Undying Heads are Frank Ryder, Sam Wilkinson and part-time member Kev Saunders, they play an eclectic mix of original music as well as the occasional cover. Their music takes influences from many sources and is impossible to pin down to one genre.
Frank, Sam and Kev met in January 2018 and Undying Heads was born from the travelling and busking scene in Lagos, Portugal. Frank is a prolific songwriter and singer who plays guitar and mandola. Originally Sam was behind the scenes as manager while Kev Saunders was the other permanent member playing double bass, harmonica and cajon. Kev decided not to carry on into 2019 and so Sam took over on stage playing bodhran and singing. In 2020 the three have played together and hope to continue as a trio for some gigs after the pandemic!
Their album ‘Can’t Be Late’ recorded in 2019 is available now on their website and Bandcamp as a digital download and hard copy CD. Their EP ‘Live at the Horsedrawn’ recorded in 2018 is also available along with the last few 2018 ‘Undying Heads’ T-shirts. Their very popular, although some would say obscene, ‘Anti-Social, Social Media’ T-shirts will soon be back on sale.
Since they got together Undying Heads have played many venues across Portugal including the huge Freekuency festival and Total Resistance festival. In 2018 they toured the UK and Ireland playing at The Magic Garden in Battersea, Landed festival in Wales, Left Bank Village in Hereford and the Horsedrawn festival as well as plenty of other venues. In 2019 the played lots of venues along the Algarve and west coast of Portugal. They also got involved in hosting open mic nights, helping and encouraging musicians with little experience of playing live.
Frank, Sam and Kev all live in vans, they travel a lot of the time for gigs and busking as well as for the love of travelling. Living on the road is their way of life and making music is their life! They love to get people smiling, dancing and enjoying themselves. They especially like it when people take notice of their lyrics. They are based in Ireland, the UK and Portugal respectively but as they live a travelling life they link up regularly on the road. They visit other countries on their travels and are always keen to travel to new places for gigs. Sometimes guest artists join them for occasional songs, recordings or whole gigs.
Frank and Sam recorded their 2019 ‘Can’t be Late’ album themselves in their van using one track recording so what you hear on the album is exactly what you get at a gig! The recording was all made using solar power and all the CDs were made on their own laptop and printer. They are strong believers in a DIY ethic and feel that to make their own material is the best way until they can afford professionals!
All three have different influences and come from different backgrounds but clicked instantly when they met on a personal and musical level.
More about Undying Heads...
Songwriter, Vocals, Guitar and Mandola
Frank is a singer songwriter from Dublin, Ireland who plays guitar and mandola. Frank says “I remember being fourteen years old and having a copy of a Lynyrd Skynyrd album, and seeing this gang of long haired’s singing about whiskey, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and life on the road. For me growing up in suburban Dublin that was a glimpse of something outside. It excited me.”
So, how did Frank escape the suffocation of a repressed Irish childhood? He travelled. Much of his youth was spent trekking around Europe, and he has lived for periods in France, Germany, Spain and Portugal. He read too: the anarchist writers and philosophers, the libertarians, anything to do with the Sixties counter-culture.
In the early 1990s Frank (then going by the guise of Frank X. Hibbet) was part of the band Far Canals, based in Galway, Ireland. They released two albums and one EP with Hunter S. Records. The bands anarchic, anti-establishment ethos was reflected in many of their songs which railed against the police, drug laws, organised religion and political corruption. Influenced by punk and blues, the Far Canals combined unusual guitar arrangements and distortion pedals to produce a highly distinctive sound. The group disbanded in 1996.
Frank also played many gigs as a solo act, he was the support artist for Julian Cope on his ‘An audience with the Cope tour’ of Irish Castles in 1993. Frank has also been a live sound engineer and he worked for a number of artists playing in the Galway area.
In 2000 Frank moved to Barcelona for five years and then onto Portugal where you bought a small piece of land in the mountains. He took a break from playing live music to become a DJ, where he played at many parties and festivals in Spain and Portugal. After meeting two guitarists in Portugal he picked up his guitar again and started The Rocking Horse of Oisin which still play occasional gigs at festivals and venues in Portugal.
