American Head Charge

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American Head Charge
Place of origin Minneapolis
Genres industrial metal

American Head Charge
American Head Charge performing in 2014
American Head Charge performing in 2014
Background information
Also known asHead Charge, AHC
OriginMinneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Years active1997–2009, 2011–present
LabelsNapalm, DRT/Nitrus, American
MembersCameron Heacock
Justin Fowler
Karma Singh Cheema
Benji Helberg
Jeremiah Stratton
Past membersChad Hanks (deceased)
Bryan Ottoson (deceased)
Dane Tuders
Jamie White
Aaron Zilch
Dave Rogers
Peter Harmon
Wayne Kile
Sin Quirin
Ted Hallows
Chris Emery[dead link]

American Head Charge is a metal band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The band has earned two nominations at the Kerrang! Awards.

History[edit | edit source]

Formation[edit | edit source]

Early incarnations of the band sported names such as Flux, Gestapo Pussy Ranch, and Warsaw Ghetto Pussy, although these were short-lived. The name Flux was already adopted by another band and so was dropped due to the chance of copyright infringement and libel, while the latter names were abandoned within a period of six months so as not to alienate prospective label interest. "I'm a fan of 3-word names", Hanks said in a December 2001 interview. In reference to the band name, he confessed; "It means nothing. No meaning by it. Pretty much that purpose right there." Although sometimes speculated that their name was taken from Adrian Sherwood's famous dub label On-U Sound act African Head Charge, which was formed in the early 1980s, it is in fact a coincidence. Chad Hanks remarked in an interview before they were signed that, "It turns out that there is actually a band called African Head Charge; it's so hard to be original these days."

Trepanation[edit | edit source]

After settling on the name American Head Charge, the band made their debut on the underground industrial metal scene with their 1999 independent self-released album Trepanation. The personnel on the album saw Heacock and Hanks (now respectively re-christened Martin Cock and Banks) joined by guitarist David Rogers, Peter Harmon on drums, and Christopher Emery on keyboards/samplers. Further exposure came through two track offerings to Dwell Records tribute albums, namely in homage to industrial bands Ministry and Marilyn Manson. Second guitarist Wayne Kile, keyboard player Justin Fowler and sampler/sound programmer Aaron Zilch joined the ranks during mid/late 1999, while Peter Harmon parted ways from the band and Chris Emery took over the vacant drum position.

After supporting System of a Down in Des Moines, Iowa in August 1999, System of a Down's bassist Shavo Odadjian was impressed enough that when American Recordings label owner Rick Rubin asked Odadjian if there were any bands he should check out, he told Rubin about American Head Charge. Six months later the band was offered a record deal with Rick's American Recordings, then under the Columbia Records umbrella.

The War of Art[edit | edit source]

After the local success of Trepanation and the band's signing to American Recordings in 2000, the band moved to Los Angeles to begin work on their first major label album with producer Rick Rubin at the helm, living and recording at the infamous Rubin-owned Houdini Mansion. The War of Art, released August 28, 2001, sold over 12,000 copies in the United States in its first week and went on to sell over 250,000. However, like many "heavy" bands at the time, sales of the album suffered immediately after the 9/11 attacks.

American Head Charge, commencing a live schedule in support of their major label debut, began their professional touring experience on Ozzy Osbourne's 2001 Ozzfest, playing 3rd on the "Second Stage" for the entire tour. They then got a slot on the "Pledge of Allegiance" festival tour, headlined by Slipknot, No One, Mudvayne, Rammstein and System of a Down. Guitarist Dave Rogers marked their concluding show of this tour in New Jersey by wholly playing the concert performance naked; this led to his subsequent arrest after the performance. In December 2001, the band co-supported Slayer alongside Ohio groove metal band Chimaira for the first two months of the American "God Hates Us All" tour. Following shows were headlined by Kittie, hardcore punk band Biohazard, and Texan stoner rockers Speedealer, preceding a four-month Scandinavian/European/UK/Japanese tour headlined by Slipknot. Other bands they have toured with include Coal Chamber, Ministry, Gravity Kills, Hatebreed, Static-X, Mudvayne and Otep.

