The Heavy

Forming in the fertile swamps of England’s West Country in the mid-naughties, around the axis of Dan Taylor (guitarist and songwriter) and Kelvin Swaby (vocalist and songwriter,) the Heavy immediately astounded. Jaw dropping, freshly minted riffs, swinging hip-hop drums, funk-ridden bass and Swaby’s startling, Mayfield-esque vocals meant early singles ‘That Kind of Man’ and ‘Colleen’ blew minds and won hearts. The debut album they were taken from – ‘Great Vengeance and Furious Fire’ – became an instant connoisseurs’ classic.

It was their sophomore album, though, that saw them blasting into homes across the globe. ‘The House that Dirt Built’ was everything a second album should be: a deeper, richer progression from the band’s early work. It also yielded the mighty ‘How You Like Me Now?’ The single was licensed for a major commercial in the 3rd Quarter of the Superbowl (the biggest ad slot in the world) and quite simply went stratospheric.

A heady mix of impassioned, incandescent vocal, gargantuan riff and boom-bap drums, it also happened to conjure up a triumph-in-adversity sentiment that struck a chord across the globe. The song went on to become the first for which David Letterman ever requested an encore, when The Heavy played the “Late Show,” and appeared everywhere from “Entourage,” Academy Award-nominated film The Fighter, and Mark Wahlberg’s hit comedy ‘Ted.’

“It became such a big tune, that people asked, ‘How are you going to top that?’.” Swaby says.

The answer was 2012’s ‘The Glorious Dead,’ the band’s third album. Searching for inspiration, The Heavy – which in addition to Taylor and Swaby includes Spencer Page (bass) and Chris Ellul (drums) – travelled from their Bath, England hometown to Columbus, Georgia. There, they hooked up with local gospel singers and musicians for some Southern Gothic sublimity.

The final magic ingredient in the mix was Gabriel “Bosco Mann” Roth of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, who added string and horn parts to four songs.

Even deeper, a touch darker, and with shades of Southern Gothic infesting the swampy rock n’ soul of previous records, the album was another giant step forward, Frankensteining swampy voodoo and b-movie zombies with garage rock and Gospel-soaked soul.

Lead single ‘What Makes a Good Man?’ showed that The Heavy were able to write brilliant singles time after time, with synchs snowing in once again, and American radio coming on board. The band toured the world exhaustively, wowing audiences with their transcendental live performances.

“It was over the top, in a good way,” adds Heavy frontman Kelvin Swaby. “We went pretty cinematic, setting out to score a film that hasn’t been written.”
“It’s good to have a bit of light and shade,” Taylor adds.

Since then, The Heavy has gone on to achieve storming success in Japan, playing Fuji Rock, chalking up a #1 alternative album on iTunes Japan, scoring a major Pepsi synch and playing Japan’s biggest breakfast TV show, ‘Sukkiri.’

Their music was used in the stunning Guiness Sapeurs ad, they played Glastonbury, sold out Shepherd’s Bush Empire and re-recorded How You Like Me Now? with none other than 50 Cent, to launch ESPN’s coverage of the NFL Draft Week.

To top it all, How You Like Me Now? reached Gold status in the United States – a stunning achievement for an English, independent artist. How to top all that, you might ask? Well, there’s a new album on the way, and The Heavy just happen to have a habit of exceeding themselves…

From afar, it looks, feels, and sounds like witchcraft.

A Halloween-consumed alternative outlaw whose tastes veer from Merle Haggard to Beach House, Los Angeles singer and songwriter Jesse Jo Stark most definitely knows her roots, but she’s purely a product of tomorrow. How many modern musical upstarts could share a Teen Vogue cover alongside Bella Hadid and then jet to Prague to open for Guns N’ Roses? Truth is, she’s not just an outlier for her generation; she’s a timeless iconoclast.

That fact is evidenced in the most telling way possible—her playlist.

“When I get into an Uber, the driver is typically shocked by my playlist,” she grins. “They’re always a little shocked by the tunes I choose, like country and dreamy road trip tunes by Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Sinead O’Connor, Beach House, Kevin Morby, The Cramps, Van Morrison, and John Prine to name a few. They always say to me not many young people they drive play songs like that. I can only hope I’m one of many from this generation who appreciates those classic songs that last a lifetime.”

After picking up guitar at eleven, handwriting songs in an endless array of notebooks, and slaying her first gigs by 16, the self-described “West Side Chick” built a quiet buzz with 2016 and 2017 songs such as “Down Your Drain” and “Driftwood” produced by Jason Lytle [Grandaddy, Band of Horses producer] and co-written alongside Jonathan Rice. As these cuts captivated a growing fan base, she earned the endorsement of Elle, Interview Magazine, Vice, American Songwriter, Noisey, and many others in between headline shows around her city.

Jesse Jo’s 2017 single “Deadly Doll” hints at her otherworldly je ne sais quoi equally awash in rusty twang and indie gothic soul informed by a lifelong love of Bride of Frankenstein and The Addams Family. It’s the perfect way to get to know the rock sorceress.

“When I write and perform, I inhabit some extension of myself,” she admits. “It’s the one time I feel like I’m sharing. I’m me. It’s easier for me to communicate through singing than it is just to talk. That’s where ‘Deadly Doll’ came from.”

It’s also a springboard for a host of new music and many more shows. Jesse Jo kicks off her next phase with a month-long Echo residency in Los Angeles.

Her spell is now officially cast…

“When you hear my music, I hope it can embody a good day or get you through a shitty day, depending on the track,” she leaves off. “I hope you know it’s okay to be imperfect, weird, and act like a kid. Also, it’s that old world shit as much as it is young. I want you to sway my music. I don’t think anyone will come in and fist pump or grind, but I definitely think you’ll be swaying.”


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