Photo by Matthew Dwyer
For being a stripped-down, three-piece band that seems to have a phobia of playing four minutes straight, noisy Milwaukee project Heavy Hand is anything but typical. For one, two members are married to one another. The rhythm section formerly belonged to the cast of a different band with few – if any – similarities in sound to the new pet project. Its songs have names like “Inspired By Haircuts,” “I wanna pet those pets” and various things we’re not allowed to type here.
Formed in summer of 2011 and nearly a year removed from it first show, Heavy Hand has quickly earned favorable attention in the local music scene through blistering live shows on both land and sea, an effortless approach hinging on fun and filthy lyrics and just plain enjoyable songs. With Heavy Hand slated to release its debut EP this weekend, Music Notes sat down with the entire band to talk about its origin, its unique songwriting philosophy, the connection to marriage and music, and highlights of the first year of Heavy Hand shows.
Would you walk me through the origin of the band?
Anthony Weber, vocals/guitar: Well, I was dating this girl at the time [motions in the direction of Carini]. We’re married now. And …
Isa Carini, bass: He’d gotten me a bass for Christmas because I’d been interested. But it was something that he thought I wouldn’t buy for myself, which at the time was pretty true. I learned how to play bass and we started dicking around.
AW: Yeah, we were dicking around a little bit, and Chris got all excited and asked to be a part of it.
Chris Roberts, drums: I said, “If you have songs written, let me know, and I’ll play drums for you.”
IC: We figured it’d be easier because Chris and I had played together in The Scarring Party and I feel kind of like the bass-drum relationship is a very important thing to work out. You know, if there’s no basement, there’s no house. That made shit a lot easier.
AW: I want to say that we all approached this with not very high expectations either, but it ended up being pretty awesome, so we just kept going with it.
I know this is a lame thing to ask, but as a relatively new act how would you explain your band in terms of sound and influences?
CR: I think we were all looking for something that would scratch a particular itch. I feel like we all have similar music taste as far as rock and stuff goes. I mean, I hadn’t played in a rock band for a while, so it was kind of an exciting prospect.
IC: I had never played in a rock band.
AW: Usually when people ask what we sound like, I say The Thermals meets The Minute Men meets Kindercore records.
CR: It wasn’t really discussed too much.
AW: Yeah, we write all the songs at practice.
IC: It’s not like, “I’m going to work on this for three hours then bring it to practice.” That wasn’t really the goal, it was more like, to have fun and not take it super seriously because there are enough people doing that who aren’t doing anything interesting, to be perfectly honest. Not to say that you shouldn’t work on your craft, but if you’re practicing your banter and saying, “We should have this look” what’s the point?
AW: Literally, every song was written in about the amount of time it took to play the song. It’s kind of plug in, go, see if it works and that’s about it. We invest time into it, but it’s more shoot from the hip with it.
IC: That’s kind of the whole point of it, to not be super serious about it, but take those influences you have and know what you can make fun of.
That seems to show in the names of your songs, too. Is that something you did intentionally to be funny or did it just end up that way?
AW: You know, it’s not like it’s funny. We’re not telling jokes, but for us, it’s hilarious. And we’re very radio-unfriendly too. A lot of our lyrics are really filthy. I say some pretty horrible things in them. There’s some thought to it, but it’s definitely not trying to take itself seriously. The song titles as well.
Having left a band that’s vastly different, what were you looking to get out of this band that you didn’t in the last? What was the motivation for the musical about-face?
IC: Well, playing a different instrument. Trying something new. The themes [between Heavy Hand and Scarring Party] aren’t too far off really. It’s still got that type of cynical humor; it’s just presented in a different way. The songwriting worked a lot differently in this band. Just being able to get it out in different ways, but a lot of the [Heavy Hand] songs are only two minutes long, which is funny. Not that the songs can’t be longer than that, but ideally, the song will just be a punch in the cock.
What’s it like to be in a band with your spouse?
IC: Awesome. I never thought that I’d want to be in a band with someone I was romantically involved with, but if you really break it down and look at bands that have that going on, the ones that end up in a flaming mess, it usually stems from your relationship outside that. If you have a really good relationship and support each other creatively, it’s just awesome. We’re going to hang out at home, then come down and have practice and Chris will come over.
And Chris, what’s it like to be in a band with spouses?
CR: So far, so good. We haven’t really done much touring, so you know.
With a year of shows under your belt, what are some of the highlights of the band so far?
AW: Playing on a boat was awesome.
IC: We did a show with Celebrated Workingman on The Vista King. We were like, “This could go very well or very poorly.”
And people are stuck. They can’t just walk out of the place.
IC: Yeah, people can try to get as far away from you as they can, but, no, we just had such a good time. And the two bands are buddies of ours, so we had a really good time.
AW: There’s a bunch of really awesome bands in town and we’ve been able to play with all of them. To me, that’s the most exciting thing. They’re really good and they’re letting us play with them.
Heavy Hand celebrates the release of Confusion Is Body Parts with a show at Cactus Club on Saturday, which also features Crappy Dracula and Little Otik. Stream or purchase the band’s debut EP on its Bandcamp page.