biography mp3s poster gallery offshoot bands - It Thing offshoot bands - (ex) Cat Heads links

What's up, Cat Heads?

Cat Heads offshoot bands have new and old music available at ripping good deals:

It Thing's It Thing's "Kensington Way Revisited" 180gm LP now available at ETown Records

The (ex) Cat Heads' re-release of "Our Frisco" (1990) is available at Darla Records.

The Cat Heads' 'lost' album, "Submarine" was reviewed by Peter Blackstock, co-founder of No Depression magazine, March, 2010.

The Cat Heads opened for Camper Van Beethoven at the CVB 25th Anniversary Show on June 28th, 2008, at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Jim Hoadley's review is here.

San Francisco's Rickshaw Stop hosted a reunion show on January 21, 2006 that included nearly everyone from The Cat Heads, X-Tal, It Thing, and the (ex) Cat Heads. The show was featured in SF Weekly.

Camper Van Beethoven with The Cat Heads - The Fillmore, June 28

Hubba album cover


Hubba photo on back cover




Submarine album cover

Cat Heads Biography

The San Francisco-based Cat Heads were formed by vocalist/guitarist Mark Zanandrea in 1985 and featured guitarist Sam Babbitt (Ophelias), bassist Alan Korn (X-Tal) and drummer Melanie Clarin (Donner Party), The band harked back to the angelic quirkiness of the hippies. The traditional rock base of their early efforts belies the band's overriding sense of ironic inspired lunacy, whether in the demented blues of I Would Kill for Suzy or the grotesque pow-wow of Golden Gate Park.

Their first album, Hubba (Restless, 1987), is a gentle infusion of country, blues and folk with a mature, "serious" sound. Zanandrea's crazed hippie sensibility injects novelty with Power Love and Pizza, and the band adopts the sweeping language of Television here, which Zanandrea marries with the garage rock of the Pretenders in Hanging Around. Korn channels the rock and roll of X in Victim and hams it up in the drunken country number Saved by the Bottle. In a more primitive vein, Babbitt offers the delta blues tune Need to Know. Here and there, we hear strains of the Jefferson Airplane or the Grateful Dead, but ultimately the musical hodgepodge draws from all the rock influences of the last twenty years, from the rabid folk rock of New White Wings to the tender and ethereal Lullaby, sung by Clarin. The group contains four very distinct personalities that somehow manage to come together as a whole, incorporating Korn's rock, Babbitt's folk, Zanandrea's blues and Clarin's pop.

The follow-up album, Submarine (Restless, 1988), maintains the earlier upbeat, trad sound while expanding the variety and maturity of their diverse styles. Zanandrea vents his lust to a hard-rock hook in the ultra-blues Little Less of Me and again, to frantic train-track tempo, in Hallelujah Dance (taking I Would Kill For Suzy to the max); then in Sister Tabitha he uses string section and harpsichord for a classical arrangement that makes for a Paisley Underground masterpiece. Babbitt gives a nod to Dylan in Grass, but Korn has the lion's share of material here, with a series of folk-rock refrains in heavy, noisy arrangements. Clarin sings the best of them, Apologize and Upside Down, but there's also Paradise and Alice on the Radio. And Korn authored the sweet ballad Postcard, covered in acid-rock glitter, as well as the hard-rock Crash Landing. They all have a pop sound par excellence, that sounds somewhere between the bar and the garage.

The following year the (ex) Cat Heads, consisting of Babbitt and Korn with their friends, Barry Hall and John Stuart, put out Our Frisco (Twitch City, 1989), an album of humble rock and acoustic numbers. The true heirs to the Catheads are the other two members, Zanandrea and Clarin, who nonetheless had to struggle to find a record label. The album The Ode to Billy Joe Bob Dylan Thomas Jefferson Airplane Experience (Baited Breath, 1992) was released under their new name, It Thing. Zanandrea and Clarin's It Thing was the ideal continuation of the Catheads and "The Ode..." relished in the juxtaposition of pop and rock, of tradition and new wave, of ethereal and aggressive.

The Cat Heads



Alan, Mark, Melanie and Sam


"S.F. Unscene Compilation" - 1986 Big Green Laugh (LP) - Golden Gate Park, Kill for Suzy
"Hubba" - 1987 Restless Records (LP/cassette/CD)
"Submarine" - 1988 Restless Records (LP/cassette)
"Our Frisco" ((ex) Cat Heads) - 1990 Twitch City (LP). Reissued on CD 2005 by Lamingtone Records
"The Ode to Billy Joe Bob Dylan Thomas Jefferson Airplane Experience" (It Thing) -1992 Baited Breath (CD)

MP3 and video links

Biography by Piero Scaruffi; reprinted here with permission from The History of Rock Music site - © 1999 (translated from Italian by Sarah Miller)

Reunion Show Poster

Cat Heads contact print

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