Wanee Festival Featured Artist Interview: The Heavy Pets

wanee_03The 10th annual Wanee Festival is upon us! I’m case you missed it, TheBlueIndian.com offered a glimpse back at the past years that helped establish it as one of the most iconic American music festivals. We had the pleasure of speaking with Jeff Lloyd of The Heavy Pets, one of the acts playing the opening night of the festival. If you’re headed to Live Oak early make sure to catch their 8:30pm set tonight!

What do you consider the signature element of a performance by The Heavy Pets?

Energy.  We really try and keep it uptempo and rocking but also like to throw a few curveballs. Tony (bassist) writes most of our setlists and has a real good way of making sure our shows have that ebb and flow – bringing it down so we can build it back up only to knock em down again.  We have a deep catalog and we have fun playing with it to take our audience for a ride.

Who is your favorite live performer that is still performing?

I love Toots (from Toots and the Mayals).  He is an incredible performer and singer and the songs just hit me right where it counts, every time.

Where is your favorite market or venue to play?

There really are so many but I’d have to say NY and Philly just because that is where we are from and it always seems like a homecoming of sorts.  That is the single best non-musical part about this crazy business – getting together with your friends, your family, and your favorite people.

Describe the difference between your approach to a studio recording vs playing a song live.

It is just a different animal for us entirely.  Some bands go in and record a lot of stuff together live in the studio, but we tend to build songs from the ground up.  After drums and bass we record everything else one part at a time.  We experiment with different tones using different amps and guitars and mic’ing techniques.  We try singing stuff differently.  It is here where we get to really put the song under the microscope and learn more about what makes it work, delving into every little detail.  I find that after we record a song – even one we have been playing live for years – we play it better and a lot changes.

What’s your proudest moment as a band?

There have been many many special moments and milestones, but I have to say playing the Fillmore in San Francisco a few weeks ago.  We opened up for Galactic there – two nights.  The vibe is incredible and walking around there and looking at the posters – the history of the place will just give you chills.  Many amazing things have happened on that stage and it was quite humbling and inspiring to get to do our thing up there.

What is the craziest thing you’ve experienced while touring?

Hmm.  As for stuff we can print – I’d probably go with an after-party featuring us, the cast and band of the Musical Production of The Color Purple and the one and only Tom Green.  The Color Purple had finished their run in West Palm Beach – Tom Green had finished a stand up tour and we were returning home from a little run or something and they closed down the bar for us – well opened it up I guess is more like it. That Tom Green guy is something else, and he still owes us money for a T-Shirt.

Are you guys more creative at home, or on the road; where do you find yourselves writing the most music?

It’s a little different for each of us but personally speaking it is hard to write on the road – with one exception – my parents place.  It’s where I learned to play and where I wrote most of the songs I wrote growing up.  Whenever we tour the Northeast I will get a night or two there if I’m lucky and I try and stay up all night and pen something.  Doesn’t always work but just being home has a great effect on me.

When can we expect a new record?

Our new EP, Rags and Aces, will be released on CD, 7″ vinyl and all digital outlets on May 6 which we’ll celebrate with a Live From AURA Studio multi-cam HD, multi-track performance. We are releasing each track online individually. “Movie Star” was just released today. Check it out...

What are you looking forward to the most about your upcoming performance at Wanee?

We are very lucky to get to perform at the Spirit of Suwanee Music Park as often as we do, but this is a first to play Wanee.  It’s the big one, ya know?  We have a good long set at 9 on Wednesday in the amphitheater.  2 hours I believe.  So it will be nice to stretch out, take our time and give Wanee a real good look at who we are and what we do.