The Heavy: How You Like Them Now?
Frontman Kelvin Swaby on his band’s latest LP, ‘The Glorious Dead’
THE HEAVY'S THIRD ALBUM, The Glorious Dead, dropped late last month. The band’s vocalist (and “the one that’s always in front of the computer chopping shit”), Kelvin Swaby, checks in from London to talk us through some of the album’s highlights. It’s the first LP from the four-piece (Swaby, guitarist Dan Taylor, bassist Spencer Page and drummer Chris Ellul) since their track “How You Like Me Now?” blew up Stateside, and, Swaby says, “We know that the third record could [determine] whether we stick around or whether people just kind of forget about us.”
“Can’t Play Dead”
“It feels like the soundtrack to a zombie B-movie,” says Swaby of the album’s opener. Built around a filthy garage riff, the track’s subject – a woman who “Walks like a zombie/Talks too cold/Lives in a graveyard like the one I call home” – is the music business. “There are way too many puppets in this industry now,” says Swaby. “Real music is getting lost. You have all these shows that make puppets every season, and then you don’t hear about them the next season. [This business] can take you to the grave and spit you out.”
“Curse Me Good”
This acoustic-led track is, Swaby says, “somewhere between the Stones, George Harrison and Wu-Tang.” It’s one of several songs on the album dealing with the theme of how success changes others’ perception of you. “As you begin to get a little larger, people – sometimes people you think you’re really tight with – start to talk a lot of shit about you,” says Swaby. “The way The Heavy works, we really stick together. We have one vision, and it’s quite funny when people come along and have this other idea of the way it should be.”
“What Makes A Good Man?”
The gospel-style call-and-response of the chorus to the album’s first single came together on a rare day off for the band during a long haul around the U.S. “I was talking to our bus driver, who lives in Columbus, Georgia, and he was, like, ‘You’ve seriously got to come down one day, you’re gonna love the vibe down there.’ So we did. And it was incredible. These people are just f***ing insane – I’ve never heard voices like it in my life,” Swaby says. “It just sounded so… bad. I was like, ‘Right. We’re coming back to do this shit here.’ That was the connection that needed to happen.” The track’s title, says Swaby, is “an open question.” “When you’re on tour all of the time, your relationship with your loved ones suffers quite seriously sometimes. I got married just this weekend, and it’s amazing, because we’ve been through our ups and downs. You have to kind of question why it is you’re doing what you’re doing. So: What makes a good man?”
“Big Bad Wolf”
A long-standing live favorite (the chorus usually resulting in a mass howl-along), the band finally got down a horn-led version they’re happy with on the record. The idea for the song came from a “ridiculous, stellar review” in the early days, along the lines of “These four guys come in like big, bad wolves, and they will tear any house down.”
What seems to be Taylor’s ode to an unattainable woman is, in fact, “about Daniel’s obsession with eBay,” Swaby explains. “He’s on it all the time. He just bought a house – not on eBay – and he still can’t stop shopping. It’s ridiculous.” The track is set to a backdrop of “amazing film-score strings” by Bosco Mann, and an Omnichord (for which Taylor apparently swapped a pair of Mighty Air Jordan 1s – “some very, very limited edition shoes”).
“We haven’t really been in our hometown for a long time, because we’ve been traveling round the world,” Swaby explains. “So there are two tracks on this record – this one and “Don’t Say Nothing” – that are pretty much about the same thing. That being: People believe they know more about you than you do yourselves. So you’ll go out and people are talking about you, to you, in the third person. It’s really quite weird. They start talking loads of shit about you, and you hear it and you go, ‘But… I was there.’”
“Don’t Say Nothing”
“That’s like our car chase scene,” says Swaby. This upbeat, raucous challenge to The Heavy’s detractors caused the crowd at the album’s launch party to go “insane,” according to the singer. “I anticipate it doing good things for the band.”
“Blood Dirt Love Stop”
“This was always going to be the last song on this record,” Swaby says of the slow-burning, soulful closer. It was written, he says, “about the realization and understanding that you’ve been wrong. And the realization that what’s important is family. You have to take stock of what it is that you do, and what it is you need.
“We’ve set this whole kind of soundtrack and this was very fitting for the final credits,” he continues. “You’ve gone from fighting zombies in “Can’t Play Dead” to driving through some backwater town in “Curse Me Good” into “What Makes A Good Man?” as you enter that town. [This track] is why you’ve been fighting all these zombies and demons – all of this – throughout the whole of the record.”
Read our April 2011 feature on The Heavy here
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