Bath quartet The Heavy release their self-produced fourth album on April 1st called ‘Hurt & The Merciless’ through Counter Records. The new record is arguably their most powerful and personal to date so in celebration we've asked them to put together a playlist of music that has inspired them not just on this album, but over the years as well.
Perhaps best known for their global hit ‘How You Like Me Now?’, The Heavy’s genre-blending sound has been described as fusing “Prince, The Rolling Stones and 60’s Garage” (Q) and “breathing sweaty life into garage-punk, ska, voodoo funk, swamp rock, dub, blues and classic R&B/soul” (Uncut). It’s an intoxicating mix that has brought the band considerable international success. They’ve had over 100 million online streams and their songs have appeared in many of the coolest films and TV series of the past few years.
Whilst making ‘Hurt & The Merciless’, The Heavy went through some dark times. There was death, divorce, near break-ups and breakdowns. It all feeds into their most exhilarating record yet.
“We attack all of these things,” says frontman Kelvin Swaby, “and the only way we know how to do that is by writing incredible music.”
Everything Swaby and his band-mates guitarist Dan Taylor, bassist Spencer Page and drummer Chris Ellul have achieved over the past decade feels like it has been leading to this point.
ESG - Dance
ESG were an all female, post punk band from the South Bronx in the early 80's and the song Dance is a track that's influenced the record throughout, with it's super, mechanically tight drum sound and a weight to kill for.
Ruth Swann - Tainted Love*
Ruth Swann's Tainted Love is an incredible version of the Gloria Jones classic. The horns are bigger, the drums are tougher and the punch of both of those on this version was something we looked to for The Apology.
*NOTE - This version isn't on Spotify so Gloria Jones original features in the playlist above, Ruth Swann's version can be found on Youtube.
Smokey Robinson - Get Ready
ACDC - Whole Lotta Rosie
Get Ready by Smokey Robinson and Whole Lotta Rosie by ACDC were on my dial so much on a trip to Columbus, GA a few years ago. The almost lazy but pin point Smokey falsetto, against the rasp and unbelievable grit of Brian Johnson, really put me in the mood for writing What Happened To The Love. These two really helped through a tough tough time.
Aretha Franklin - Think
I've always thought that the intro to Aretha Franklin's Think works as an unsuspecting prelude to one of the baddest Aretha songs. It's like calm, calm.....calm and then BOOM!!!
The Sonics - Cinderella
I recently saw the Sonics perform Cinderella at Koko in London and can quite honestly say that it sounded as dirty, as heartfelt and as cruel as it ever had on record. It was a great reference point for the Slave To Your Love vocal.....albeit less the terror screams.
Taking Of Pelham 123 - Opening Titles*
The horns that are played on the opening title sequence to the original Taking Of Pelham 123, that were scored by David Shire in 1974, are some of the heaviest, most intense horns that have ever graced my ears. Always have had them as a reference within what we produce but nothing ever felt right until we were recording Hurt And The Merciless. In walked The Apology and that vibe seemed to resonate with a lot of the horn parts from that moment on.
*NOTE - The version featured on our playlist above is performed by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, you can find the original score on Youtube.
Shirley Ellis - The Handclapping Song
The Handclapping song by Shirley Ellis is so playful as a rhythm but makes a head nod to the point of aching. It will always be that way for me, any time I play it. Never will it cease to amaze and forever be a favourite amongst my blood and Heavy families.
Eddie Floyd - Big Bird
Big Bird by Eddie Floyd remains a top influence when we think soaring, screaming horn or guitar lines and a dirt that's achieved through driving amps or channels, without the use of pedals or plugins. Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers - Blow Your Whistle The swagger and confidence in the vocal on Blow Your Whistle by Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers........wow!!!! Working like a soul hype man through the entirety of the song, while the band sit tight on that super bad and unbelievable recurring riff. You can help but move to this and really encouraged the uptempo side for Hurt.
Chaka Khan - Ain't Nobody
A hip hop classic and a strong reference for Not The One. We were determined to honestly inject The Clash, Chic and the early 80's fusion of punk and disco into this one for sure. I think we really managed to play in that ballpark.
The video above is for lead single ‘Since You Been Gone’ a high-octane soul number with Motown horns and dirty guitars. It was directed by Focus Creeps (Arctic Monkeys, King Krule) and stars Thomas Turgoose (‘This Is England’) and Abigail Hardingham (‘Nina Forever’) as a couple in the throes of a break-up.
Hurt & The merciless Track List:
1. Since You Been Gone
2. What Happened To The Love?
3. Not The One
4. The Apology
5. Nobody’s Hero
6. Miss California
7. Turn Up
8. A Ghost You Can’t Forget
9. Last Confession
10. Mean Ol’ Man
11. Slave To Your Love
12. Goodbye Baby
April 17 Coachella Festival - Indio, CA
April 20 The Roxy - Los Angeles, CA
April 22 The Glasshouse (support for The Arcs) - Pomona, CA
April 24 Coachella Festival - Indio, CA
April 25 Velvet Jones - Santa Barbara, CA
April 26 The Independent - San Francisco, CA
April 27 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA
April 29 Bossanova Ballroom - Portland, OR
May 1 Neumos - Seattle, WA
May 2 Commodore Ballroom - Vancouver, BC
May 12 Academy 2 - Birmingham, UK
May 13 Academy 2 - Manchester, UK
May 14 University - Newcastle, UK
May 15 Oran Mor - Glasgow, UK
May 17 Heaven - London, UK
May 18 O2 Academy - Bristol, UK
May 20 Triz Club - Antwerp, Belgium
May 21 Melkweg - Amsterdam, Netherlands
May 22 Luxor - Cologne, Germany
May 23 Columbia Theater - Berlin, Germany
May 25 Mascotte - Zurich, Switzerland
May 26 Trabendo - Paris, France