Guitarist Wayne Kile departed from the industrial outfit in early April 2002, paving the way for former Black Flood Diesel guitarist Bryan Ottoson. Just 24 hours after getting the offer to join the band, Ottoson flew to Los Angeles and marked his inclusion to the band participating in the filming of the music video "Just So You Know".

The Feeding[edit | edit source]

After a two-year hiatus, drugs had taken control of much of the band. According to their MySpace page, three members of the band had become chemically dependent, with two of them going back into rehab. Guitarist Bryan Ottoson even stated that the band looked so doomed that he was almost checked into a mental institution for fear of suicide. The band started writing and recording.

During the demo process, The War of Art producer Rick Rubin became increasingly elusive, and the band subsequently asked to be let out of their recording contract. Rubin respected their request without any legal squabbles. The band's producer on The Feeding was The War of Art's engineer Greg Fidelman. American Head Charge recorded for four months, feeling this was by far their most disciplined record to date. The Feeding was released on February 15, 2005. The Feeding spawned one radio single "Loyalty". They also recorded a music video for the song "Cowards", featuring former UFC fighter Chuck Lidell.

Death of guitarist Bryan Ottoson[edit | edit source]

Guitarist Bryan Ottoson: 1978–2005

Guitarist Bryan Ottoson died on April 19, 2005, at the age of 27 in the middle of a tour conducted with the bands Mudvayne, Life of Agony, and Bloodsimple. The musician's body was found lying on a sleeping bunk on the band's tour bus in North Charleston, South Carolina, where the group was scheduled to perform at the Plex club. According to North Charleston police documents, scene investigators concluded the guitarist's death was the result of an accidental prescription drug overdose. Police discovered a pill bottle of "amounts of prescription medicine" in Ottoson's bunk. Ottoson had been battling severe strep throat with prescribed penicillin, and he was also given an unnamed pain medication.

Band members informed police they last saw Ottoson alive around 4 a.m. on April 18, 2005, as they went to sleep before leaving Jessup, Maryland. Ottoson had consumed "a large amount of alcohol at a bar" in Jessup that evening, according to police documents. This statement is reported as inaccurate by bassist/co-founder Chad Hanks: "Bryan, myself, and our tech D-Rock walked to the bar just before last call, and we were stone cold sober. We all had two shots of vodka and one beer each. No more. No less. If 3 drinks is a 'large amount of alcohol', then apparently my mother is a raging alcoholic." Police were called to the scene around 6:30 p.m., April 19, 2005, and Ottoson was deceased by this time. Hanks and Cheema remarked to police that "Ottoson was a heavy sleeper, and it was not uncommon for him to sleep late before a concert."

Can't Stop The Machine[edit | edit source]

On April 3, 2007, American Head Charge released their first DVD Can't Stop the Machine, through Nitrus Records. Along with it came a 10 track CD with live and unreleased songs, including a remix of The War of Art single, "Just So You Know". They supported the release with a two-month U.S. tour that began on May 5 with their ninth sold-out First Avenue show. They played an "encore performance" of the tour's final sold-out show at The Rock in Maplewood, Minnesota on September 14, 2007. This would be their last live show together.

On August 11, 2009, the band issued a press release, stating the band had disbanded. The press release cited singer Cameron Heacock's "inability to continue on a musical career path." "This is not the kind of news I enjoy being the bearer of, but we've been ready and waiting for input from Cameron for almost two years; we've written and recorded two albums worth of material in that time." said co-founder and bassist Chad Hanks. "At this point, he no longer gives being in this band any sort of top priority, which is so sad seeing as how he has such an amazing and unique voice; I couldn't wait to hear it on these songs. "However, we're looking forward to some new blood; a young, hungry soul that doesn't sound like anyone else and is ready to work his ass off. We're more than eager to get back to the mines. This is what we do."

On January 18, 2011, American Head Charge's long dormant MySpace page showed a new status update, "Stranger things have happened...", grouped with a new background and a new icon showing a disembodied hand breaking out of the ground. The name on the page was changed from "RIP American Head Charge: 1998–2009" to "American Head Charge". However, since April 17, 2011, the name on the page again showed as "RIP American Head Charge: 1998–2009", refuting the possibility of a reunion for the time being. In the following months, bassist Chad Hanks made posts on his Twitter page, saying that the band is back together with guitarist Karma Cheema, drummer Chris Emery, vocalist Cameron Heacock, keyboardist Justin Fowler and himself. "Rehearsals are tentatively scheduled for July/August" posted Hanks on his Twitter page.

