Getting personal with The Heavy


text by Richard Moore

Approaching the Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, one knew the crowd was in for a treat. The Heavy’s live shows are known for the wild energy lead singer, Kelvin Swaby, brings to the stage. Those who had seen the band before were ready to launch into the set with all they had, fists up in the air, and anyone who was new picked up on the contagious vibes. Right after the opening act by Silent Comedy the crowds chanted the band on stage and then again out for an encore. Appropriately enough, the encore song, “How you like me now,” one you may have heard in a handful of movies and a few commercials, ended the evening on the right note.

Earlier that day, Quip Magazine’s Rich Moore had a chance to sit down after soundcheck with The Heavy’s drummer, Chris Ellul, for a brief chat to talk about The Glorious Dead tour, the band’s dynamics, and its early beginnings.

Richard Moore: This tour started on June 10th, how has it been so far?

Chris Ellul: Well we decided so split the tour up into two two-week stints and pretty much every venue has been sold out, so it has been really good.

RM: What was your favorite show on tour so far?

CE: Obviously New York is very good, but we were in Columbus a couple days ago, and that was quite cool because they don’t get a ton of stuff coming through the city. I like those kinds of spots, and I think people get really hungry for certain events.

RM: Tomorrow you will be in Ottawa for the Jazz Festival and then you’re off till Osheaga. Do you have any plans for the break?

CE: During the break we have loads of shows in Europe. Actually, Kelvin lost his voice on the end of our last European tour, so now we have to go back to Hamburg to finish what we started. So were going there, then Luxembourg, then Glastonbury Festival, which is a big deal for us because it is about 20 minutes away from where we live and it’s a huge festival.

RM:  You put a lot of thought into the name of your album. Where did the name The Glorious Dead come from?

CE: Well it didn’t take shape immediately but once we started putting down some of the tracks, we became fairly certain we wanted to follow a line.  So the vibe we wanted was something like the New Orleans funeral marchers, along with the witchcraft and the spookiness of New Orleans. We wanted to make the record have that thread running through it.

RM: How do you guys incorporate new music into your own?

CE: Often our song comes first and we will play around with it and critique some parts, but generally we like to take something that is old and make it into something that is new.

RM: While watching the sound check, I noticed that you all get along very well. Did any of you grow up together?  

CE: Well the band started with Kelvin and Dan. They met each other while working at the Gap! They’ve known each other for about 15 years, and then Spencer, the bass player, is a good friend of mine. We’ve known each other for 10 years. There’s the four of us and then there’s the extra musicians. For example the keyboardist – I’ve known him since he was 10 – he’s a family friend. The horn players played on stuff that we did 10 years ago, so we know them quite well.

RM: Your latest album, The Glorious Dead, has been touted as your best album to date. How has the band grown from the first to the third album?

CE: The first album was mostly Kelvin and Dan. I joined the group just before the second album, and we were able to work together a lot as a band, and I think that showed on the album, but there are things I would have liked to have done differently on that album after a couple years. For the third record, we just tried to better ourselves every time. Recording-wise I think we did, but our goal is to write great songs, so I couldn’t say that any album was better than another. That being said I do think we are getting better at our craft.

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