Sunday, May 23, 2010


So many good acts have been coming out of the UK the past few years, that it is almost hard to keep track of all of them. However, leave it up to the big British sound to always find a way to make you notice each individual act. Take for instance The Heavy, a big sounding band from the small town of Noid, England. Now, the name of this band may not strike you with recognition right away, their songs, sound and style will be instantly recognized. Their song "How Do You Like Me Now?" was featured in the KIA car commercial during the Super Bowl and has not stopped airing on TV since. The sound of the band can be measured up by James Brown fronting The Specials with a dash of Parliament Funkadelic thrown in. Their style is rude boy and mod and a nice throwback to the British punk and ska scene of the late 70's and 80's. The Heavy are a fresh band that has audiences around the world going crazy, even David Letterman is a huge fan! When The Heavy performed on Late Night, Letterman sprung from his seat and demanded an encore, now we all know Letterman's dry humor, so if he shows major emotion in anything, you know its a big deal. Their latest release The House that Dirt Built, received critical praise in UK and Europe and has led to the band building a strong reputation here in America. I had the chance to speak with The Heavy's front man Kelvin Swaby as we discussed the bands roots, influences, that time on Letterman and their obsession with Jim Jarmush fims. Take a look at my interview with Swaby below.

The band’s style is so fresh and unique it is part funk, part soul, part ska, part rock. Who influences you from each of these genres?

The Parliaments, Willie Mitchell and his Hi Records clan, The Specials, Toots, Can, Sabbath, Chester Burnett........ I could go on.

By blending so many styles together do you feel you are creating something new or just hoping to see what sticks?

We get bored of playing one thing. The way the albums are set out is like the way we would make a mixtape for our girlfriends. A little bit of this, a sprinkling of that and then..... hopefully we get her into bed.

England has had a special love for bands with horns – The Specials, Madness, The Beat, even the Clash incorporated horns later on in their career. Do you believe by adding to this legacy if you will, we will see more bands using brass in their music?

Willie Mitchell's use of horns throughout his Hi Records catalogue is where I draw most inspiration from. The weight, the riffs, the boldness is all too much sometimes and incorporating some of these elements in what we do, just makes our melodies stronger I feel.

Being from a small British town, was a major factor when starting this band getting out of there and playing around the globe?

We've said before that our town has been nicknamed "The Graveyard of all Ambition" and sometimes it felt as if we were walking with the living dead. On the flip of that, it's been excellent for us to get our heads down and hone our craft. Burning venues down from town to town as we go now.

“The House That Dirt Built” was released last year and you have been gaining acclaim since its arrival around the globe. How do you respond to such praise

We make what we make, with no compromise so it's a great feeling to know that what we do is now being well received.

“How Do You Like Me Now?” is a massive global success and is everywhere these days. Did you think it would be such a massive hit when recording it?

Dan and I knew it had fire in the belly when we demoed the track a couple of years ago. It was when we were recording it for the album as to when we started to stoke the thing and it came out of the stalls like a crazed bronco. In other words, as it should of done.

Because the song is so massive, are you afraid of being a one hit wonder? Or are you fine with that?

There's plenty more where that creature came from, so no worry at the moment. As I said before, we make what we make.

Lets discuss Letterman, what was it like performing on the stage that night and have old Dave ask for an encore? Mind you, you are the first band in the history of his late night career he has ever asked to do an encore on the spot!

We had rehearsed the song in the morning with the Dap Kings horns and it was sounding so ridiculous that you could only feel completely at ease. Just before the performance I said to Dan "We just play it like we always play it" and the rest is......... well, you know.

After the Letterman performance you became one of the most talked about bands in America. Do you feel that breaking big in America is a major goal for you?

We always thought that the U.S would be a great territory for us and am just glad that we're being as well received as everybody's saying. It's a huge goal for us but we can't rest on our laurels as there's plenty more dirt to be gathered and administered.

After tour wraps up this summer for The Heavy, what are you guys up to next?

Before work on the next record commences, I'd like to spend time with my children, partner, family and friends as the year will have been so busy. I'm sure it'll change but for now, it's a great thought.

BURNING QUESTION: It has been said that the band has bonded over Jim Jarmusch films, what is your favorite Jarmusch film and why?

Down by Law is my favorite Jim Jarmusch film. Cut in grainy black and white and with incredible, comic performances from Tom Waits, John Lurie and Roberto Benigni, this film gets watched a few times a year. If only to see the "I scream" scene. Hilarious and highly recommended!

The now infamous Letterman performance of "How Do You Like Me Now?" (Above) / Video for "Sixteen" (Below)

Special thanks to Swaby and Jonny Kaps for the interview!