Of the many acts to come out of Central New York, The Heavy Pets have risen to headlining acts at festivals nationwide amid a consistent touring schedule. Rising from Syracuse University a decade ago and taking their talents to Miami, the quartet has regularly returned to the Northeast with a great response from fans. Johnny Goff talked to Jeff Lloyd before the shows this weekend in Syracuse (The Westcott, 11/30) and Buffalo (Nietzche’s, 12/1) as well as a Phish post show at Rebel in NYC on 12/30.
Johnny Goff: So Jeff, if you could, Can you indulge our readers with a brief history of The Heavy Pets, who have roots in Upstate NY.
Jeff Lloyd: Well, Guitarist Mike Garulli and I have been playing music together, he and I, since we met, in high school, in a little town called Goshen, NY, where we both grew up. We’ve played under various bands w/ various names since that time but it really all started in Goshen. My mother is the music teacher there and Mike and I used to be the two guys who brought their guitars to school and kind of played to kids during lunch break and like that. We both kind of had our own little crowds so we decided ‘why not combine them’ and we’ve been playing music together ever since. Then I went to Syracuse NY for college and played in a band and that’s where we met Jim Wuest, our keyboardist, and we brought him into the fold and with that came a lot of great tunes and a whole vast array of knowledge of other kinds of music that neither Mike or I had been previously introduced to. So that added a whole other element and Jim, Mike and I have been playing music together ever since.
JG: And this all kept going til after college?
JL: After college, we decided to move to Florida and start a band and do it the right way. Our original bass player for The Heavy Pets had started an internet marketing company that really took off so we decided to use the opportunity of a good job in South Florida to start fresh and we basically just, from day one, used that job as a rouse to save up enough money to be in a band full-time. It took a couple of years and we had started the Heavy Pets in the meantime and it allowed us to basically quit our jobs and focus on this full time. And so, that’s how we were able to focus solely on The Heavy Pets and being full-time musicians. And The Heavy Pets, despite having roots in Upstate NY, we are a Florida band. That’s where we started and that’s where we call home. But it’s nice, because NY has always been our home and our home away from home at the same time. When we are here, we get to see our families and when we are on the road, it’s always nice to be able to look forward to our east coast swings where we know we’ll be able to see our families and friends.
JG: So, how does that work with your touring focus? Whether or not you tour in the Southeast vs. the Northeast or vs. out West in Colorado? Where are your pockets of fanbase?
JL: We really don’t have a commitment to anywhere. We have a commitment to Everywhere. So we try to play as many places as we can. But we obviously try to tour the Northeast as much as possible. The Northeast is where we have connections and know people and we’ve been touring the Interstate 95, so I’ve spent as much time here at my home in Upstate NY as I do at my home in South Florida. Two of the guys in the Heavy Pets are from Goshen and the other three are from the Philadelphia area so we all get to see our families quite a bit. In fact, we are all visiting our families right now. (as of interview time on Wednesday, 11/28/12) so it works out really well for us.
JG: So how does your Florida home and Upstate NY roots jive with any shows you guys have coming up?
JL: So we basically a lot of December off in Florida and we have this one week left up here with shows in Boston, Northhampton, Syracuse and Buffalo and we’re really excited about this week right now. But then we go home and we have 2 weeks in Florida, where we’re not off, but we’re gonna be home and doing some private events and a corporate gig. But the main reason for us being home in Florida is to practice and rehearse and we’re gonna do another EP. We just released an EP called “Everywhere Sessions Volume 1”. The whole idea behind that is us being in a studio playing live, in a natural setting. But, it’s in a studio, and we’re just getting some great takes of our songs being played live. We basically played each song twice and in every situation, the second time just came out money. And that’s what the “Everywhere Sessions” is. We went from this whole idea where we were making these albums where we were working with this fantastic producer out in California and adding all these bells and whistles but this is really a little more natural. This is us. This is kind of, the way, we would always want to do things.
JG: Would you say this approach is getting back to your roots?
JL: Well, yeah. Actually, We’re really getting back to what we’ve always wanted to do: And that is go in to a studio and pound out some great recordings where we get to show people who are we as a band live on stage but in a studio setting. So we’re gonna go home and try to record another EP and try to release that right around Christmas time. Also, we’ve been working on these videos that kind of correspond to the “Everywhere Sessions.” I can’t get into it too much but the previous videos were us driving around in a van and talking about various subjects and then playing songs that in some way, relate to the topic we were just talking about. But we’re gonna be expanding that idea by taking us out of the van and putting us into some different kinds of settings where we show “us just being us”, you know? We’re just trying to show people who we really are. I think our greatest assets is ourselves so we just want to try to show people us being real.
The Johnny-5: Five fun questions for Jeff Lloyd of The Heavy Pets
1) JG: Top 3 deserted island albums?
JL: Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest, Paul Simon – Rhythm of The Saints, Jimi Hendrix – Band of Gypsies
2) JG: Worst job you’ve ever had?
JL: Boston Market in high school.
3) JG: Your Secret indulgence?
JL: Watching the NY Giants
4) JG: Any Place in world you’d want to visit before you die?
JL: The Great Pyramids in Egypt
5) JG: Name any Musician (dead or alive) you’d most want to play with?
JL: Frank Zappa or Bob Dylan