Reunion and Shoot[edit | edit source]

On June 30, 2011, bassist Chad Hanks announced the band planned on rehearsing again and making more music.

On October 6, 2011, the band posted on their Official Facebook page that Sin Quirin, former guitarist of Ministry, Revolting Cocks, and Society 1, will be featured on their upcoming "tourette" as a second guitarist. In October 2011, American Head Charge embarked on their "tourette" with supporting acts Wrecking Day, Gabriel and the Apocalypse, and Dead Horse Trauma. It was announced on February 29, 2012, that American Head Charge will participate in the Hed2Head Tour 3 supporting Mushroomhead and (Hed) PE.

Subsequently, the band recorded the EP Shoot (initially planned to be called Interstice). The EP's first single called "Sugars of Someday" was released on iTunes May 9, 2012. The band said that proceeds will go towards funding the next album.

The five-song Shoot EP was self-released July 23, 2013, with a national tour starting two weeks later. Part 2 of the Shoot tour hit the UK and included a second leg tour of the US.

The track listing for Shoot includes the previously released single, "Sugars of Someday", the three new songs "Writhe", "Set Yourself on Fire", and "Sand", as well as a cover of the Patti Smith song "Rock N Roll Nigger".

Resurgence and Tango Umbrella[edit | edit source]

In March 2014, the band started an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to finance the recording of their fourth studio album, the first full-length recording since 2005's "The Feeding". Dave Fortman had been tapped to produce the album. The band raised $53,370 exceeding the initial goal of $46,000. The band offered fans everything from downloads of new songs, pre-orders of the new album, signed gear and handwritten lyrics, (V)VIP access to shows, name in the album credits, personal lessons, a chance to perform with the band and guestlist for life. One contributor donated to get the band to play their zombie themed wedding reception.

Following the success of the campaign, the band played multiple shows with Wayne Static and performed at the Download Festival in June 2014. Following the Download performance and a few dates in the UK, the band holed up in Kentucky at Third Sky Studios to record the long-awaited full-length record.

In October 2014, the band accompanied Soil, Hed P.E. and Wolfborne on a tour across Europe and the UK. The band was set to go on a tour a week after returning to the states with Wolfborne and joining Wayne Static and Powerman 5000 for a multi city US tour. Due to the death of Wayne Static on November 1, the bands regrouped and decided to continue with the tour in Wayne's memory.

After 6 months filled with recording and touring, the band took time off with a "Holiday Hangover" show on December 27, 2014, planned for Minneapolis' Turf Club. The band teased a big announcement for December 9 via Facebook On December 9, the band confirmed a two-month spring tour with Coal Chamber, Filter and Combichrist.

American Head Charge released their new album, Tango Umbrella, on March 25, 2016, via Napalm Records.

Death of co-founder/bassist Chad Hanks[edit | edit source]

On November 12, 2017, founding bass player Chad Hanks died at the age of 46, after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. A benefit and memorial concert to Hanks was held on Sunday, November 26, 2017, at the iconic First Avenue Mainroom in Minneapolis, MN, just two weeks after his death. The concert featured a special performance from Head Charge, with current and former members; Cameron Heacock, Justin Fowler, Karma Cheema, Aaron Zilch, Benji Helberg, and Dane Tuders playing with the band. Chad's bass tech Jordan Swanson, played bass along with special appearances from his longtime friends Greg Chilton, Jake "Tox" Crooks, and Vince Ebertz all performing vocals on select songs. The show also saw sets from Blue Felix, Black Flood Diesel, The Omega Sequence, Outside The Murder, Strate Jak It, and DJ Aaron Zilch, all of which were hand picked to play by Hanks himself before his passing. A special tribute performance from Chad's former School of Rock students playing two of his favorite songs, "Land of Sunshine" by Faith No More, and "Strutter" by Kiss also took place.

