Their third LP may be titled The Glorious Dead, but soulful rock-‘n’-rollers The Heavy are alive and well—and the classic guitar riffs, funky horns, and Curtis Mayfield-reminiscent vocals that fans have been missing since their 2009 album, The House that Dirt Built, are all in tow. That album’s lead single, “How You Like Me Now,” was one of the year’s most joyful surprises; and the first single from The Glorious Dead, “What Makes a Good Man?” follows in its catchy, triumphant footsteps. Play this album loudly enough, and it may just be possible to rouse the dead.
We spoke with guitarist Daniel Taylor about embracing change, the band’s obsession with horror films, and not selling out.
ILANA KAPLAN: Are you in the UK right now?
DANIEL TAYLOR: I am. It’s 11 o’clock in the evening.
KAPLAN: What’s been the biggest change for you from your debut album until your latest, The Glorious Dead?
TAYLOR: There’s been a few. Oh, God! One of the biggest changes has been just hearing our music so much more. It’s becoming so much more apparent on television, even in the UK. It hasn’t been like that for us over the last couple of years. Just recently, the tide seems to be turning. I’m hearing our stuff so much more on British television. There are a lot of people telling me that they are hearing it everywhere. We’re not in people’s faces, but I guess we’re kind of in people’s ears. Gradually. That’s probably the most significant thing that has changed. I guess we’re a lot busier as well.
KAPLAN: Does that make you feel like you’ve “sold out” at all?
TAYLOR: That’s a lot of people’s perception, isn’t it? We’re on an indie label. We don’t have mass marketing behind us, and we don’t have big budgets. We do our own thing. We do exactly what we want to do. We produce our own music. We write ourselves. We record ourselves. We mix ourselves. The artwork is done by my brother. That’s not selling out. We’re doing exactly what we want to do. We’ve earned ourselves the freedom to be able to do that.
To have your music used on television and in movies, that’s our way of getting it across to people. We’re not on the radio all the time. It’s the only way to get your music heard. I think you’d be kind of ignorant to not do that now. The way music is now, it’s hard to cut through. I think we’d be silly to turn that down. It might be cooler to not do that, but then nobody knows your band, so what’s the point? I think all of us set out to try and reach as many people. That’s the whole point of being in a band: trying to get your music out there. So, any opportunity to do that, within reason. We’re informed about where our music is going to be used; we get to say yes or no. There are things we can turn down, and there are things we can agree to. When it comes to movies and stuff like that, it’s great for us. I don’t think it’s selling out. Maybe 10 or 20 years ago it was seen as selling out, but nowadays I think it’s the only way to get your music out there. If you don’t have a major label, it basically forces it into people’s faces. That’s the only way. That’s the way I see it.
KAPLAN: You guys put out very soulful rock music. Did you always intend for your music to have those qualities, or did it just end up like that by accident?
TAYLOR: I think it was always meant to be that way. I think that with Kelvin’s voice, it was always going to be a soulful thing. You can’t make it what it’s not—you can’t change that into anything other than what it is. It was always going to be a blues, soul, and rock-‘n’-roll thing, because those are our ingredients. That’s where we come from, and that’s how we write. I think it has just become larger. We’ve just been able to use our imaginations so much more.
KAPLAN: With your album release, do you know who you’re going to be touring with?
TAYLOR: We’re going to be over in the States with a band called Silent Comedy. I don’t know much about them. We were going to bring a British band over, from where we’re from, but it costs so much to get over there and fund the tour.
KAPLAN: Which band is this?
TAYLOR: They’re called Kill It Kid. They’re from Bath. They’re a really good blues-rock band. They just signed to Warner Bros. in America, so it seemed like a good fit. It didn’t quite work out for them in terms of being able to finance them, which is a shame.
KAPLAN: I trust we’ll hear from them soon. How did you choose The Glorious Dead for your album title?
TAYLOR: We see it a lot. It’s on a lot of monuments. There are a lot of war memorials around the UK. It’s usually a part of the war memorials. I loved the way it sounded. It’s kind of a strange thing to say. There’s nothing particularly glorious about being dead. It sounded like a strange, horror film. It just grew from there, really. It seemed quite apt for the record. We’re kind of obsessed with zombie movies and horror films. It seemed like it just fit, at the time.
THE HEAVY’S THIRD LP, THE GLORIOUS DEAD, COMES OUT TODAY. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.