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Footballhead started as the solo project of vocalist and songwriter Ryan Nolen, but quickly transformed into a fully-fledged modern Midwest rock unit after teaming up with The Academy Is… bassist Adam Siska. The legend says Siska loved Nolen’s project name, saying, “That’s stupid, I like it,” upon joining the group. Shortly thereafter, one thing led to another, and the official lineup solidified into reality. Sometimes, collaborative efforts make all the difference— Nolen’s friends breathe life into every second of their debut record, ‘Overthinking Everything.’

Initially released as an independent effort, the record became a favorite among mostly local fans. The impressive work got the attention of indie label Tiny Engines, so it was stripped from streaming services temporarily while it received a makeover. It’s amazing what a few extra resources, like an indie record deal, can do for a band full of potential.

Much like the record’s first efforts, this new iteration has a lot of heart in each note. Of course, one could argue that’s expected of the genre, but it shows when every member of the group likes what they’re playing. It may be Nolen’s lyrics, but every guitar (Liam Burns, Snow Ellet) and bass riff perfectly aligns with the emotional aspects. The drums (Robby Kuntz) guide the mix forward, never overpowering essential elements yet still guiding wallflowers to the dancefloor. It helps when already skilled musicians take the lead, which is, of course, true for every member of the group. Their unique playing styles take center stage in every song, without fail.

Photo: Calla Flanagan

‘Overthinking Everything’ is a fascinating body of work; much of it sounds like your mom’s favorite 90s grunge rock radio station, with a twist. Songs like “Tightrope” could top alt radio charts, but it isn’t a tired reiteration of something you’ve already heard a thousand times. Complete with a catchy chorus and tight instrumental, “Tightrope” highly represents what Footballhead is great at.

Standout tracks “So I Stay (Petty)”, “Talking Nonsense,” and “Ugly Day” is gritty and melodic, taking contrasting elements to create something whole. Siska’s bass playing in “Ugly Day” symbolizes what I mean when I mention each member’s unique ear and skills at the forefront of these songs. His work in “Ugly Day” is so in line with his style that it’s unmistakable. Nobody is fighting for the spotlight in ‘Overthinking Everything.’

Footballhead’s ear for production (Snow Ellet) tends to lean towards duality and contrast. Songs are dancey and memorable, yet topical and, most importantly—honest.

A newly-signed band can show off as much as they want to, with heightened budgets guiding the way. However, there’s a huge difference between acts who sort of like making music and those who genuinely feel it. “Are You Sorry On The Way Back Down?” is another great example of this phenomenon, with people closest to the band in their world introducing the track. This is a band that means it; they went to the house shows, they played in garages, and now, they love what they do together.

This record is proof that trusting the process is essential. Sure, the first time the record dropped, it was good! The second time I heard a remastered version of a single, it was great. But the chance to hear the record as a whole for the first time (again) was amazing. If you have the chance to see Footballhead live, do it. You’ll be able to say you did before they were alt-radio superstars.

Listen to ‘Overthinking Everything’ by clicking HERE!