Spencer Page, Daniel Taylor, Chris Ellul, and Kelvin Swaby are The Heavy: “Rock Talk” Interview (Caprices Festival Special)

The-Heavy-Interview-Spencer-Page-Daniel-Taylor-Chris-Ellul-Kelvin-Swaby-2013-Caprices-Festival-Rock-Subculture-Rock-Talk-FI

Yesterday I had the opportunity and honor to meet with The Heavy backstage in their dressing room after their soundcheck for their set at Caprices Festival in Crans-Montana, Switzerland to talk to them a little bit and ask some questions about their band and perspective on a variety of topics.  You can also check out my thoughts on their subsequent performance was well as photos over in my Day 7 coverage of this event.Since there was another soundcheck going on in the background as well as construction, I transcribed the video I shot to provide a text-based dialogue from our discussion.

I sat down with Spencer Page, Daniel Taylor, Chris Ellul, and Kelvin Swaby…

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QUESTION:

Can you talk about The Glorious Dead and the collaborative process and how songs come together?

Kelvin Swaby:

The last record came through a number of standard riffs from the previous record, as well as being on tour and you know lots of iPhone footage and just stuff that was lurking around everybody’s computers, you know? Then you get together, and just start working on it, and then go into the studios. We tend to kind of work from home quite a bit, and then start to embellish these ideas.

QUESTION:

And you guys all still live in Bath, right?

Kelvin Swaby:

Yeah.

QUESTION:

And you’re still pretty close to each other? Because I think what kind of came through, watching that “Track By Track” video is that you guys seem like you’re really good, genuine friends, and I think that comes through in the music, and I just wonder how that happened…

Kelvin Swaby:

Well, me and T met, then T met Spence; I then met Spence independently of T, but Spence knew Chrisy and before we knew it, we were like a family, you know?  And when you’re on tour, you become close.

QUESTION:

Well it seems kind of like there are two paths with bands – either people become really good friends, or they have challenges and conflicts and things like that-

Daniel Taylor:

Thus far!

[laughter]

Kelvin Swaby:

Thus far… you never know [smiling]… we could really fuck up.

[laughter]

Kelvin Swaby:

I think we’re good… [smiling]

QUESTION:

What is your take on your live sound versus your studio sound? Do you strive to recreate your studio sound?

Kelvin Swaby:

You do to a certain extent, because there are elements you can’t put in the live set… it has to kind of… what am I trying to say? [turns to Chris]

Chris Ellul:

Yeah, pretty much… [turns to Daniel]

Daniel Taylor:

You can’t replicate what you do in the studio – it’s impossible. Just now, we’ve just done a soundcheck, and I thought it was fucking awful.

QUESTION:

I was coming in as you were playing, and I thought it sounded awesome.

Daniel Taylor:

That’s because you’re in the audience. I have no idea what we sound like, from an audience perspective. But when you’re on there, and you’ve got the guitar amp here [gesturing to his side] and it’s loud, that’s all you’re hearing, and you in an airline hanger [gesturing, how large The Moon space is at Caprices Festival], it’s just like aww…

QUESTION:

So it’s just really weird for you guys on stage?

Daniel Taylor:

It’s just the worst place to play live, for me, I hate it. I hate it.

Chris Ellul:

I think also we… what we do, the way we record things is that it’s very particular; obviously we have a sound and, you know, there’s pretty much no way you can recreate that and have it translate live.

Kelvin Swaby:

But what we try and do live, is make it better than the record.

Daniel Taylor:

It’s in a different way. There’s an energy you don’t get from the record.

QUESTION:

That’s one of my other questions… I have no music talent or ability whatsoever… that’s why I write about it, take photos, do interviews like this… So I always wonder for artists, do you ever have those special moments playing live where you have the tingling down your spine, that adrenaline rush? Or do you not?

Daniel Taylor:

For me it’s working on songs.

QUESTION:

That’s the high?

Daniel Taylor:

That’s it. This [making new songs in the studio] is why I do what I do. This [playing live at the festival]… coming out here – this makes me want to stop doing it.

QUESTION:

Really?

Daniel Taylor:

[Nodding sincerely] Crazy, isn’t it? That’s the irony of it. And the more you do [playing concerts live], the worse it sounds. The bigger the places you play, the worse it sounds.

QUESTION:

Playing larger stadiums and such…

Daniel Taylor:

Yeah, we haven’t gotten to that point yet, but-

Spencer Page:

We’ve played a few, and there are times you do a show and it’s great.

Kelvin Swaby:

We’ve done some incredible gigs.

Daniel Taylor:

Yeah, there are times when you go, ‘that’s fucking brilliant’. One in ten.

Chris Ellul:

I know what he means, and what he means is, in the studio you don’t bother working on a song unless there’s a fucking reason and you love it. So you get that feeling every time you work on a song.

Kelvin Swaby:

You better it.

Daniel Taylor:

On tour it’s the same songs, the same set, night after night, and it’s like you’re in a loop.

Spencer Page:

And in the studio, he might be working on a song, and you don’t know what’s next.

Daniel Taylor:

Sometimes you’re playing live, and you don’t know what’s going to happen next, but other times we’re in kind of a loop [looping gesture].

QUESTION:

That’s interesting, because from the audience perspective, we probably romanticize what it’s like for you performing on stage, when in reality, it’s nothing like what we imagine…

Kelvin Swaby:

The thing is, we’re truly not like a rock and roll band, as to what everyone would kind of assume that we are like. We take great pleasure in what we make in the studio.

