Bath quartet The Heavy recently released Hurt and The Merciless, their self-produced fourth album and their most powerful and personal release to date. Whilst making the album, the band which includes Kelvin Swaby, Dan Taylor, Spencer Page and Chris Ellul went some pretty dark times including death, divorce, near break-ups and breakdowns. Andy Howells recently put questions to Chris about the album and the bands current tour.
How did you come together?
The band was started by Dan and Kelvin, who made the first record and signed to Counter Records in 2007. Spencer had been playing with them for a few years by the time they signed that deal. The signing meant they needed to tour and make more of the live show and that was when I joined the band. 9 years later we're still here!
How would you describe your style of music?
Our music is a melting pot of our different influences. But I guess that comes out sounding like Soul/Rock n Roll. But it's not traditional, we try and make it larger than life and adopt modern recording technology in to what we do to create something less generic sounding.
What’s your best live experience?
As a punter? Probably seeing Primal Scream around the time they released Vanishing Point or Exterminator. At that time I was massively into what they were doing, blending Indie and Dance, and doing it well. But the experience was more than just listening to the music. It was the first gig I'd been to that was a more involved production. And I guess that was an eye opener for me, how the sound, visuals and lights affected what I felt.
Can you tell us about your current release?
'Hurt and The Merciless' is a development in our sound. It's the first time we've sat in a room and worked out everything before going anywhere near making any recordings or demos. We wanted to make a bolder and bigger sounding album than before. In the past Dan or Kelve would demo their ideas, and inevitably that demo recording would be what we built upon. This time everything was from the ground up, which I think gives this record more dynamics and edge. The songs are stronger. It's my favourite record of ours.
Who are your music inspirations?
Whilst we share many of the same influences, there are some that are more prevalent and personal to each of us. I'm listening to a lot of Jonathan Richmond, Leonard Cohen and Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers at the moment. But I could never pin my influences down to one or two things. It all depends on my moods and what's happening in my life.
What was the first record you bought?
The first album I bought was The Best Of Chuck Berry on tape cassette, from Woolworths in 1990! Back to back hits. You can't beat it.
Where can we see you live?
The UK dates seem to be selling out fast but you can catch us on a short tour between May 12th-18th. We'll be playing Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, London and Bristol… in that order.
- A version of this Q&A appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment section The Guide on May 13, 2016.