Jeff, thanks for talking with us today about The Heavy Pets and the Catskill Chill Music Festival.
Q1: Where did the name the Heavy Pets originate from and how does it connect to you guys as a band?
It came from a long night and a hallucination involving a talking Jello mold. It’s hard to say, but I am pretty sure the name is a sexual innuendo, and not necessarily about overweight domesticated animals. That would be corny.
Q2: How would you describe your music?
We are a songwriting collective. Each of us writes tunes, so we all have the ability to bring a tune to the band and hear it the way we intended before each member begins adding their personal embellishments. Then we collaborate to make it sound as bad as possible. I will have a drum part in mind – and then Jamie will take it and make it amazing. I want Mike to blast off with a solo, and he puts it out into orbit. We are very lucky to have each other and not a day goes by that we don’t know it.
Q3: Who are some of the influences behind your music?
We all have very disparate influences. Mike and I grew up listening to Rock and Roll, Jamie and Jim grew up listening to Jazz, while Tony is also a DJ and brings in an encyclopedic knowledge of electronic music. The long drives between gigs become very educational and allow us the opportunity to further share our influences with each other.
Q4: What are you looking forward to most about the Catskill Chill festival?
So many things, but mostly seeing and hanging out with other bands. It is also very near where I grew up so I expect some family to make it out as well. Further, we are practically closing out the fest on the main stage and we have some tricks up our sleeves. It’s a great opportunity and we know it.
Q5: Your latest album, Swim Out Past the Sun” was more of a return to your acoustic rooted sound. Do you anticipate to continue down that path in the future, or will you return to a more electric sound?
Well the album was just that – an album. We never really left our electric act behind, in fact I can count on one hand how many times we have actually performed those tunes with the acoustic guitars. It was more of our version of a concept album. As for future recordings, I expect to use our electric and acoustic axes wherever they are necessary.
Q6: In recent years, you’ve played Jam Cruise, Bonnaroo, High Sierra, Gathering of the Vibes, moe.down, Summercamp, All Good, Wakers, Bear Creak, Mountain Jam, and many other festivals. How have these festival experiences impacted you as a band?
In innumerable positive ways. We get better as a band by seeing so many great acts. We also get to meet some of our favorite musicians as peers, and make life-long friends and possible future collaborators. Fests also allow us the opportunity to connect with out fans on a totally different level – another great way to make new friends and to get a fresh perspective on how what we do is seen/heard. Oh, then there’s the Jerry Rolls…
Q7: Are there any plans to release another album in the near future?
Yep – we are tracking a self produced record right now. Very exciting. Raw, dirty, rock and roll – way more akin to what we do live than our last two records.
Q8: What do you enjoy most about playing music?
The rush is incredible. To look out and see good people having a good time, knowing that that song started out on a beach with a bottle of wine and a guitar, made its way to our rehearsal space, was practiced endlessly, was changed, re-arranged, then reworked again, played ok, played better, and finally gotten to where we want it and now Boom! This happening… It’s a great feeling.
Q9: What other bands are you looking forward to seeing at this year’s Catskill Chill?
Well, there are a bunch of bands that we are going to miss and that is always a bummer – a casualty of touring as much as we do. Actually, the schedule hasn’t been released yet so I have to stay mum about who I am excited to have the opportunity to see.
Q10: We were lucky enough to catch you guys live at Pearl Street in Northampton, MA this past April with Dopapod. You guys absolutely killed it! What a show! Are there plans to consider touring with Dopapod again in the future? How did the two of you link up?
Those guys are just incredible and I am proud to call them friends. Great players – great people. I am not sure how we linked up at first, but we have done several shows together and would love to do more. No plans currently in the works, but you may be on to something…
Q11: Looking back on your musical career, is there anything you would have done differently?
I would have realized at age 10 that I was never really going to play for the NY Giants and taken piano lessons from my mom. Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing. The failures are as important, if not more, than the successes in this business. I am very lucky to be playing music after all this time with my best friends and I make sure to take advantage of that every day.
Jeff, thanks again for taking some time to discuss The Heavy Pets and the Catskill Chill Music Festival with us today. We’re very excited to see you guys perform at this year’s Catskill Chill (Sept 7-9th) in Hancock, NY. Fans, visit www.catskillchill.com for tickets and more information.