By Toni Pennello - [email protected]

NEPA indie rockers Head Spell to release debut EP, ‘Take What You Can Get’

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Head Spell performs at Creative Corner in West Hempstead, N.Y., in June. Singer Jon Arocho collaborates with guitarist Zack Dondey to write many of the songs, and is the primary lyricist.
Courtesy of James Grottola
Head Spell has only been active since January, but the members have known each other for many years.
Courtesy of Mike Cicchetti
From left: Jon Arocho, Zack Dondey, Conor McKeown and Tyler Chau. Head Spell plans to release an EP called ‘Take What You Can Get’ in late 2017.
Courtesy of Conor McKeown

Pocono Summit and Kingston-based indie-rock band Head Spell can tell you that sometimes it’s difficult to know where your relationships will take you. For them, acquaintances turned into friends, and then bandmates.

The band will release their debut EP, “Take What You Can Get,” late in 2017. Although they have only been active since January, the members have known each other for years.

Drummer Conor McKeown and guitarist and vocalist Jon Arocho graduated from high school together, and have played in bands together in the past. The two met bassist Tyler Chau while Chau was living and playing in bands on Long Island.

Guitarist Zack Dondey and Arocho met through their respective projects, circa 2009, and worked together at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg for years before they started seriously jamming. The two continue to be a driving force for Head Spell’s writing process.

“They get together and start off with a skeleton of something,” Chau explained, “Zack has a small studio set up at his house, so they record it, and then Conor and I work on it on our own or at our next practice. From there, Conor and I add our own flavor to it.”

Chau added that the home studio comes in handy during the writing process — it gives them the ability to demo out the songs after they are finished.

“We can look back and see what we can change, and we can break down certain parts. It really helps,” he said.

Arocho said that he and Dondey draw influence from indie-rock bands like Weatherbox and From Indian Lakes, but that it is difficult to narrow it down to a few bands.

“I can’t really say I only listen to one thing that would make me say its my influence,” Arocho said.

Dondey said the band does not have a set release date because they plan to send it out to labels when the masters are done.

“We’re not sure which label specifically we want to pick, but we will be doing a little label shopping,” Chau added.

The outfit chose Vudu Studios on Long Island to manifest their vision. Billy Mannino, a friend of theirs, was the audio engineer, and they said that he was the perfect choice.

“It was really easy to work with him. He really captured the sound we wanted,” Chau said. He added that Mannino’s previous work with Long Island band Oso Oso sold them on the studio.

“(Mannino) picked up on things before we even did,” said Arocho. “It was really nice to have someone so on with everything, and right on the same page as everyone else.”

Besides juggling their own jobs and personal lives, the band has to make do with a marginally long-distance bassist, but none of them see it as an issue.

“It’s about an hour drive, and I hate driving at night. It gets lonely. That’s the only thing,” Chau said.

When they aren’t jamming, the band bonds over one common interest: Japanese anime and manga.

“It’s really cool to have that one thing that we all bond over,” said Arocho.

Sometimes the two worlds combine — fans can purchase a Head Spell shirt featuring a frame from the hit manga series Death Note.

Head Spell performs at Creative Corner in West Hempstead, N.Y., in June. Singer Jon Arocho collaborates with guitarist Zack Dondey to write many of the songs, and is the primary lyricist.
https://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/web1_james-grottola2017828233031561.jpgHead Spell performs at Creative Corner in West Hempstead, N.Y., in June. Singer Jon Arocho collaborates with guitarist Zack Dondey to write many of the songs, and is the primary lyricist. Courtesy of James Grottola

Head Spell has only been active since January, but the members have known each other for many years.
https://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/web1_mike-cicchetti2017828233031929.jpgHead Spell has only been active since January, but the members have known each other for many years. Courtesy of Mike Cicchetti

From left: Jon Arocho, Zack Dondey, Conor McKeown and Tyler Chau. Head Spell plans to release an EP called ‘Take What You Can Get’ in late 2017.
https://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/web1_HEAD-SPELL-PRESS2017829105756288.jpgFrom left: Jon Arocho, Zack Dondey, Conor McKeown and Tyler Chau. Head Spell plans to release an EP called ‘Take What You Can Get’ in late 2017. Courtesy of Conor McKeown
Friendship turns creative for Head Spell

By Toni Pennello

[email protected]

Reach Toni Pennello on Twitter @TLArts.

Reach Toni Pennello on Twitter @TLArts.