The Heavy Experience don’t want your love. Just your ears. And your soul.
By Bob Cluness
You can’t rush musical five-piece The Heavy Experience. Rushing them would only cause a major upset to your senses, or a fraying at the edges of your aura.
They first came to our attention in 2010 with a self-titled EP released on 10” vinyl. The two tracks contained within sounded like nothing else that was being made in Iceland at the time. Heavy fermenting pools of jazz and blues influenced doom, a musical environment where the space and silence are just as important as the notes they played. It was the sound of the earth awakening and stretching under your feet.
This month sees the band release their second record, ‘Slowscope’, on Kimi Records. Its six songs seek to expand upon the sounds and ideas represented in their debut EP. We took the chance to speak with saxophone player Tumi Árnason about the band, their new album, and being a focus for the history of rock.
We start with an introduction from the band:
“Dear readers of the Reykjavík Grapevine. We are The Heavy Experience—a Reykjavíkian electric rock ensemble. As a band we play instruments, but we also play the listener’s state of mind through his or her vulnerability.”
ROCK BAND AS METAMORPHOSIS (OR LENS)
When did the idea of The Heavy Experience take hold? In classic Icelandic style, you all seem to be playing/have played in 12 bands each.
TÁ: It is difficult to say when the idea took hold; one might even say that it hasn’t taken hold. It’s an ongoing process—a metamorphosis. The event of Heavy Experience is but an aspect of the event of rock music. The maybe proper metaphor is a lens—The Heavy Experience is a lens and through it the phenomenon of rock music of the past century is reflected onto the future.
One morning, we were in garden outside our rehearsal space, and under a tree was a rock. We lifted the rock and became rock. One of our members is a geologist—so we know exactly what’s going on.
We may play in a lot of different bands, but they have no idea of the magnitude of rock our space is built upon. There is a lot of concrete in the house and within that there is our equipment. They are our tools to transform our rock into waveforms. Energy causes all the changes in the material world, but energy does not disappear, nor is it ever created. This is known as the principle of conservation of energy.
ENTHUSIASM AND SINCERITY
Your album, ‘Slowscope,’ sounds excellent and dynamic. How was your experience in making the album?
TÁ: Thank you. It took months to find time where everybody could be in the same room for decent amount of time. Then it took months to find time to mix, raise money for mastering and eventually releasing it. The recording process itself actually clocks in at around about 22 hours. Some of the songs were so freshly written that we were still making them up during recordings. Then there are some ancient ones that we were ready to leave behind us.
We recorded it in our old rehearsal space, the same room as we did our first EP. In between takes, we watched episodes of the BBC documentary series ‘Last Chance To See’. Creating music and pondering over dying species.
One of the things you get from listening to ‘Slowscope’ is that some of the music has a different feel to your first album, the saxophone and slide guitars invoking a Americana feel, rather than downtown Reykjavik. What were the images you wanted to achieve with the record?
TÁ: No actual scenery production takes place on our recordings. Think of it more like a series of mantras whose purpose is to take you to the abyss, the void, where everything your senses have stumbled upon may become visible to you. That said – if it were a colour it would be blue.
In this constantly fast paced world, your music encourages people to slow down and take notice. Is our culture, and society in general, moving too fast for its own good? Or does futureshock exist only in old people?
TÁ: Nothing is moving too fast. Everything is at its right pace. However the oscillations are balancing out into the middle ground—music as a commodity in a capitalist society. It is nice to stop for a while and notice the rhythm of things. The most important thing is to have it nice.
SOUND AND PHYSICS
You’re almost certain to be playing alongside several bands at the same time. Tell us WHY festivalgoers should decide to see you instead of the other?
TÁ: People should see The Heavy Experience if they want to encounter another mentality through sounds and physics. We are not about having a party. We are not about saying witty things in between songs. We will not declare how you are the greatest audience we’ve ever played to, even though you might deserve it. We are about being there with people, for people. We can feel that when it happens and concertgoers do also. It’s a marvellous feeling.
For all non-Icelandic festivalgoers, what Icelandic acts do people need to look out for? Are there any hidden gems in the dirt that need to be discovered?
TÁ: It’s always healthy to see the neo-country-charmers Hudson Wayne, the disturbing bliss of Hollow Veins create or the party-proggers Caterpillarmen.
What’s in your pockets right now?
TÁ: Aluminium guitar picks.
Are there any words that can describe The Heavy Experience? Can you make one up?
The Heavy Experience are performing on Thursday 1st November, 8pm, at Harpa Norðurljós.