Heavy on the Ride Interview
Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
I was lucky enough to catch a few words with Jordan Huxtable and Michael Bale from Welsh band Heavy on the Ride, after their gig at Swansea’s Sin City venue as part of The Swansea Fringe 2018
PD: Tell us about the origins of this incarnation of Heavy on the Ride?
JH: There was an older incarnation that had more members. But this version of the band, with the same sort of songs and stuff have been going since 2009.
MB: I’d already been playing with Jordan in a previous band and it kind of fell apart. So we started looking for another drummer, just to get things up and running again We used completely new music, we did try and pull some of the older stuff in. But it was nice to start afresh.
JH: Our original band had technically around 7 members at one point, and we went down to a 3 piece… we were like 17 or 18 and and was only for a year and a half, so it didn’t really go anywhere. I kinda look at it as experience.
MB: Definitely, especially with regards to recording and well the whole shebang.
JH: So in 2009 we sort of had a soft reboot, like with the original version of the band, we never had a drummer for it really, for what we wanted to do. Everybody was doing their own bits.
PD: There was never a clear direction?
JH: We never really did what we intended to do.
MB: Songs were not written in practice as a band sort of thing, you (Jordan) and the other guitarist used to programme drums for demos and stuff and take that in to the practice room.
JH: That’s not a band.
Then in 2009 we got with our original drummer Matthew Ham, who was with us for 6 years, so with the 3 of us together for all that time, we really, really gelled. Without Ham’s input into the band I think the band would have turned out very differently. After the first year or so we started slowly finding our feet and he started putting influences in the band which we may not have had originally and I think that was a good thing. At first I was unsure of it, but I thought, let’s go down this path and what that essentially did was make a big amalgamation of all our influences separately as musicians and that helped us define a direction as ourselves. Any band really is built from everybody’s influences thrown into a pot, mixed around and then that’s the band.
PD: What is South Wales like for bands like yourself in regards to venues, the music scene etc?
MB: Things are changing all the time, we’ve been playing for around 10 years in and around Swansea. There’s been periods of venues closing down and it’s like where is there left to play? But then there were other periods with peak times, venues going strong. Especially in the first few moths that a venue opened, people were always going.
JH: I really like Static, that has just reopened as The Bunkhouse.
PD: I’ve just come from there, it’s a really nice venue.
JH: For a city like this, I think it’s the perfect size and the layout is fantastic. It’s just a stage and a bar all in one place, you’re not gonna miss a thing in there. That means the crowd is not going to look like it’s dissipating or anything. Which is perfect.
MB: We had our last EP show in there, it’s a good venue.
PD: Can you update us on how the debut album is coming along?
JH: Errr, well. the drums are done….
JH: Yeah the drums are done.
PD: So Sean’s (Mahoney) gone on holiday then?
JH: (Laughs) Sean has only been with us now for just under a year and he’s coming into his own.
MB: Like the new stuff we’ve jammed, it’s really solid, I’m liking how that’s sounding.
JH: Every drummer plays a bit different and we need a very specific thing for the drums.
MB: So Ham came back to record the drums for the album while Sean was still learning the stuff for our set for us to play live.
JH: Which was great. Yeah, I think it was a shame the way things had ended when we split up before…
MB: So we want to see this first album out all together sort of thing.
JH: … it felt right to get him back in because at the end of the day we wrote all those songs with him and it felt right to record those songs with him. We are all on good terms again now. We may plays shows with him again one day.
MB: At least for the album launch if he was playing some songs, I think it would be good.
PD: They say you should never burn bridges.
JH: So the answer really is that the drums are done, it’s just finding the time to get the bass and guitars done now.
PD: So any timeline on that?
JH: We don’t want to put a deadline on it…
MB: We’ve decided in the meantime to put out some new material with Sean. To let people know that we are doing stuff like ” here’s a song to tide you over” sort of thing. So that’s going to get released asap.
JH: That will be out before the end of the year 100%.
PD: Has the album got a title yet?
JH: We used to just say call it self titled, I guess for me personally I feel that if a band is going to have a self titled album I always felt that it should be their first album.
MB: It’s like, that’s your sound, that’s your name… you know.
JH: I used to jump the gun a bit and oh, lets get some artwork done before even the vocals were recorded.
MB: There’s nothing wrong in getting some concepts lined up if we are going in the same directions, cos not even all the lyrics are finalised yet for the album. With some of the songs it would be nice to listen to what we’ve recorded to kind of finish those bits and pieces off.
JH: If you come to the live show, the last song we play all the time now, that’s probably going to be the album’s closer.
PD: Would you say that the new material is any different to ‘Delaying The Inevitable’ or ‘Different Animals’?
MB: Closer to ‘Different Animals’.
JH: Personally I always felt that the plan was, when we were writing the album, the first EP ‘Delaying The Inevitable’ was more like the heavier influence side of things that we kind of got from Ham, like the Melvins and Mastodons, stuff like that. And then the next EP ‘Different Animals’ was a bit more of the quirkier rockier kind of stuff and by the time we got to the album it was…
MB: A bit of both.
JH: Yeah, we found what we were aiming for, we would have found ourselves by the time we got to the album.
MB: So we had a loose album structure and then you could see the change in the tone of the songs as it went on. The idea that it started off quite, in there, like yeahhh and then mellowing off a little bit in places and then picking up again towards the end.
