Head Automatica's Midas Touch Won't Shatter Glassjaw

Frontman Daryl Palumbo promises new material from both bands, golden video in the coming months.

Daryl Palumbo has his good days, and then he has his bad days. For most of the Head Automatica frontman's life, this is just the way it's been; Palumbo suffers from Crohn's disease, a debilitating condition that creates intestinal inflammation. Last week, when Palumbo spoke to MTV News from Washington, D.C., where his disco-infused rock hybrid was scheduled to perform later that evening at Nation, he was having a good day.

"I feel good," he explained, after revealing he'd had a third Crohn's-related surgery back in December following a relapse of the disease. He's seemed to be in remission ever since, thanks to some experimental treatment. "I try to live day to day and keep my headspace positive. Lately I've been really happy, because the longer I'm on the road, the happier I seem to be."

That was before this week, when he suffered a mild relapse which subsequently forced the cancellation of seven of the band's upcoming shows with I Am the Avalanche and the Start — Tuesday night's gig in Denver through a July 28 set in Los Angeles. In the past, Palumbo's Crohn's has sidelined many tours and projects; he's currently being treated at an undisclosed hospital.

He did, however, reveal plans to release a second album's worth of Head Automatica material in early 2006, as well as a fresh offering from his other band, Strong Island hardcore heroes Glassjaw.

"[Glassjaw] hasn't really been alive for the past two years, I guess," he said of the band, which will play 16 shows with the Used starting on August 13 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, through September 4 in Wilmington, Delaware. "We haven't played since 2003, but it's a good time to do it. It's a few shows, and it's something that [guitarist Justin] Beck and I have wanted to do for a little bit."

Palumbo said while guitarist Todd Weinstock's left the band to form his newest project, called Men, Women and Children, and drummer Larry Gorman's no longer part of the band (he's a full-time Head Automatica member), bassist Manuel Carrero's back on board, as is original Glassjaw drummer Durijah Lang. But for more than a year, ever since news of Palumbo and Dan "the Automator" Nakamura collaborating for Head Automatica first surfaced (see "Dan 'The Automator' Readies 2004 Triple Assault"), Glassjaw's status has been something of a question mark — and for several months, the band was believed to be finished.

"We were ... playing a lot of heavy music every day for a very long time, and the stress of being on tour puts your band through a lot of things, whether it's fights or disagreements or just, I mean, sometimes you just grow up," he explained. "Your personalities pan out to be different as well. Glassjaw started out so f---ing long ago. Most bands don't last a decade; Glassjaw started exploding after being a band for 10 years. There were personality differences and being on tour for years with no breaks, it brings out ... tense situations. After touring for so long I wanted a break, and I was writing tons of music — stuff I knew wasn't particularly suited for Glassjaw."

But that hasn't stopped Palumbo and Beck from writing new Glassjaw material. The singer said they've penned three new compositions, only one of which has been named: "Natural Born Farmer." But as far as when a new Glassjaw album could hit stores, he couldn't say. "At some point, I don't know when," he said. "I have no idea. Glassjaw, that was the sort of band that, if sh-- just kind of happened, it happened. Whenever the time presents itself, it will happen. And it will happen. I just don't know when."

These days, Palumbo's living in Head Automatica-ville, and his thoughts revolve around what's happening with this band, which is rounded out by keyboardist Jessie Nelson, bassist Jarvis Morgan Holden and guitarist Craig Bonich.

"My whole life is this band right now," he said, adding that, with 40 songs written, there could be a new record out soon after 2005 runs out. "The new sh-- is special, I promise. There are some points that I think [are] just breathtaking." He promises power pop with electronica elements.

The band was also in New York last month to shoot a video with Jon Watts (Fatboy Slim, the Thrills) for "Beating Heart Baby," the latest single from 2004's Decadence (see "Glassjaw Singer No Longer Hopping Mad — Just Hopping").

In it, the band's shown playing the track on a stage, donning ostentatious attire in front of a wall of flashing colored lights and before a crowd of pogo-prone fans. A female rushes the stage, and when she touches Palumbo, she disappears into a puff of white smoke. In almost a King Midas-like reversal, the viewer sees she's been transformed into a gold statue when the smoke clears. Other women follow her lead with similar results.

"It came out really great," Palumbo remarked. "It looks cute and has a lot of bright lights."

Beyond his own two bands, Palumbo's also making several appearances on other albums; he sings on "Chomping at the Bit" from Every Time I Die's Gutter Phenomenon and appears on This Is Hell's cover of 108's "When Death Closes Your Eyes." He's also working with Thursday's Geoff Rickly, Chree from the Number 12 Looks Like You and Kiss It Goodbye's Eric Cooper on a project they're calling United Nations.

He said it's a blast-beat-riddled grindcore band. "I'm supposed to be handed what has been done, up to all of my parts," he said. "Then I'll be doing my guitar parts on top of that. I'm very into it. It's definitely going to see the light of day, and it's going to be f---ing great. When we were in New York for the 'Beating Heart Baby' video, we played a show the following night, and Geoff was hanging out. I bullsh--ted with him a lot about it. Those two days were crucial to the whole vision of what this project will be."