Honors and awards[edit | edit source]

Star honoring American Head Charge on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue

American Head Charge has been honored with a star on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue, recognizing performers that have played sold-out shows or have otherwise demonstrated a major contribution to the culture at the iconic venue. Receiving a star "might be the most prestigious public honor an artist can receive in Minneapolis," according to journalist Steve Marsh.

Band members[edit | edit source]

  • Cameron Heacock – vocals (1997–2009, 2011–present)
  • Justin Fowler – keyboards, samples, backing vocals (2000–2009, 2011–present)
  • Karma Singh Cheema – guitar (2004–2005, 2007–2009, 2011–present)
  • Benji Helberg – guitar (2005–2009, 2017–present)
  • Jeremiah "Major Trauma" Stratton – drums (2020-present)
  • Chad Hanks (Banks) – bass (1997–2009, 2011–2017; his death)
  • Jamie White – keyboards, backing vocals (1997)
  • Peter Harmon – drums (1997–2000)
  • Wayne Kile – guitar (1999–2002)
  • Aaron Zilch – samples, electronics (1999-2003, 2015, 2017)
  • Dave Rogers – guitar (1997–2003)
  • Bryan Ottoson – guitar (2002-2005; his death)
  • Dane Tuders – drums (2006–2009, 2017)
  • Sin Quirin – guitar (2011–2012)
  • Ted Hallows – guitar (2013–2016)
  • Chris Emery – drums (2000–2006, 2011–2016), keyboards, samples (1997–2000)
Live musicians
  • Nick Quijano – guitar (2006)
  • Anthony Burke – guitar (2006, 2012)
  • Krister Pihl - guitar (2012)
  • Jeremiah "Major Trauma" Stratton – drums (2017)
  • Michael Dwyer - bass (2017)
  • Jordan Swanson - bass (2017)

Timeline[edit | edit source]

Discography[edit | edit source]

Studio albums[edit | edit source]

List of albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales



  • Released: July 18, 1999
  • Label: Independent
  • Formats: CS, CD, DL
The War of Art 118 1 81 90 11
  • World: 250,000
The Feeding 11 15 115 7
Tango Umbrella
  • Released: March 25, 2016
  • Label: Napalm
  • Formats: CD, DL
8 30 43 16

EPs[edit | edit source]

Title Album details
  • Released: July 23, 2013
  • Label: Dead Sound
  • Formats: CD, DL

DVD[edit | edit source]

List of albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions


"Just So You Know" 2002 44 52 3 The War of Art
"All Wrapped Up"
"Loyalty" 2005 The Feeding
"Sugars of Someday" 2012 Shoot EP
"Drowning Under Everything" 2017 Tango Umbrella
"—" denotes the release did not chart.

Music videos[edit | edit source]

Song Director Album Label Additional Information
"Just So You Know" Kevin Kerslake The War of Art American Recordings American Head Charge's first official music video.
"All Wrapped Up" Thomas Mignone Banned due to visceral images within video.
"Loyalty" Mike Sloat The Feeding DRT Entertainment/Nitrus First official music video release taken from The Feeding.
"Cowards" First unofficial music video release taken from The Feeding. Features UFC fighter Chuck Liddell.
"Perfectionist" Tango Umbrella Napalm Records First official lyric music video release taken from Tango Umbrella.
"Let All the World Believe" Bobby Czzowitz First official music video release taken from Tango Umbrella.
"Drowning Under Everything" Paul von Stoetzel Second official music video release taken from Tango Umbrella.

Compilation appearances[edit | edit source]

Date of Release Title Album Label Additional Information
January 25, 2000 "Filth Pig" Devilswork: A Tribute to Ministry Dwell Records Ministry cover
June 6, 2000 "Irresponsible Hate Anthem" Anthems of Rust and Decay: A Tribute to Marilyn Manson Dwell Records Marilyn Manson cover
August 25, 2001 "Reach and Touch" (Live) Ozzfest 2001: The Second Millennium Sony Records
March 26, 2002 "Seamless" (Live) Pledge of Allegiance Tour: Live Concert Recording Columbia Records
August 24, 2004 "Cowards" UFC: Ultimate Beatdowns, Vol. 1 DRT Entertainment First taste of The Feeding. Different from the album version mix.

References[edit | edit source]