Longheads’ Alex Bishop on the persuasive power of Marshall amps and why he bought the filthiest guitar he’d ever seen

Alex Bishop
(Image credit: Press)

Moving to London is often a tricky manoeuvre for young British bands, and for Norfolk-native garage-psych group Longheads, their accommodation setup was too good to last. 

As lead guitarist Alex Bishop tells Total Guitar: “It was just over the road from the Oval cricket ground, and it was a guardianship scheme that the rest of the band all lived in where we built our studio and practised. But it got bought by the Oval and they knocked it down!” 

Collateral damage aside, it’s an exciting time for the newly London-based five-piece, who released their latest EP Mars Doesn’t Feel Like Home Any More this month. Though its five songs touch upon the sound of the late 2010s psychedelic garage rock revival – the likes of King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, Oh Sees and Ty Segall are mentioned as influences – Alex takes inspiration from more than just his contemporaries. 

“I started playing guitar when I was 11”, he says. “I learnt at school and it was purely because of Back In Black – that riff. I’m a guitar teacher as well, and I still have to teach AC/DC licks to young kids! My influences usually cover the spectrum of rock. I do try to listen to everything, but it’s hard to draw influences from outside that world when you pick up a guitar and plug it into a Marshall...”  

There’s undeniably an enticing aura to early-’70s hard rock for guitarists, and that era’s penchant for heavy riffs and long-form solos are front and centre on Longheads’ new release. But channeling the spirit of that sound requires an instrument that’s more than a little rough around the edges, surely?

“I have a Gibson SG Firebrand from 1980,” Alex says, “which I picked up from a guy in 2020 that had sat under his bed for 20 years. On the Reverb.com listing it said it comes with all original parts, including strings! It was the most filthy guitar I’ve ever seen, but I’ve done it up, and it’s pretty much all I use.”

I teach a lot of children, and my advice to them is always to just keep going

Alex’s pedals of choice for said sonic dirge check out, too. “I was using a vintage Sola Sound wah into the EarthQuaker Devices Sunn O))) Life V2, which is my main drive and fuzz pedal, and then a Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail delay, which is the only delay I’ve used since I bought it when I was 15. And then the MXR Phase 90 Script, the EarthQuaker Afterneath reverb and a Line 6 DL4 for the effect delay.” 

The future looks bright for Longheads, whose equal love of King Gizz and Sleep will certainly tick boxes for plenty of Sabbath-worshipping riff merchants. But as a guitar teacher himself, what advice does Alex have for newer players? 

“I teach a lot of children, and my advice to them is always to just keep going. Most people don’t keep on playing guitar, so my job is just to keep people turning up and being engaged. A lot of people can get bored. I mainly just try to get people to enjoy playing.”

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Stan Bull

Stan is a Production Editor and writer for Total Guitar, a publication that he has been reading since the age of 10, which is partly responsible for his enduring love of the instrument. He also works for Computer Music and Future Music magazines, and has written for a number of Bristol-based blogs and zines since graduating from the University of South Wales in 2015. Stan is an alternative music enthusiast and has played in a number of indie bands, though he dreams of one day having a picking hand fast enough to form a death metal group. Wish him luck.