Sometimes the hunt for new bands is difficult, taking us to unusual places. Other times, bands jump in our faces and slap us with their brilliance. While watching the Super Bowl last week, we loved the snippet of music we heard during a Kia commercial. A quick hunt revealed a band who’d played on Letterman a week earlier, where they blew away everyone. The Heavy is a soul-influenced indie rock band which formed in the village of Noid, England in 2007. The band consists of Kelvin Swaby (vocals), Dan Taylor (guitar), Spencer Page (bass) and Chris Ellul (drums). From our television set to your computer, we introduce you to the next big thing.
TDOA: When you were approached with the opportunity to have you music used in the Kia ad, did you see it as an opportunity to make a bit of money or did you think that people would go on the wild goose chase to find out who made that great song on the commercial?
TH: We heard that the guys at Kia were interested in the song and that the idea for the ad was gonna be fun but were unaware until the very last minute that they had actually used it…… The track’s been hacked about a bit but the ad looks great and is also great for us that people want to find out who we are. We never intended that but are obviously happy that the exposure seems to be working for us.
TDOA: At one time, selling your music to be used in a TV commercial would have led to accusations of “selling out”. In the new millennium, it’s a pretty accepted practice to help bands survive in a tough music business. However, did you have any trepidation in having your music used in a commercial?
TH: If it’s something that we’re not opposed to then, no, there’s no trepidation. It’s another way of people getting to hear your music in this day and age…….
These are not easy times for musicians.
TDOA: While I don’t expect you to tell us what you got paid for the commercial, can you tell us what cool thing you bought with that first royalty check?
TH: We just ordered another ton of dirt, so we could start working on the conservatory for the extension to the house we’d just finished building.
TDOA: Our travels to learn more about The Heavy took us to the amazing performance on the Letterman show. I don’t recall ever seeing Dave ask for an encore? How did you and the band react and did you speak to him afterwards? Give us a sense of what that experience was like, please.
TH: I think when we had rehearsed with the Dap King horns earlier in the day and all of us were feeling pretty confident with the way that it sounded, we just approached the performance as we would with any other gig.
TDOA: We never expected Dave to ask us to do it again but the house band were freaking out as well as the audience, so we just ran with it. It was the first time in Letterman history that the band has been encored, so we were all pretty stoked after…..
TH: Shame we didn’t get to hang out with him after but he did give us an immediate invitation onto the show as soon as we’re back in the US.
TDOA: Lets talk about the music! When we listen to your music, we here so many diverse influences, but we wonder if they truly shaped your music. We here James Brown, Screamin Jay Hawkins and perhaps a little reggae among many other things. Before we embarrass ourselves, are we on the right track or do you see you influences differently?
TH: We’re influenced by so many different forms of music and are of the mindset where we can’t play any one kind for too long, so we blend and mix up styles to create what you hear.
TDOA: Can you give us a bit of history about the formation of the band? How did the four of you meet?
TH: The band was formed by Swaby and Taylor in the mid to late 90′s and was never really a band until Spencer Page joined in 2004. Swaby and Taylor used to hangout writing songs on a broken down acoustic, a Fender Telecaster, a Yamaha SU10 and a four track before Spencer joined but developing a great bank of songs as well as their own style.
The Heavy became self sufficient when they decided to invest in their own little studio, so when Spencer joined, started work on creating the first album, ” Great Vengeance and Furious Fire, between bedrooms, day job shifts and break ups.
Chris Ellul came on board just as the band signed to NinjaTune/ Counter Records and have been on the road ever since. It totally feels like family.
TDOA: Before seeing the live performance on Letterman, I assumed you were using some samples. Is everything on the record performed live or are you using some sampling?
TH: Every thing on the album that sounds like a sample is us or musicians that we’ve recruited to play on the record. We prefer to sample ourselves as lawsuits aren’t fun.
TDOA: Dan, your guitar parts (particularly that bridge on How You Like Me Now…omg!) create a unique sound that is certainly one of the things that makes The Heavy sound so unique. On songs like How You Like Me Now, did your guitar parts form the foundation of the songwriting process or does the band write by “jamming” and creating the songs as a group?
TH: Songs come in a number of ways with this band. There is no one, generic method to writing the murk we write. It’s a matter of soul and knowing what is required for an offering. Whether it starts with a horn break, a crusty beat, a thunderous bassline, a wild ass guitar riff or mashed up, out of tune piano…….
There’s such an understanding with this band and open approach to the songwriting, that we don’t even think about it anymore.
TDOA: For a while, we been discussing the death of the “charismatic front man” in rock. Swaby destroys that theory with a swagger and confidence we haven’t seen since…. is Jagger or James Brown too lofty praise? Can you talk about his persona on and off-stage?
TH: The stage is be prowled upon we think. When you look at some of the most amazing performers from the past, it was all about delivering a show and communicating with the audience. On stage, we definitely run as a pack and off stage, Swaby along with the rest of the wolves, remain calm, quiet, reserved SOB’s.
Definitely some Jekyll and Hyde sh*t going on there…..
TDOA: What’s next for the band? Will you be coming back to America to tour?
TH: The year is looking really busy for us right now. We’ll hopefully be back in The States in the next couple of months and hopefully back into the studio to work on the next record from the end of festival season.
We’re glad that you’ve discovered and hope you continue enjoying our patented brand of dirt…….