By the turn of the century, guitarist Jeff Tuttle was quickly making a name for himself as one of the shreddiest guitarists in the humble state of Michigan. His first punk band, the hook-driven Capture the Flag, had formed when he was still in high school, eventually cutting a deal with Go Kart Records for their third record, Start From Scratch, a document that wed his newfound mastery of the techniques of Eddie Van Halen with the earworm melodies of All or The Descendents. The Warped Tour and its many spoils seemed to await CTF, yet the guitarist/singer had more transcendent plans.
Formed in the early-aughts, Heads Will Roll connected Tuttle with drummer Dave Graw [then known as Spazz], an aptly maniacal personality known for setting himself on fire at the band’s early shows. Former 7,000 Dying Rats bassist Derek Swanson completed this trio and their progressive, artfully chaotic post-hardcore gained may Detroit-area fans. They released an EP, followed quickly by a full-length album, Extrapolate The Meaning, which expanded their vision to include both existential ballads and an evolved version of their balls-out prog-core. Tuttle insisted on recording his solos live, just like EVH, and refused to double his guitar tracks in the studio. If Eddie didn’t need such trickery, why should he? Live, he impressed many by his ability to play mind-bending licks while simultaneously standing on his head or leaping off his amplifiers. It may have been around this time that he began wearing kneepads on stage in order to protect his joints.
The group entered the DPA orbit by releasing the multi-suite mini-epic “Un Dimanche Apres-Midi A L’Ile De La Grande Jette” on a split 7” record featuring unearthed Thoughts of Ionesco demos on the flipside. Tuttle had attended TOI shows in the ‘90s and would join them on second guitar for their sole reunion show in 2017. The HWR side of the split 7” revealed a new scope for the band stylistically and emotionally, with walls of atmospherics and an impressive Tuttle vocal delivering a lyrical meditation about a painting by Georges Seurat. They released a final EP and recorded two more that went unreleased [DPA is in negotiations to make public this lost music].
HWR played often around Michigan and eventually toured opening for Dillinger Escape Plan, a voyage that would prove fortuitous for Tuttle, who joined DEP for a number of years, contributing to what many considered the best live performances of the act’s career. Drummer Graw became the frontman for Bang Bang and later Nice Hooves. Tuttle and Swanson eventually reconnected in Old Gods, this time with Tuttle handling only vocal duties and personifying (with blading techniques and all) a character inspired by his affinity for big-time wrestling.
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