In October 2017 the area in Portugal where Frank has his land was devastated by wild fires. Frank lost all his music equipment, including his favourite guitar as well as amps and microphones used for gigs. He also lost his Sprinter campervan and his Mercedes bus that were full of other personal possessions from clothes and photographs to body boards and wetsuits.
Frank took this as a sign to move on and moved back onto the road. Primarily based in Ireland he still visits Portugal as well as many other countries regularly. Once back on the road he started writing and playing more live music again. He feels that there is not many people writing from the perspective of a fifty something male and wanted his take on the world to be in his song writing. He is now more determined than ever to be playing and writing as much as possible.
Vocals, Bodhran and Mandola
Sam is a singer, percussionist and mandola player from Cirencester, UK who plays bodhran. Sam started singing at age sixteen in the late eighties thanks to a youth club initiative to get teenagers into playing music. She was in a new wave band called Enzone who practiced a lot but only played a couple of gigs!
Sam remembers the first song she heard that made her really take notice of music, Soft Cell’s Tainted Love. Despite that she was always mostly disillusioned with ‘chart’ music feeling it didn’t reflect her life or say anything to her. During the eighties she found Paul Weller and Billy Bragg who she connected with much more and she also got turned on to Psychobilly music, a fusion of Punk and Rockabilly.
During the nineties rave music and the travelling scene had a big impact on Sam although she wasn’t making or playing music herself. Between juggling being a single mum to her son, Lee and working full-time she found little time to perform professionally although she did take up the guitar and sang a lot at home.
In 2004 Sam joined a new punk/dub band called Drug Sniffin Dogs for a while. Sam practiced with them for a six month period but left before actually gigging with them. They are still going now despite the sad death of founder member and good friend Hayden Daniels.
Later in 2005 she went on to sing in the Gloucester Community Folk Choir which was a great lesson in singing technique as well as a brilliant way to learn some obscure folk songs from around the world.
In 2010 after her son moved out and went away to university to study music, Sam moved permanently into her campervan and travelled extensively in the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Spain and Portugal as well as a trip to Morocco where she ended up in lockdown in 2020 for five months.
After meeting Frank she was inspired to take up singing again as well as learning the bodhran and other percussion. In the 2020 lockdown she took up the guitar again and learnt the mandola, something she shares in common with Bill Bailey! She now plays mandola on some of the newer Undying Heads tracks.
Songwriter, Vocals, Double Bass, Harmonica and Cajon
Kev is a musician from a village just outside Norwich, UK. Kev bought a double bass at 17 years old after becoming interested in Rockabilly and Psychobilly music. His double bass is older than him, made in the 1930’s in what was then Czechoslovakia.
In his early 20s Kev moved to Atlanta, Georgia in the USA when he joined a blues band, Brother to Brother, playing Harmonica. It was there he discovered his love of blues, country and jazz music.
On returning from Atlanta Kev settled down to married life, raising his two children and building work. He moved his young family to Spain where he carried on building, hardly ever picking up an instrument.
After the breakdown of his marriage Kev moved to Portugal and started playing music again. He dusted off his bass and played with some friends much older than him, he was in fact the youngest in the band that comprised also of a banjo, fiddle and guitar players. The band had no name but they played around the Alvaiazere area in cafes and bars.
Realising that he would struggle to buy his own home again and loving the idea of being out on the road Kev bought a van and converted it to a camper to live in. In 2015 he and two friends started a band called Next Port of Call, a country blues busking band that also played quite a few gigs over the couple of years they were together.
After the band broke up in 2017 he briefly met Frank through mutual friends and they made a loose plan to perhaps meet up in the Algarve that winter. Luckily they did and the rest, as they say, is history!
Guest artists include:
Guitar and Cajon
Vocals and Guitar
Thanks for your interest and we hope you enjoy our music. Please contact us via email or telephone for all enquires, our contact details are at the bottom of this page.
Thank you to Olaf Tyaransen for some of the information on Frank and Far Canals.