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Total Heels frontman talks Copenhagen garage rock scene

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Total Heels

Garage rock records are currently a dime a dozen, but something sets transatlantic quartet Total Heels apart. Earlier this year, the band released its self-titled debut, a fusion of sardonic glam, thumping post-punk, and sleazy guitars.

Singer Jason Orlovich’s vocal delivery conjures Johnny Rotten’s sneering apathy, but still can hold a tune. It’s one of Total Heels’ defining qualities. Orlovich chatted with EW about the Copenhagen DIY scene—check out his answers and the menacing “It Starts With a Bang” below.

EW: Some of the members in Total Heels come from Copenhagen. You’re from New York. How did you meet and decide to start recording?

JASON ORLOVICH: We basically met on tour. I’m the only one from New York, and I was living in Paris at the time. We were all playing in other bands, passing through the U.S. or Denmark pretty regularly. It was really natural. “Hey, I’ll send you some songs!” Then these demos started showing up via email and I was recording vocals in my kitchen, asking if it sounded okay. We didn’t actually get together until one of our first shows with Mudhoney. True story!

The Copenhagen DIY scene has been exploding for a while now. What makes that scene special? What other artists might epitomize the sound that’s currently popular over there?

It’s a super small scene, with a long history of crazy punk rock that sounds nothing like the stuff happening today. I think there’s an element of cultural tourism. People are looking for the next big thing and Copenhagen is still exotic. It’s always the same formula: bored kids with cool record collections. It’s been a strange few years, that’s for sure. We’ll see what happens.

Tell me about the recording of this track, “It Starts With a Bang.” Did you have any specific goals or inspirations? How would you describe the end result?

Inspirations? Not really. The whole album is basically first-take demos. That was the goal. We had no idea if the band would turn into anything, so we just went ahead without much thought. I guess this song captures that moment. It all kind of starts with a bang, right? The end result has people dancing, surprisingly. That’s always nice to see.

What artists have influenced your sound most? Who were you listening to while recording this record?

We’re all over the map! I can’t say we’re “discovering” any one style at this point. I guess everything starts with The Stooges and ends with Springsteen.