Interview: The Heavy North

The Heavy North are a garage rock/blues rock band from Liverpool that formed in 2018. They released their first two singles in November of that year, “Don’t You Wait For Me” and “The Night Don’t Give No Love”.  They have played shows in cities all over the north of England like Manchester, Leeds, and Blackpool.

Last summer has been a great year as far as live performances go because they played the Liverpool International Music Festival and gave a sold out headliner performance at Jimmy’s. They’ve also opened for Temples (a favourite band of mine), Saint Agnes, and Cut Glass Kings.

The band’s lineup are Kenny Stuart on vocals and guitar, Jose Ibanez on lead guitar, Andrew Horrocks on bass, Ste Penn on keyboards/organ, and Mark Rice on drums/percussion.

You can listen to their most recent single, “Lying To Yourself”, which was released May 4, below:

We at Crazy On Classic Rock are lucky to have the band with us for an interview. If you want to learn more about them, keep on reading:

Angie Moon: Tell me about yourselves, who are the Heavy North and how did you get started?

The Heavy North: The Heavy North are Kenny Stuart (singer/guitarist), Jose Ibanez (Guitarist/Producer), Andrew Horrocks (Bass Guitar), Ste Penn (Keys), and Mark Rice (Drums & Percussion), and we started playing music together in Summer 2018.

We’ve all played in different bands around Liverpool before meeting each other at Jose’s recording studio in Liverpool, so when a few of our previous projects went separate ways we thought we’d get together and see how things sounded.

A lot of our music was originally crafted around Kenny’s voice, and after a few studio sessions our sound started to come together as a bluesy garage rock. We’ve been described as playing “dive bar blues” which we think sums it up quite well, and we try let the music speak for itself.

Angie: What blues and garage rock bands are your biggest influences?

The Heavy North: Between us we have quite a broad music taste, but some bands who’ve influenced our sound include the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath – but definitely some more modern acts like the Black Keys, Jack White, Rival Sons. We all bring something different to the mix, and its works really well when we’re writing or recording.

Angie: What are your live shows like?

The Heavy North: We’ve been lucky to have built a really strong following in the North West of England – even from the early days since our first show in Manchester in November 2018 – so you can expect our live shows to be busy and normally hot and sweaty!

Both Jose and Mark are very production-minded too, which helps when it comes to getting the best sound and at a live show – both on and off stage. We try to recreate our studio sound as much as we can when we play live and get the most out of our equipment whilst keeping the energy and the atmosphere of a ‘proper’ gig. 

Angie: What was writing and recording “Lying To Yourself” like?

The Heavy North: “Lying to Yourself” started off as a guitar riff idea which Jose shared, and this later became Andy’s bass line for the track. Because we rehearse in Jose’s studio, we were able to capture our ideas and we soon realised this was one of our tracks we wanted to release as a single.

The lyrics for Lying To Yourself were recently described as “lyrically introspective”, and it’s essentially about those people who are struggling and can often lose their way and get swept up in the partying lifestyle. It’s about telling them that you’re there for them when they need you most.

Angie: How has the single been received so far?

The Heavy North: We’ve been blown away by the response to “Lying To Yourself”, and we’ve had some great support from local and national BBC Radio as well as some fantastic recent press coverage and reviews.

We released a few singles since November 2018, but we feel “Lying To Yourself” has definitely taken the band to the next level and helped us reach some new audiences. 

Angie: What is the music scene like in Liverpool?

The Heavy North: Liverpool doesn’t need much introduction when it comes to music, but there’s a really vibrant scene at the moment. Although the past few years has sadly seen a lot of great independent venues close in the city, there’s a a great well-established community of promoters, bands, blogs and labels across Liverpool who continue to deliver the goods – and we’ve been lucky to work with lots of them over the past year or so.

Angie: What was it like to play LIMF last year?

The Heavy North: Amazing! It was our first festival show and was held Liverpool’s Sefton Park, and considering we’d only played a handful of shows it was great to be involved alongside of the best bands from across the region. LIMF definitely helped to get our name out there as we had hundreds of people watching us in the summer sun!

Angie: What have you been listening to lately?

Kenny: Loads of Peter Green recently, and as far as local bands go there’s a boss Liverpool band called The Cubical who we’ve played with a few times. 

Jose: Rival Sons are amazing – and there’s a new local band called Tree House Collective who have some tunes on Spotify.

Andrew: I’ve been listening to the new stuff from Vulfpeck, and a local one I’m listening to at the moment is Studio Electronique.

Ste: I’ve been hammering The Black Keys a lot, especially last year’s album Lets Rock. There’s also Cut Glass Kings who we’ve recently supported recently who are quality.

Mark: I’ve been listening to a lot of Gaslight Anthem recently, but there’s also a boss band called Shredd from Glasgow who are great.

Angie: Tell me about the upcoming EP, what are your plans for it?

The Heavy North: We’ve released 5 singles as The Heavy North over the past 18 months which are all available on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube – but we feel it’s time to release our debut EP which will be available on limited edition vinyl later this year, and will include some new tracks as well as some of our previous releases.

Angie: What do you like best about vinyl?

The Heavy North: We’re all fans of vinyl and the physical format, and especially when you’ve got limited editions or numbered vinyl which is why we want to offer our fans something special with this upcoming EP.

There’s definitely a charm to holding something in your hands, appreciating the artwork and knowing that there’s only so many of them in the world – and we hope to bring a little bit of that to our fans later this year with this limited release.

Angie: What are your goals as a band?

The Heavy North: Although we’ve each got our own goals and thoughts about what we want to get out of the band, we all share some common goals for the near future – including writing and recording our debut album, playing our own headline tours across the UK and Europe and hopefully having a laugh along the way.

Angie: Any words for your fans?

The Heavy North: Whether you’ve only just discovered The Heavy North, or you’re someone who’s followed the band from the beginning – thank you, we really appreciate the support. Tell your friends, spread the word, and even if you introduce one other person to our music you’ll be helping us to reach out to new audiences.

You can follow The Heavy North on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Shoutout to my friends Patrick and Matt for supporting the blog!

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