and Dog Voices, play into it at all?

Elaine: For fun and money. It beats working a full time job, and you get to meet lots of other musicians, which is helpful when you want to put an original band together. The success of other bands only made me aware of the job opportunity. I never realized, until seeing bands like the Screaming Violets and The Willies, that cover bands at that scale even existed, seriously.

Doug: It was really Joey's idea to start this band, when he didn't take a gig as a singer. I knew the benefits of being in a cover band and what kind of success others had. So, naturally we were shooting for success like some of the big cover bands have had.

Frank: Not the success. The energy behind the crowd and the fun of it all. I never ever picked up my bass and said, "hey, this will make me money.”

Did it take some time before you started to draw crowds or did you draw right away? What do you think caused people to come out and see you at first?

Elaine: It always takes time to draw crowds, but our band has a lot of friends that come out regularly, and it just grows from there. We've been told by club owners that our appeal comes from the variety of music we play, and that we get people to spend a lot at the bar.

Frank: We had drawn in our area in places like the Cabin immediately, but it took a while at other places. If they didn't know us personally they probably just heard good things about us.

What were some of the bands you covered early on? Was there a specific genre of music you stuck to?

Frank: The genre was and is basically everything.

Elaine: At first, we covered a lot of 80's rock, like Boston, the Scorpions, Rush, Journey, mostly bands with male lead vocalists who sing very high. But even then, we covered a lot of ground.

Doug: We never stuck to one genre of music. Our intention was to appeal to everybody. We played classic rock: Journey, Boston, dance music: Whitney Houston, Jackson 5, modern rock: Offspring, Blink 182, 80's (and) rock: The Scorpions, etc.

What were some early clubs you played?

Elaine: The Cabin was a weekly gig, Bar A had us play weekly for a while, The Mad Hatter is where he had our first gig, and The Palm Grill has had us playing once a month since the beginning.

When did you start playing the Cabin? How did you become regulars there? How did its burning down affect your band?

Frank Mount of Pez Head

Frank: That was the worst day of my time with Pez Head. All my best memories and good times of any shows came from there. I'd rather play to our crowd at the Cabin than a packed arena because it was high energy and intimate at the same time.

Doug: I believe it was the fall of 1999. We did very, very well there because three of the band members were from Freehold, the next town over from The Cabin. So we were able to draw a lot of people there. The bartenders were great. There was plenty of room, so everyone liked going there. They hired us as the regular Thursday night band.

It's burning down hurt us a great deal. We lost a steady Thursday night gig so, of course, it was a good deal of lost income. It's been kind of difficult to find another club near there that can accommodate our Freehold area crowd.

Elaine: We started playing the Cabin right off the bat, from what I recall. We drew lots of people there mostly because most of the band members are from Freehold. So we ended up playing there every week on Thursdays.

It's a shame that the fire shut things down, but we picked up other gigs right away.

The Edge of Town in Farmingdale serves as the Cabin's replacement, although we never played there weekly.

Pez Head at The Palm Grill

What other clubs have been popular places for you to play?

Elaine: The Orange Lantern in Paramus is a great gig for us, since all our North Jersey fans and friends come out in large numbers to get down and party. The Junkyard is the same way, and also allows us to play to a lot of people, which has broadened our fan base. The Palm Grill is one of our favorite places to play since the crowd there is always ready to party. The Cadillac Bar has us every Sunday, and we love being there!

Secrets in Ocean City, Maryland is a rocking gig! The club is huge and beautiful, with state-of-the-art lighting and three cameramen, and we're treated like celebrities there, by the club itself and the fans. We look forward to every gig there.

PJ Ryan's in Pearl River, New York loved our first gig there last month, and they are booking us for more shows. Willie McBride's in Hoboken is consistently a great time. We played there New Year's Eve and kicked it Pez Head style.

The Whiskey Bar in Hoboken will be graced with our presence on Friday, Feb. 8th. Briody's in Rumson, Coach's "Whatever" Cafe in Staten Island, the Bull in Piscataway, the Speakeasy in Belleville, Kites in McAfee, and Pier on 9 in Sayerville are all bar and clubs we frequently play.

And Martinique in Point Pleasant will have us on Thursday, Feb. 7th, and hopefully every Thursday thereafter.

Do you have any methods for keeping a crowd involved?

Frank: We let people sing and play instruments, or just let them all get onstage and dance.

Elaine: Humor is key. You gotta make people laugh. Then they feel more comfortable dancing and getting involved. I do frequent "socials" where everyone in the place raises their glasses for a group toast.

We also like to grab people onstage and let them sing, play, or just make fools of themselves as much as they want.

