Return of the Haunted Heads

By Justin Mitchell

The Oshkosh rock n roll music catalog expanded again in 2014 with the release of the seven song self-titled EP from the Haunted Heads. The second release from the band continues the thick, driving pop punk sounds from their debut album released in 2011, while similarly demonstrating clean and tight song craftsmanship indicative of their experience and proficiency in the world of music production.

The Haunted Heads are:  Andrew Johnson, Kyle Straveler, Eric Van Thiel, and Chad Lorge.  They like to snuggle.  Photo courtesy of the Haunted Heads.

The Haunted Heads are: Andrew Johnson, Kyle Straveler, Eric Van Thiel, and Chad Lorge. They like to snuggle. Photo courtesy of the Haunted Heads.

The band has been missing from the music scene much of the last year, while working on the album and pursuing other projects such as Holly & Plastic. However, the band is set for a return to the stage with several upcoming shows including a solid night of sounds at the Reptile Palace on Friday, October 10 that will include the Haunted Heads, Body Futures (MKE), Bruiser Queen (St. Louis) and long time pals, The Sleepwalkers. Each band is coming to town and showing up with brand new records of their own. Show begins at 10pm.

We caught up with these young Oshkosh rockers and asked them a few questions about music, Oshkosh, and Straveler’s song crafting black hole.

Oshkosh Scene: The EP is album #2 for the Haunted Heads but you’ve been involved in many projects before this.

Andrew Johnson, vocals and guitar: This will be the 16th album I’ve released. The first four were actually cassette releases. We had a record before a driver’s license. We recorded the latest record at Studio H. in Appleton. Tony Anders engineered and mixed the project. He has a fantastic ear and a great demeanor. Studios, bands, engineers, all by default, develop a comfort zone. I think we as a band, and Tony as an engineer, were both able to stretch each other just enough outside of these set borders, and it really made for a stronger result.

Eric Van Thiel, vocals and guitar: Seven.

OS: Did (Kyle) Straveler (bass) finally write a song?

EV: No


AJ: Even if Eric or I come into a rehearsal with a chord structure, melody and lyrics, I think we all find ownership in each individual song by the time it’s finished. As flawed as humans naturally are, the four of us communicate our way through the songwriting process pretty well. We’re all way too old and busy with life for this to be a drag. If it becomes a drag, there’s your deathblow.

OS: Talk about the local music scene.

AJ: We’ve been at this so long, it’s hard to talk about the music scene with any sort of neutral perspective. From the inside, it’s been worth every broken down van, shitty tour, night with no sleep and money sucking moment we’ve had. I’ve met so many of the most influential and important people in my life from all of this. From the outside, the scene as a whole can always use more support from the show goers. The idea that clubs feel like the have to shy away from a cover charge for fear of a weak turnout isn’t a good thing. Revenue means better sound, better sound men and women, better bands, and more importantly a little help for the bands/artists scraping by doing what they love.

OS: What is one change that the music scene could benefit from?

EV: More variety

AJ: It sure would be nice if the fine folks would dig a little deeper than cookie cutter pop, rock and country crap just because it’s easy to digest. I mean, someone made millions of dollars writing a song about a f#cking colored cup. I think we all need to feel a little foolish about that fact.

OS: You don’t like cups?


OS: What is the best venue in the valley for rock n roll?

EV: Reptile Palace and Mill Creek. Both have been very supportive of us, and both aren’t afraid to welcome bands of varying styles.

AJ: The best venue is the venue filled with people that want to be there because of the music. They’re (the venue) also trying to support the cause called original music, and bucking the trends to do so. Yo-Yo and the Boogies sell a lot of bud light, you know? There are a lot of good people in the trenches in the Fox Valley.

OS: Any upcoming shows?

AJ: Friday October 10th is going to be a steller night at the Reptile Palace. It will be the first local show we’ve had, aside from the Mile of Music shows, that we’ll have the new record in hand. (10” colored vinyl or cd avail.) It’s certainly a fav place for us to play and we’re part of a great bill. Body Futures (MKE), Bruiser Queen (St. Louis) and our long time pals, The Sleepwalkers are all coming to town and showing up with brand new records of their own. 10pm sharp, kids.

The ‘Heads have a facebook page, and have the best music video from an Oshkosh band possibly ever available for 36 Sharpened Saws from their debut album. You can check out the Reptile Palace (141 High Ave) at

Haunted Heads – “36 Sharpened Saws” Music Video from Northern Outpost on Vimeo.

Justin is editor of the Oshkosh Scene, and has determined that detailed communication is not the forte of Van Thiel.

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