Heavy Medical have ways of examining the places of your body you didn’t know existed.
When it comes to making music, sometimes you can have just too many band members. It doesn’t always start that way. You begin with a few friends, but soon everyone wants to join in, and the next thing you know you have 15 members playing things such as the spoons, the washboard and the lute, all the while the band ends up being called something awful like The Ephemeral Manatees.
No, when it comes to music you should to keep it lean and keep it mean. Lean and mean like Heavy Medical. They’re the duo of David Angiolini (drums) and David Altman (bass), who we affectionately assume go by the moniker of “The Two Daves.” Hailing from the US city of Philadelphia, they’ve been going for nigh on a year making a merry mix of hardcore punk and blistering noise jams. Their commitment to hard playing, touring and living has already seen them criss-cross the US, releasing two EPs, titled ‘Threats,’ and ‘Tape.’
When we got in touch with Dave Altman to speak about the band, they were apparently “drinking champagne and watching football on TV,” which didn’t sound very hardcore at all. But once we pulled him away, and asked him about the band David Altman was more than willing to give us the lowdown on how it all started.
“So Heavy Medical were originally a two piece band where both of us are named Dave. About a year ago, we started playing with a second drummer, but unfortunately she wasn’t able to tour so a friend of ours filled in for her on our recent tour and we mutually decided that it would make more sense for him to be in the band. We also sometimes tour with our friend playing second bass. Anyway, I guess Heavy Medical is about playing loud music that’s fun for us and allows us to have an outlet to express ourselves. The band, for me is a great outlet to vent about all the things that piss me off and frustrate me. We try to play and write as much as possible and to keep things fresh and interesting with what we do. I guess we just want to play loud a lot and have fun.”
Nice one! You used to be known by the slightly pervy moniker Nervous Sex. What prompted you to change the band’s name? Were there people after you or something?
Nervous Sex were a three piece noise band. Dave and I had a band where I doing noise and he played drums when we added another guy and changed our name, but he kinda didn’t work out and ended up quitting. I had wanted to start writing bass and drum stuff because I hadn’t been playing a real instrument in a few years, so simultaneously we were writing what was going to be Heavy Medical shit. When that other guy quit, we started up HM as our main band. It worked out for the best.
The music you make is a righteously heavy mix of noise, bass, and hardcore. What have been the main influences in helping to achieve the Heavy Medical sound?
I grew up listening to a lot of punk and hardcore. When I got older I started listening to noise and other stuff. The band, for me, is just a natural progression of stuff that I like. It’s heavy, raw, and emotional. I mean, I guess essentially we’re kind of a punk band.
You’re from the fine city of Philadelphia. Tell about the punk/noise scene over there right now. Are you ploughing a lonely furrow, or are there any other bands we should be made aware of?
Philly really isn’t a bad place to be a band. It’s relatively close to other east coast cites, rent is cheap and houses are big to practice in and have shows. There’s a pretty diverse scene with their own sub scenes, I guess you could call them. Philly kinda has its own scene for every kind of underground music, from punk, to metal, to noise, to weird kinda out there shit. There are a lot of houses, show spaces, and bars that are pretty receptive to what we’re doing. As far as local bands I’d say check out Drums Like Machine Guns, HIRS, Ape!, Satanized(who recently broke up) and Bubonic Bear, who we just went on tour with.
OK time for the heavy questions. LIVE MUSIC QUESTION 1: You’ve just come off a strenuous month long tour across the US. How was the tour, and what were the highlights, if any? When it comes to being on the road for a long time, what’s the best way to keep fresh and motivated?
Overall the tour was good. It was a little over a month so there’s bound to be some bad shit happening. We had a ton of van problems and had to spend a lot of money repairing it, so we’re completely broke now. We did get to see a lot of friends around the country and meet new people. We played 4 shows in Canada which was great as I had never been to Canada and as a band we’ve never played out of the country. We also played one show in Tijuana. Tijuana was amazing. We had heard a lot of scary shit about the place, but decided it was worth going anyway. Mexico was beautiful and the people were nice as shit. All the bands we played with were great and the food was awesome and really cheap.
As far as motivation, I’d say that always trying to remember why I’m doing what I’m doing and realizing what an amazing experience tour can be. It’s all the awesome people you meet and the bands you play with and the places you go that keep you motivated. So sometimes it’s kinda out of your hands cause you can play shitty shows and go to crappy cities. You just have to remember that there’s gonna be some amazing things happening too.
LIVE MUSIC QUESTION 2: Seeing the live videos of you guys in action, we notice that there is a lot of bass abuse going on with no sight of any guitars. Is this mostly because out of necessity, of do you feel that having a guitar will just ruin the music you’re trying to make?
Well as I mentioned earlier, we started as a two piece. We felt the songs worked as a two piece and that there was not really a need for guitar. Dave and I have been playing together in different projects for years and I think we work really well together. We also probably would’ve progressed way slower if we had a third person (on guitar or otherwise) in the band when we started. There’s so much more I’d rather add to the band before adding a guitar player. I guess that’s why we now have a second drummer. We like working as a two piece, but there’s always a need to keep things from getting boring.
LIVE MUSIC QUESTION 3: when it comes to live shows, what’s the most inexplicable thing that´s happened at a heavy medical show? Has anyone died?
Shit, I wish I had a really good answer for this. We were playing a block party on our porch one night and as we were playing, some dude jumped up on the railing but then another guy jumped at him and the railing collapsed along with the two guys right in front of me as we were playing. That was funny. Also when we played in Calgary last month, the cops showed up after the show ended. I was outside on the stairs and saw cops with flashlights and then saw a light above me so I looked up and they had sent a helicopter out to the house! That’s kinda cool.
Nowt like the 5-0 to spice things up! Now, you´re going to be appearing at Iceland Airwaves this year. How are your preparations for coming to Iceland? And what is the extent of your knowledge of the place?
Well, we just got back from tour and we are pretty broke. I still don’t have a job because I had to quit mine to go on tour. So saving money is kinda rough. I’m going to have to borrow money for a plane ticket. We are really excited to play Airwaves, but planning has been a little stressful. As far as Iceland knowledge, I was always interested in Iceland and finally got to visit last year and go to Airwaves. I think Iceland is an amazing place and we’re totally excited to be able to play there!
Final Question: Black Flag or Minor Threat?
Minor Threat. I like Black Flag, but the answer will always be Minor Threat!
Heavy Medical are performing on Friday 2nd November, 2140, at Cafe Amsterdam. You can hear more of their music at their Bandcamp page. Please go and see them, then buy them a beer and a hot dog. We think they may need it!