Because, when we’re all happy, then we know it’s good.

Having to come out, and take it out [in concert], sometimes it’s not going to be… but then, you’re going to put some people in front of us…

Daniel Taylor:

But the other thing is that cliché of the show being that much [small gesture with pinching fingers] of your day.

Chris Ellul:

I think it’s mostly the situation like Spence says… we’ve been up since about three thirty in the morning, so, you know, Dan’s obviously freaking out right now…

[laughter]

Chris Ellul:

I think it would be a lie for me, personally, to say I didn’t enjoy playing live, but, yeah, it’s true what he says, because of the way we work, we work at home, and our own studio is local, we go to the local studios, local places, and local people…

QUESTION:

You’re still in touch with reality…

Chris Ellul:

Yeah, and we know where we are and what we’re doing, and like I said, we’re not working on songs unless we know they’re good anyway, so you get that feeling every step of the way… you lay down a good drum track, and it’s like ‘fuck yeah!’ You lay down a good guitar track, “fuck, this is fucking brilliant!” Every piece and bit…

Daniel Taylor:

…that piece of the puzzle. When you’re playing live and touring, it becomes…

Spencer Page:

…it becomes forgettable. Like when we drove through today, we were like, “have we been here before?” You’re looking, and-

Kelvin Swaby:

We have!

[laughter]

Spencer Page:

But then we come to these places, and if you didn’t do music you might never have come, but then you can’t remember and then it’s like “oh fuck, I’ve been here before!” and then things king of lose their identity.

Daniel Taylor:

It’s not quality travel. There’s a difference between going to a place and seeing a place.

QUESTION:

Well, that’s like even me, covering this show, I’ve never been to Switzerland, but I’ve been here watching and shooting show, and writing about it, so I haven’t left this small town or seen anything.

Chris Ellul:

And when we passed Montreaux, I was just saying to Dan, the first time we saw that it blew my mind, I’d never seen mountains; now that we’ve driven past it… I’ve seen it so many times…

[laughter]

Kelvin Swaby:

Yeah, we’ve seen it so many times…

Chris Ellul:

It’s beautiful, but I think you get miserable sometimes…

QUESTION:

So here’s a totally different question – your sound to me, sounds like it would be the perfect fit for a James Bond movie theme song… would you guys ever do that if someone approached you to?

Chris Ellul & Kelvin Swaby:

Of course we would!

QUESTION:

I think it would be killer…

Chris Ellul:

We’d do a better job than Adele… [starts mimicking Skyfall song]

[laughter]

Kelvin Swaby:

Yeah, she pretty much just took the songs from every Bond film…

QUESTION:

…and mashed it together…

Kelvin Swaby:

Yeah, and just mashed it.

QUESTION:

Which was a commercially smart thing to do…

Kelvin Swaby:

Yes, it’s commercially smart. But…

Chris Ellul:

It’s the easy thing to do…

Daniel Taylor:

It’s just a bit… [Daniel breaks into faux Adele singing voice]

[laughter]

Chris Ellul:

Bond has a sound…

Daniel Taylor:

[smiling] Bond needs me.

[laughter]

Daniel Taylor:

Like “Blood Dirt Love Stop” would have been; the last track on our last album – it sounded like a Bond theme.

Kelvin Swaby:

Yeah, that wouldn’t have been good. Well maybe they’ll ask us, and if they do ask us, then we’ll do something fucking better than “Skyfall”.

Chris Ellul:

Maybe, maybe…

QUESTION:

And then you guys did the cover for True Blood… would you guys ever consider doing any covers of any other artists? Because you have such a unique I think that you’re the kind of band that-

Kelvin Swaby:

It was hard to translate – it was really hard… that was really hard work.

Chris Ellul:

Because there were so many weird versions of it [“And When I Die”], and it was really schizophrenic and it took us ages… [looking at Daniel] I think it was like one of the hardest things we’ve done, wasn’t it?

Daniel Taylor:

Because we needed like an angle to get in it, and we didn’t know the original either, it wasn’t like… In England, I’d heard of that band [Peter, Paul and Mary]. I mean they’re big in the States, but we’d never…

Kelvin Swaby:

Then when we did hear it, we were like how the fuck do you make that work with what we do, you know? We don’t do covers, naturally, but if we get asked to do them, you know, we will attempt.

QUESTION:

You know what I could totally see you guys doing that I think would be really interesting? Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus”.

Chris Ellul:

Yeah, yeah, but the thing is, is that Johnny Cash did it, and like that’s about as good a cover as you’re going to get.

QUESTION:

Honestly, I didn’t really care for his version.

Chris Ellul:

Really? Aww…

QUESTION:

I always thing of bands that I like and what would mash together and be really interesting…

Kelvin Swaby:

Yeah, sure.

QUESTION:

Okay, I think I’ve taken up all my time – thank you so much for the opportunity to chat with you a bit before you set.

All ongoing coverage of Caprices Festival will be found via the following link:

Caprices-Festival-Crans-Montana-Switzerland-2013-Music-Concert-Event-News-Photos-Photography-Video-Review-Portal

Jason DeBord

Comments

  1. i love

  2. the heavy. I found them from a video game. i didn’t even know i loved them. i mean, i knew their songs, but i just didnt know who they were yet

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