PD: So I suppose in hindsight you can look back and see what didn’t work, what you can change?
JH: Saying that, when we re-did the drums…. we originally recorded the album in 2015, but then after we listened to it, after a long time we thought we could have done a better job. I think the vibe wasn’t there.
MB: So let’s say that a pre-production version of the album exists with no vocals on it though. The sessions kind of ended before it got further.
JH: But when we came back together with Ham to redo the drums, we jammed beforehand as he hadn’t played some of the songs for a long time and on reflection, as you said there were stuff that we thought we could do better and even changing the structure of songs in some parts. One song, I don’t really remember us jamming it much and Ham came in one day with an idea we all just tried it out and went for a take then. There’s a couple of things that we’ve changed and it’s made those bits better.
MB: It was easier and more laid back because we did it in our jam space, rather than going somewhere else. Even though where we recorded before was quite relaxed, it’s not like we’d have far to go if we needed to change something….
JH: I think that even though the place was relaxed where we did the original version, we still had the time restraints. Now we are doing it in our own place we can take all the time we need. I suppose there is a bad side to that, because we could get a bit lazy, but on the other hand, I’ve always said that you only get one chance to put a first album out. you wont ever get that chance again. That’s why we aren’t putting out that first version. It wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be. It needs to be right or it wont see the light of day.
PD: You’ve stated that you have played with members of Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, The Mars Volta etc, can you elaborate on this a little?
JH: Well Queens of the Stone Age are my favourite band.
MB: Show him the tattoo Jordan.
JH: (laughs) My tattoo is over my heart, no girl’s gonna take that place. The first gig we played was with a band called Star and Dagger in Bogiez in 2013. I think I’d been on Twitter and seen that they were playing, I didn’t know who they were, but I saw in brackets that they had Dave Catching and Gene Trautmann playing, both were in QOTSA and Eagles of Death Metal.. Also playing with them was the former bass player from White Zombie Sean Yseult. So I saw that on Twitter and instantly I was like “Can we support, can we support?” I had to send them an email and waited a day to hear from them. And then it was like “oh my god, we’re playing with members of QOTSA” We ended up being the only support, which was awesome.
One of the things I always remember about the show was we got there earlier than they had and they were coming down the stairs of the venue, so we went to give them a hand bringing some stuff in and Gene is there introducing himself, he’s like “Oh hi, I’m Gene…” and in my head I’m like “I know who you are”
I’ve met a lot of people from my favourite bands over the years, but after that show, that experience really made me feel that these are just people as well and it kind of made me feel a little grounded about playing with people that have done a lot of stuff. We had quite a few conversations with them.
PD: They do say that you should never meet your heroes.
MB: In this case, especially in the scenarios we’ve done it, it’s worked out alright. They’re small venues, it’s not like there are people trying to sneak in to places to meet these people and stuff. It’s always been nice.
JH The other show was with Joey Castillo and Nick Oliveri, two more well known members from QOTSA. That one was a big one because they were two of the bigger known members of the band.
MB: We were like, trying our luck, asking if we can support. At that time there was another hoop to jump through, we had to play another show for the organisers to see how well we could pull people in and how well we were received. But even that show was played with more well known bands.
JH: Like Electric Eel Shock who are a Japanese band. They are brilliant. You need to see them live though, you really have to see them live.
MB: They’ve got their own like, gimmicks set down, their music is kind of ‘cheesy rock’ but it’s just the way they perform, The show is just really enetertaining.
JH: They love classic rock bands like AC/DC, Sabbath, stuff like that, they’re like a Japanese Western band. That’s the way I find best to describe them.
MB: The drummer wears nothing but a sock over his……
PD: How is 2019 looking for Heavy on the Ride?
MB: I have a baby due to be born in April, so I’d like to get my bass parts for the album done by the end of this year, so that Jordan can start mixing stuff, but there’s nothing planned really.
JH: If we can get the bass parts down asap, then I can spend as long as I want on guitars…
PD: Not too long though?
JH: No, I don’t want this to turn into another Chinese Democracy. It angers me how long this album is taking. I see other bands and how many albums they’re churning out and I’m like “I just want to get one out, just one!”
MB: We’re catching up on ourselves with new stuff with Sean’
JH: We’ll probably start to write some new stuff with Sean soon, I don’t know when we’ll be playing it live, cos really we should get the album done and play all the songs off that first. We already play stuff from it cos we don’t know when the album’s gonna come out, but we want to play them live.
I think the aim is, get the album out. I want to go back to touring. I don’t know, but when we did the last tour that was the most ‘free’ I have ever felt in my life personally. I know that sounds a bit cheesy to say. As long as the van was full of diesel, the van didn’t break down and we got to every venue on time and we played our show. We had nothing to worry about.
MB: I found my love of comics, thanks to Ham, we went to various record shops and comic shops and brought back much more stuff then we should have.
PD: Thanks for taking the time to chat today. Any message for the readers?
MB: Just stick with us, there will be music coming soon.
JH: Don’t know how soon, well it will be soon, there will be a single by the end of the year and the plan is to release that through a small label in Bristol called Quasar Sounds. We love playing in Bristol, we always have a good show up there. So it will be coming out with them at some point. We are going to make sure we get a video done for it. It will 100% be coming out this year, you can quote me on that.
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