The Heavy are the music industry’s worst kept secret. They make blazing, urgent, infectious rock-soul with a strong dose of hip-hop. You’ve heard their songs in a lot of different places, and it’s likely that you loved them.
Forming in the fertile swamps of England’s West Country in the mid-naughties, around the axis of Dan Taylor (guitarist and songwriter) and Kelvin Swaby (vocalist and songwriter,) the Heavy immediately astounded. Jaw dropping, freshly minted riffs, swinging hip-hop drums, funk-ridden bass and Swaby’s startling, Mayfield-esque vocals meant early singles ‘That Kind of Man’ and ‘Colleen’ blew minds and won hearts. The debut album they were taken from – ‘Great Vengeance and Furious Fire’ – became an instant connoisseurs’ classic.
It was their sophomore album, though, that saw them blasting into homes across the globe. ‘The House that Dirt Built’ was everything a second album should be: a deeper, richer progression from the band’s early work. It also yielded the mighty ‘How You Like Me Now?’ The single was licensed for a major commercial in the 3rd Quarter of the Superbowl (the biggest ad slot in the world) and quite simply went stratospheric.
A heady mix of impassioned, incandescent vocal, gargantuan riff and boom-bap drums, it also happened to conjure up a triumph-in-adversity sentiment that struck a chord across the globe. The song went on to become the first for which David Letterman ever requested an encore, when The Heavy played the “Late Show,” and appeared everywhere from “Entourage,” Academy Award-nominated film The Fighter, and Mark Wahlberg’s hit comedy ‘Ted.’
“It became such a big tune, that people asked, ‘How are you going to top that?’.” Swaby says.
The answer was 2012’s ‘The Glorious Dead,’ the band’s third album. Searching for inspiration, The Heavy – which in addition to Taylor and Swaby includes Spencer Page (bass) and Chris Ellul (drums) – travelled from their Bath, England hometown to Columbus, Georgia. There, they hooked up with local gospel singers and musicians for some Southern Gothic sublimity.
The final magic ingredient in the mix was Gabriel “Bosco Mann” Roth of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, who added string and horn parts to four songs.
Even deeper, a touch darker, and with shades of Southern Gothic infesting the swampy rock n’ soul of previous records, the album was another giant step forward, Frankensteining swampy voodoo and b-movie zombies with garage rock and Gospel-soaked soul.
Lead single ‘What Makes a Good Man?’ showed that The Heavy were able to write brilliant singles time after time, with synchs snowing in once again, and American radio coming on board. The band toured the world exhaustively, wowing audiences with their transcendental live performances.
“It was over the top, in a good way,” adds Heavy frontman Kelvin Swaby. “We went pretty cinematic, setting out to score a film that hasn’t been written.”
“It’s good to have a bit of light and shade,” Taylor adds.
Since then, The Heavy has gone on to achieve storming success in Japan, playing Fuji Rock, chalking up a #1 alternative album on iTunes Japan, scoring a major Pepsi synch and playing Japan’s biggest breakfast TV show, ‘Sukkiri.’
Their music was used in the stunning Guiness Sapeurs ad, they played Glastonbury, sold out Shepherd’s Bush Empire and re-recorded How You Like Me Now? with none other than 50 Cent, to launch ESPN’s coverage of the NFL Draft Week.
To top it all, How You Like Me Now? reached Gold status in the United States – a stunning achievement for an English, independent artist. How to top all that, you might ask? Well, there’s a new album on the way, and The Heavy just happen to have a habit of exceeding themselves…
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The Heavy Will Return April 1 With ‘Hurt & The Merciless’, Their Self-Produced Fourth Album And The Most Personal To Date
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