Interview: Heavy Breath

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I had a chance to speak with Mike Tobey (bass) and Kilian Appleby (vocals) from New Haven’s own self-described hardcore band-turned-party rock band (trademark it) Heavy Breath about their new record, what it’s like being on a label, how far the DIY scene still has to go, being themselves, ’80s pop, Kanye, and more.

10710835_948868278475925_651578149541139807_nYou guys have a new record out on Ear One Productions called Jumps the Shark. What do you have to say about it?

Tobey: I’m thankful it’s out. When your record exists in limbo for two years it makes you question your future as a band and why you even bother with this shit in the first place. I’m really thankful to say I still like the album. I have a hard time listening to our early records and am super critical of my own performances, so to have a record stand the test of time two years after recording is really, really rewarding. There are nearly 200 copies of Jumps the Shark sitting in my house right now. Buy some .

Kilian: I think it’s a cool record, and something where we tried to go a step further, towards something more than what most hardcore and punk provides. The record has a structure as it proceeds, where there’s anger and then this sort of cold, industrial darkness that gives way to some form of catharsis and then goes up its own ass again. I hope there are at least a couple people out there who would be intrigued by that and want to check it out.

Having not worked with a label on your previous releases, how was it having Ear One behind it?

Tobey: All of our other stuff has either been self-released or friends helped us out. Ear One is a couple of guys who’ve been doing this sort of thing their whole lives. They’ve been in bands and seen all of the sides of this, so they don’t bullshit and are eager to get things done with us. This past week (October 2nd) just saw the launch of Jumps the Shark on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and Google and they’re going to release a video for “The Screw” pretty soon. So while the majority of what we do as a band is DIY, having someone who’s been there before behind us is a really exciting and new experience.

Kilian: Even just being able to name-drop these guys, who are well-known in this scene regionally and beyond, helps a lot. We sat on the record for so long that I think on our own we would have become antsy and done a smaller, sloppier release just to get it out there, but they were there to say, “No, let’s do it right and do it professionally,” which is definitely the right call in the long run.

You guys were originally supposed to release Jumps the Shark about a year earlier. What delayed its release? Was it a difficult record to make?

Tobey: A tiny bit of the material dates back to 2012. Most of it was written and completed shortly before we went into the studio. The writing was pretty easy once a lineup coalesced because we all wanted to do the same thing. Ian Bates (formerly of Manners) was really easy to work with and open to everyone’s ideas. Tracking drums took literally a day and a half in August 2013 (most of which I spent sitting on a futon murdering a 30 of PBR) and the whole thing was done by November 2013. When it came to the stuff that really matters (artwork, money, getting our figurative shit together), we took our sweet time.

Kilian: The actual writing and recording took a lot of effort but not a lot of time, at least compared to how long it took to put out. It was just a matter of getting our ducks in a row to give this thing the release it deserves.

Something that stood out to me while listening to the record was the wide array of disparate influences, with everything from 80s pop (the nod to Depeche Mode on “Personal Yeezus”) to hardcore and punk and everything in between. What places, musical or otherwise, did you draw inspiration from to arrive at the sounds on this record?

Tobey: At some point we stopped being a hardcore band and turned into something like a socially conscious, party-rock band. We realized we didn’t need to try to be anything but ourselves because the core sound of big, fucking heavy riffs, complicated drumming, and Kilian’s sexy vocals will always be there. Once we got to that point, we decided to write whatever we wanted. I remember listening to a lot of the newest Queens of the Stone Age, Bowie and Sabbath records at the time along with a bunch of film soundtracks (Ennio Morricone, Goblin, Fabio Frizzi, Tangerine Dream, etc) plus everyone else’s influences so you can hear bits of that all over the record.

Kilian: Film soundtracks are definitely key. The Drive soundtrack definitely informed some of the electronic bits, which then in turn helped give the album, as a whole, structure. For me there was a lot of Kanye as well, which I think informed some of the grandiose and acerbic aspects of the record.

10712376_933123393383747_1063110538523455332_oWhat are some of your favorite releases from Connecticut bands this year? In general?

Tobey: Not so many locals this year but the most recent Cop, Spit-Take and Nightbitch releases are fucking killer. Support them cuz they’re all working bands who do so out of love for the art. For other 2015 stuff I really dig the new Iron Maiden, A$AP Rocky, Earl Sweatshirt, John Carpenter and Self Defense Family records.

Kilian: I think Pus is releasing something soon. They’re a crossover band that has Iron Age riffs, which is pretty rad.

How do you feel about the way the Connecticut punk scene is progressing, being such a big part of it yourselves? As far as safe spaces and inclusiveness, it seems it has a ways to go, in my opinion.

Tobey: Most of the time I would prefer people listened closely to what comes out of their own mouths rather than try to call their friends out for doing the same exact shit. I’m thankful that recently certain abusers/toxic people have been outed and held accountable in public. Grown fucking adults should take their actions and words into consideration and make mature decisions, but they rarely do. I’d say that “it takes time” but empathy and compassion aren’t things that you just grow and harvest. Most people lack a context to understand the impact of the shitty things they say and do.

Kilian: I think all aspects of the Connecticut scene have a ways to go. There really aren’t many hardcore/punk bands left at all. Most of the guys that were playing it have either started softer bands or left the scene entirely. I feel like we might be the biggest, or one of the biggest, local Connecticut hardcore bands left, which is sad because we mostly just play to our friends.

Do you feel you have or will get a wider audience with a full-length now under your belt?

Tobey: I hope so. This is the best thing we’ve ever done and everyone needs to know it.

Kilian: That’d be great. Although I’ve always kind of assumed that we’re destined to become one of those bands that break up and gain some slightly larger following of people saying, “Hey, this is really cool! Why didn’t I know about this band when they were actually around?”

Any plans to tour your new record? Any other plans for the rest of this year?

Tobey: We work very slowly. We’re also all grown adults (except our current drummer, who is a 19-year-old baby in college) with at least one job, about two bands per person and a variety of interests. Weekends/week-long things are realistic for us, which sucks because we love to play live but we can’t just drop everything to go on a tour. Unless someone wants to be our sugar daddy and fund us to fame. We’re better than most of the bands kids pretend to like and humble about it, too. As for the rest of the year, we’re going to release the video for “The Screw”, play some scattered dates up and down the east coast, possibly fit in a band practice or two and kill a couple of 30s.

Kilian: As always, I will let Tobey figure it out. And then when we actually have shows he’ll tell me about them a week beforehand and I’ll get mad at him because he never told me about them and I didn’t take them off from work. He will then tell me that he told me three months ago and I just forgot about it.



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