On their third full length album Swim Out Past the Sun, Fort Lauderdale’s The Heavy Pets return to their acoustic roots as THP’s guitar duo set aside their electric axes for a more organic approach. Featuring a three song sit-in by longtime Jerry Garcia collaborator David Grisman, the album presents a fresh perspective from the ever-evolving South Florida-based quintet. "Swim Out Past the Sun" was produced and recorded by multi-platinum, Grammy and Oscar Award-winner Scott Mathews and mastered by Grammy Award-winner Vlado Meller. Its cover art was contributed by celebrated American painter, Mark T. Smith. Glide caught up Heavy Pets guitarist Jeff Lloyd at the 3rd annual Stir Fry Music Revival.
What opportunities does playing a festival give the band as opposed to playing club shows?
There are many advantages, really. Every band there is bringing their own fans, so we get the chance to play in front of a lot of fresh faces. It’s kinda the whole point. The other clear opportunity presented is that of collaborations. With so many talented people hanging around, we get a chance to do something unique onstage with sit-ins. After doing this festival "circuit" now for the better part of 5 years, we are in a position where we can at least ask some of the musicians that we have looked up to from the start if they would like to sit-in. We are no longer just the kids drinking all the beer at the artist hospitality tent, now we are actually getting some recognition from the other artists for the work that we do. It is a great feeling. And we still drink all the beer.
What are some other bands you were looking forward to seeing at Stir Fry?
I loved seeing Yellow Dubmarine. They do reggae renditions of Beatles tunes: excellent reggae band playing some of the best songs ever written it doesn’t get much better than that. I missed Psychedelphia and Dumpstaphunk due to the weather but they were on my hot list. Also, I felt like a fan as well as a performer playing with Steve Kimock – I mean I was just in awe of his sound and how he used it with our tunes. What an experience!
How many shows did you guys play last year? Would you rather play more or less, or was that a good amount?
I would have t go back and look but I think around 160. Like I say everyday, "I didn’t wake up today to NOT play music" I normally get stir crazy when I am home for more than a few days, but now we have our own studio in Delray Beach. It is really a dream come true for us. We are self-producing another album right now (Jan 2012) and it’s become hard to leave for tour when we are really hitting in the studio. Our production chops are really building right now so we are aiming to split our touring and recording time up a little better. So, less shows next year – lets go from 160 to 150, haha.
Your new album, Swim Out Past The Sun is due Oct 22, what can you say about this new recording?
We are super pumped about this record! It is a whole new look from us. It’s an acoustic record – acoustic guitars, pianos, upright bass, and drums – but it still rocks. We had David Grisman come and play mandolin on three tracks. He slays it. It is an honor to have him on the record and it was a tremendous inspiration to get to record with him. We are most excited just to share this record with the world. It is our most cohesive piece and our finest effort to date. There are some really great tunes on it, and I think it is really going to resonate with a lot of people.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while making this album?
The biggest challenge was deciding what to cut from it. Not only tunes but layers of instruments and voices, too. We wanted to strip it down and really let the tunes shine, and we got there. We were working with the Grammy winning producer/engineer team of Scott Mathews and Tom Luekens, so the normal organizational burden we have when recording was not our responsibility. We got to focus on our performances in the studio instead of worrying about all that needed to be done, so that was really refreshing.
What Heavy Pets show stands out most in your mind?
Oh fun. We do this as a band at the end of every year. We call it the JOTY awards, and we laugh about doing it like some stuffy, ass grabbing awards show. We all put in our picks for the Hillary Rodham Clinton Show of the Year (SOTY) the Samuel L. Jackson Jam of the Year (JOTY) or the Ladybird Johnson Sit in of the Year (SIOTY), etc. This year, I would say highlights were our 10/1 Stir Fry set with Kimock, Our 9/23 Buffalo show, or for the JOTY any number of jams from one of our Key West appearances. That place seems to bring out the best in us.
What is one album or song you secretly love that you will only reveal to us at Glide Magazine?
How about Death Cab for Cutie – " Will Follow You Into the Dark."
What do you think is the best movie soundtrack?
Ooh – I love what RZA did with the Kill Bill soundtracks. And Jon Brion killed it with the I Heart Huckabees soundtrack too. And of course The Big Lebowski... ’nuff said.
What do you like the most about the fall season?
Traditionally – pie. Apple, Pumpkin… gimme, gimme. Now, I live in Florida so it isn’t the same, but it does get gorgeous here in the Fall. The heat breaks and you get a cool breeze, and I can actually stand going to the beach. My folks still live in NY and I spend so much time on the road anyway I get to feel the seasons change like eight times a year. I get to swim in a lake, I get my pie, I get to help shovel the driveway, I get to ski, and if my timing is right I get to help my folks deck out the house for the holidays.
The one thing I could never live without while on the road is my…………..????
My guitar, haha. After that, and as lame as it is, my computer and our MiFi card. We get so caught up doing what we do, and it is my only way of staying connected with those that I love whom I never get to spend enough time with. I get to connect with family and friends while we are cruising up I-95. It’s priceless. Oh and socks – I always bring tons and tons of socks. I usually buy a couple dozen pairs of cheapies before every tour. Fresh socks are like currency amongst my band-mates on the road – it’s the sock standard.