It isn't the dumbest question I've ever asked but nevertheless Booga Beazley is laughing loudly down the phone at me.

"Would I listen to it?" he repeats incredulously. "The full album? I only listened to the full album all the way through when I got it on vinyl."

We're talking about 13, the spirited alt-metal debut album from his band, Head Like a Hole. The album came out 25 years ago, cracked the New Zealand Top 20 and spawned Fish Across Face, one of the noisiest, bizarre singles to ever make it into the Top 10 and one of the few NZ On Air-funded music videos to be banned from network television.

To mark 13's anniversary, the band had the album remastered and, for the first time, pressed on vinyl. Previously it was only available on CD or cassette.


"I've never owned one on CD up until the last couple of weeks either," Beazley cheerily concedes.

Not having a copy of your debut record seems a fairly big thing.

"It's very hard for me to listen to," he says. "There's one or two tracks that [make me] cringe. I don't think I can sing. I sound a little bit immature, a little bit inexperienced. I'm just so green you can hear it.

"But for the people that dig it, the fans, for them it's about the whole feeling of the record, not just my vocals but the whole thing."

He's not wrong. The record's a rollicking and noisy blast of juvenile in-your-face rock-metal. The album's vibe best summed up by the song title Life's a Joke,
13 was the antithesis to the dour seriousness of so much 90s rock.

With its kids-television samples (novel at the time), death metal growls, guitar genre mashing, and credos of narcotics, noise and nakedness (band members routinely played naked on stage) 13 could - nay should - have aged terribly.

It hasn't. It's head-nodding vim and irreverent outlook as infectious now as it was way back when. It flipping rocks, I say, with the power of the remaster really grabbing you.

"Really?" Beazley asks, "Where'd it grab you?"

He laughs and continues, "That's good. That's what we wanted. It needed to be better than the CD."

To support the vinyl reissue - which, it has to be said, is a thing of beauty, with its blood-red wax and deluxe packaging - the band is hitting the road, playing the album live in its entirety for the first time - including those songs that cause him to cringe...

"Penut's one of those ones I said I'd never play live because, dude, I was such a dick back then."

Beazley then recounts the graphic and horrific origin of the song's cryptic "Got a peanut in my eye" chorus.

"It's about shitting everywhere. I drank too much beer and shat all over Nigel's [Regan, HLAH's guitarist] mother's bathroom floor and toilet and walls. I woke up and there was shit everywhere. I didn't know what had happened. I was paralytic. That's what Penut is. So I said I'd never play that song. But it's sounding wicked. I really dig it."

13, the album, ends with the song 12. A nightmarish romp through Sesame Street's most beloved songs complete with a funk breakdown ("Big Bird's in the house!") and the death metal rumble of former drummer Hidee Beast growling "One of these things is not like the other".

Archive live photo of Head Like a Hole performing songs from their debut record 13
Archive live photo of Head Like a Hole performing songs from their debut record 13

With Hidee long departed how's Beazley 's growl coming along?

"Ohhh that's hard," he admits. "I can't really do it myself. I've been trying to do those bits but I'm thinking there must be someone in the crowd who would like to sing 12. If anyone's up for it they're more than welcome to get up on stage and go for it."

Did Kermit ever come after them for sampling Sesame Street's theme tune?

"Nup," Beazley says. "Not even Fozzie mate."

Who: Head Like a Hole
What: NZ tour
When: Begins today, the band plays Auckland next Thursday.