Doug: Once in a while, we'll have some kind of contest and give away some drinks.

The crowds never seem to get tired of the classic party songs like "Blister in the Sun", "I Will Survive", or "Play That Funky Music". I've noticed that 80's rock hits have been real popular too. People ask us to play Bon Jovi and Poison all the time.

Any specific personal or crowd favorite songs?

Frank: My favorites are whatever the crowd responds to best and it all depends on the crowd and the night.

Elaine: Crowd favorites are “Livin’ On a Prayer”, “I Love Rock 'N Roll”, “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Blister in the Sun”, “I Will Survive”, “The Joker”, “Baby Got Back”, “Could You Be Loved”. We do so many songs that people go nuts for.

Gino Gambino of Pez Head

How do you work out each song as a band?

Doug: We decide on a few songs to learn and we all learn our parts at home. Then we'll get together at a studio and rehearse them. Sometimes we'll just learn our parts and play the song at a show for the first time. We never would have thought of doing that 2 years ago. But now that we're comfortable with each other, we can pull it off.

Frank: We hear it, learn it, rehearse it, and make any necessary changes like medleys and such.

Elaine: Everyone learns their part on their own. Then we get together and play it once or twice. It's not as difficult a task as it may seem.

How have you maintained a level of success for this long?

Frank: Keeping at it and still loving it.

Doug: Advertising and keeping the song list fresh. We're working on new posters, the mailing list is growing, and the web site is updated.

Magazine articles are a big help too. We try to keep changing the song list to fulfill requests and to stay on top of current music.

Elaine: Being cool and friendly with club goers. Showing them a good time and getting them involved in the gigs.

What led you to going on VH-1 Cover Wars?

Elaine: An ad in Guitar Center's catalog, and encouragement from Mike Arbeeny from 107 Productions Worldwide.

Frank: We have no shame. A lot of people backed out because of fear or embarrassment or bad publicity. It sounded like a lot of fun to me and we're all confident enough in our musical ears and teamwork to get through it.

How did that help the band?

Frank: We got 2nd for the season. Not too bad, considering after I knew who the competition was I figured we'd be gone 1st round.

Doug: It's big-time advertising. Club owners look at that and are more inclined to hire us. It helped us increase our income and our bookings.

Jay Jack of Pez Head

Elaine: It helped us draw more people who were interested in seeing us because of our success on the show, and it helped us get more dates at clubs we hadn't yet played.

Do you see a lot of people return to shows and do you see a lot of new faces as well?

Frank: Yes. We always meet new people and make good friends. That's the best part of it all. People from everywhere, all different kinds of people and they're so cool.

Doug: We do see a good number of people return to see us, especially in certain clubs. There are always many, many new faces.

What type of music do you like to play and listen to other than the bands you cover? Why? Do any of you write original music?

Elaine: I love funk, like James Brown and P-Funk, because it's all about the groove. I also love jam bands like Phish and The String Cheese Incident because of their excellent musicianship and ability to get the entire place on their feet, dancing and singing along.

And how could I not mention Tenacious D, Jack Black and Kyle Gass' mock-rock acoustic band? They are incredibly funny and very talented. I obey the D!

I write my own music, and should be ready to play out in NYC around March/April with my band. The music is a cross between funk and jam band stuff. Sort of like Dave Matthews/Brand New Heavies music.

Frank: I listen to and play everything because I like to and it helps me be a more well-rounded player. I'm not as narrow minded about music than when I first started 10 years ago. Back then I was just listening to metal and rock. I owe a lot to my teacher, John Walby. Without him being the teacher and friend that he is I wouldn't be anywhere with music right now and that would suck.

I'm currently with a new original band called Clever Hans. I love doing originals. I can't describe it as anything else but rock. Dave Sgalambro is my singer/guitar and James Welles is my singer/lead guitar player, and Quinn English is our new drummer.

I see a lot of potential with the music. I couldn't get along better with these guys. We all know each other really well musically, if that makes sense? Our website is www.cleverhansmusic.com. We'll be playing the battle of the bands at the Saint in Asbury on Sunday April 21st.

Doug: I personally like a lot of the new rock/metal type of music that's coming out, like Linkin Park, Adema, Korn, etc. I'm also into progressive metal and I grew up on 80's metal.

What do you see in the future of the band?

Doug: I think as we push for more advertising we're going to see another increase in income, more repeat customers, and a schedule that is booked solid.

Elaine: Steady, great-paying gigs and lots of good times.

Frank: Lots of fun, friends and success.

Fans can follow Pez Head's future on their official web site, www.pezheadmusic.com.

Josh Davidson
Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.
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