Monday, February 3, 2014


When The Heavy Guilt play, they often have to win over the crowd. And there are a few reasons why that might be the case. It's not often a band's central lyricist will sit in the middle of the stage, holding a saw blade, after he's slapped chains in time atop a small table, and wait for the moment to punctuate a break in the sound. And it's pretty rare a band's bassist will change out from traditional shoulder strap bass guitar to a stand up, and then back again, in order to get the perfect sound. And, well, it's unheard of to be informed a band's merchandise is available for whatever someone wants to pay. And the regulars at the Irish pub in Ocean Beach took their sweet time to be won. They fancied 80s pop music, and wondered why noise from the other end of the bar dared interfere with plasma screens showing half naked men rolling around in panties (UFC). Slowly, building, the crowd covered the floor immediately in front of The Heavy Guilt. We watched the floor disappear as The Heavy Guilt woo'd drinkers who swayed toward the stage. I happened to bring along my piece of shit camera, and I found the lighting to match perfectly The Heavy Guilt's avant-garde rock feel. What follows is a checalaTUBE webisode, THE HEAVY GUILT LIVE SHADOW PLAY, recorded raw. They're a band worth your time, and I hope you'll make the effort to see them live. True to form, The Heavy Guilt's lead singer, Erik Canzona, generously answered some basic questions about himself and the band part of a local renaissance in music. And I mean it.      

Where are you from?
Erik Canzona (guitar, vocals): I'm from the Southside of Chicago. We lived in the Marquette Park area my whole life and even though I've been gone for over ten years now, that neighborhood will always be home. 

How did music come to you growing up?
I was raised Catholic. Went to a Catholic grammar school and high school. So when the band settled on the name The Heavy Guilt, I instantly understood. I never really took college seriously. I went to night classes, but not 'til I moved out West did I decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. My degree is in graphic design, which I find extremely helpful as a member of an independent band. For the first few years out of high school I worked for the railroad, loading and unloading trailers. A lot of time was spent in dive bars and clubs that had live music. My love of music comes from my parents. I can't remember a time when there wasn't music playing in our house. I grew up listening to my parents records. Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Talking Heads, The Who, etc... As much as I loved the music from their generation, I was definitely a child of the 90s. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, REM, Alice and Chains, among others, changed my life. The only things that I can cringe now for listening to then were the radio hits of the early 90s. Crash Test Dummies, Chumbawomba and the like. I, naively, listened to a lot of radio back then.
When people ask me about you, I describe your vocal sound as if Dave Matthews had a love child with Cat Stevens.
Everyone hears something different. That's a compliment, I think. People always want to label music. Whether it's alternative or indie garage experimental rock, whatever. I don't know what any of it means or if any of the descriptions are right or wrong. All I know is that the five of us have very different tastes in music, and I think it's those influences combined that make our sound. 

The lyrics are haunting.
The first thing that drew me to what would become this band was Al Howard's lyrics. With the amount of material he's sitting on, I think we could be putting out records forever. Not only were Al's lyrics incredible, but I soon learned that Josh Rice had written some of the most beautiful and heart breaking songs I'd ever heard. Al writes all of the lyrics, and aside from a handful of songs that Sean and I have written, Josh remains the main songwriter. Sometimes the lyrics are already written when we create a song. But lately, everyone has been writing music, and Al writes the lyrics after. It's not so much a process as all of us sitting around and playing different songs to see what works.

How did you make your way into The Heavy Guilt?
I had never been in a band or been on stage until this band formed. It's something I always thought about but never made the leap to do until now. When my wife Jess and I first moved to San Diego we quickly checked out the local music scene. And one of the bands that stood out to me was the K23 Orchestra. It wasn't so much the musicianship, even though they had a great band, as it was Al's lyrics. When they broke up, I knew that Al and Josh were looking to start a new project with a bunch of acoustic songs they'd written together. So I emailed them, and the rest is history. I knew that Josh and Al wanted it to be their "project", as in they would write the songs and I would perform them live. I think 7 years on the road with their last band was an influence in that decision. I really had no interest in doing solo shows. I wanted to be a part of a band. And after we recorded our first album as a six piece, we all knew that that was what The Heavy Guilt was. After three years of working together and playing countless shows, I feel like we've finally found our sound. It's an exciting time for the Guilt.


No comments:

Post a Comment