For as long as I've been of concert-going age, I've been a Heavy Pets fan. You never knew what to expect at the shows -- and there were many, almost weekly performances. You could be met with sprawling jams or tight, catchy songs. The only certain thing was your dancing feet wouldn't get a break.
And because of that hard work (the group's, not yours) its notoriety in the jam community grew and grew so that now the Heavy Pets is a tour-hardened, well-rounded powerhouse. As a festival darling, it has opened for some of the biggest acts in the scene all while displaying its own unique sound.
After a long stint on the road, the Pets' homecoming involves a gig at the third anniversary party for Boca Raton's Funky Biscuit on Thursday July 24. This awesome little venue in a bit of an unlikely spot will spend the next three days in full jam, blues, and rock swing. The Biscuit has hosted many of the top jam bands in the country and has a very comforting vibe; we wish it well as it ages.
Guitarist and vocalist, Jeff Lloyd, chatted with us about what he's been up to lately, offered a bit of insight into why the band releases EPs instead of LPs, and shared some things it has in store for the near future.
New Times: You guys are very well-traveled, and work as hard as any other band out there. What have you guys been up to the last couple weeks?
Jeff Lloyd: We just got home last week, from a little two week run. We did three Phish after-parties, we also made out way to Rochester, NY, and then to Canada for the very first time to play the Illumination Festival, which we headlined on a Friday.
Then that Saturday, we headlined a pretty bangin' festival in Central Pennsylvania called the Luna Light Festival with some good friends of ours. Lettuce played right after us, Jimkata, Greenhouse Lounge, and Consider the Source. It was a fantastic festival, we had a lot of fun. Then we played a private party on Sunday, then came back to Florida.
The Heavy Pets have been a band for almost nine years now, and you guys got your start down here knocking out show after show, and now, you're playing festivals all over the country, getting a lot of press, and airplay on XM radio. How does it feel to achieve this level of popularity?
It's been fantastic! It certainly wasn't a straight line, a lot of ups and downs, as with anything you do for a period of time. As of right now, we're on a major upswing which is fantastic and it's a great feeling. I think that this point in our careers we're all pretty grateful to still be doing this, especially at the level we're doing. We're just real happy to still be doing this, to be playing music with our friends, driving around seeing new places, and meeting new people. It's a beautiful experience. We're going to be hitting a thousand shows sometime real soon.
This past year, you have released two EPs, Two Horses and Rags and Aces, and you also have plans to release a third before the year is up. What was the planning behind this? The benefits?
There have been so many little benefits, and we're finding more. When we talk to other bands, they're like, "Oh, man! That's awesome! If you don't mind, we're going to do that too."
First and foremost, as a creative thing, it allows us to crank out fresher material without having to worry about an album, you know we go out hammer the songs, and we still like them after we release it. We're not sick of it by the time we put it out, you know? It's allowed us to go from the writing of a song to recording it to releasing it immediately.
In terms of marketing, it gives us something to shout about every couple of months. Also, if you release a whole album, you're really lucky if people grab on to two or three songs, some may get lost in the shuffle, and releasing these EPs gives people a chance to listen to each song. It's working out that way. Sirius XM radio has pretty much been playing everything. I mean, we just made the process up, and it seems to be working pretty well.
After a long tour across the country, how's it feel to be able to come back home and play a special anniversary show for your Florida fans?
It's great, you know? We've been working on some material for a little while that I would have loved to play on this past tour, but it makes a lot of sense. And the Florida fans deserve to hear it first. So we're going to be busting some stuff out on Thursday, some brand new material, and some old stuff that hasn't seen the light of day in a long time.
I think it's only appropriate we're going to be giving it to Florida, back where it came from. It's going to be our big coming home show, at the Funky Biscuit for their third anniversary. For those who don't know, it's a gem, a wonderful jam venue in Boca Raton. It's just an amazing venue. They have fantastic sound and great people who have been great to us the last couple years. We're going to celebrate their birthday pretty much.
Are there any big shows or tours coming up in the near future?
On the 15th of August, we're heading up the the 45th anniversary of Woodstock in Yasgar Farms in Bethel, NY. Then we have Camp Barefoot in West Virginia on August 21.
Summertime is pretty much just festivals. We did just book some pretty awesome shows in Florida that I'm sure can't announce yet, but that will be around August, with one of our favorite bands. Then the school year starts all over the country, so we're going to resume our hard touring schedule during the fall, hitting all the college towns, driving everywhere. Also, we have Catskill Chill coming up, and then in the fall, Hulaween. We're real excited about all of it.
The Heavy Pets and Juke will be kicking off three days of the Funky Biscuit's Third Anniversary Party today, Thursday, July 24. Tickets range from $10 to $25. The Funky Biscuit is located at 303 SE Mizner Blvd, Royal Palm Pl., Boca Raton. Visit funkybiscuit.com.
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