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RIP EXCLUSIVE: A CONVERSATION WITH FOOTBALLHEAD UPON SIGNING TO TINY ENGINES

Kayla MorenoNov 17, 2023

Earlier this year, Footballhead frontman Ryan Nolen sent me the SoundCloud link to the band's freshly mixed and mastered debut album, Overthinking Everything. Initially, it was released independently; these days, an independent first release is often the most practical path for an artist to take. I was impressed from the jump – and rightfully so. The band has a knack for creating their own sound while keeping a hint of welcome familiarity, borrowing from classic emo and punk tricks of the 90s and 2000s.

It was no surprise to me that the band was quickly picked up by an independent record label called Tiny Engines. However, just before they announced their exciting news, we sat down (or rather, stood up) for an interview at their show in Los Angeles where they opened for Say Anything at The Regent. One of my favorite pastimes is picking at an artist's brain, and developing an understanding of their creative process. After getting to know the band this year, I couldn't imagine a more fitting artist for our first in-person interview.


Kayla: Footballhead initially started as a solo project, right, but you migrated away from that idea. What was your final push into a more traditional band setup?

Ryan: I didn't ever think I would play the project live until I was asked one day to play it in Chicago, and it sounded exciting so I rallied these guys, and now it's a full-blown band.

Kayla: In a similar vein, now that it is a full band, what's your writing process like?

Ryan: A lot of the time, it'll start off with me and Snow. Then, we'll get input from whoever's around; it could be Adam, Liam, or Matt. Sometimes, we'll jam together to flush an idea out.

Adam: These two do it all!

Ryan: A lot of the writing and recording stuff...I'm a [BLEEP] audio engineer, and I don't know good sound from a bad one – so that's Snow's genius right there.

Kayla: It's hard to do it yourself. You always need like, two or three extra pairs of ears, you know?

Matt: Footballhead is a state of mind. Anyone who's in the room at the moment is a participant.

Kayla: So we're all participants now. If you could have written one song by any other artist, what would it be, and why?

Liam: "Sister Christian" by Night Ranger because that may just be the sickest chorus of all time.

Matt: "Be Quiet And Drive" by Deftones. That's the best song of all time.

Ryan: "Flurry" by Puddle of Mud. That chorus is so memorable and it's super indicative of being in the car with my mom when I was a kid, so it evokes that feeling for me.

Snow: I gotta say probably "I Stand Alone" by Godsmack because it's not only really, really ridiculously aggressive, but it was also a major radio hit – so that's cool.

Adam: I'm gonna go with "Detour" by Footballhead.

[Everyone, at once]: You forgot the "why."

Adam: Footballhead better.

Kayla: And of course, the question everyone's waiting for... what are your plans for the future?

Ryan: Put out our record... again. Put out another one after that. (With Liam) Not two, not three, not four!!

Ryan (ctd.): We've had a really awesome year, and we've had a lot of fun together! Being able to re-release our first record is really exciting and when that time comes, which will hopefully be like, pretty early in the year, I think we'll all be stoked.

Kayla: Is it being remastered?

(Whole Band At Once): Yes, it's being remastered.

Adam: Remastered better.

Ryan: It's going to be physically and digitally distributed, so we're going to have handheld copies of it.

Snow: Shoutout to Dan Norman.

Ryan: There's even more music that's not on the album, and it's even [BLEEPIN] better.

Liam: These dudes are cookin'!


I'm in an extremely fortunate position where I sometimes get to see bands as they evolve from the ground up. This is one of those circumstances; knowing a bunch of musicians means that I get the privilege of watching their various projects throughout the years, supporting different kinds of sounds and ideas along the way. Footballhead, specifically, has a promising future together, and Tiny Engines seems to understand their creative vision without having the inclination to change it.

I'm looking forward to hearing Overthinking Everything's remaster, as well as their second, third, and fourth releases afterward.

Keep up with Footballhead here.