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Heavy Water Experiments interview

http://www.reviewermagazine.com/heavywaterexperiments-int.html

[Next Big Thing]

Heavy Water Experiments

REVIEWER MAGAZINE interview

by Kim Acrylic

REVIEWER: So I have to ask what’s the story behind your band name?

Heavy Water Experiments: The name refers to early nuclear experimentation during and after WWII. “Heavy water” is an isotope-enriched form of water, which greatly increases the hydrogen-oxygen bond in water. For us, the name has a nicely appropriate apocalyptic ring to it and fits our sound and vibe very well. I hope your readers will agree.

REVIEWER: When did you know rock music was what you wanted to do for a career?

HWE: When I was in sixth grade (and had taken up the bass), but of course, I had to suppress this instinct for many years before it would resurface with a vengeance during my college years. I was most specifically inspired during music listening sessions (with their attendant partying) I put together with small groups of friends in the San Diego mountains as well as in makeshift tents I would construct at home during that period of my life.

REVIEWER: Anything in your life drastically influenced your sound or lyrics?

HWE: Aside from rock influences during my most impressionable years, I wonder if the passive, at-home experience of often hearing my father playing several piano works by Ravel and Debussy cultivated my attraction to darker, minor key oriented music. I am not sure I can account for why my lyrics should take on more melancholic subjects—I did not have a traumatic childhood. But, of course, such topics agree with the darker music supporting them!

REVIEWER: What’s the weirdest fan story you have?

HWE: Well, one of our most devoted fans actually used to play drums in the band for a short time. He’s a really good guy, but he’s just a little out on the edge—especially when he parties. At a recent gig in Hollywood, which was a charity event, he got his hands on the microphone before we went on stage and went into a rant about how everyone needs to leave the country as soon as possible since we’ll be entering into martial law soon! The event turned into something a three-ringed circus for us, and, in a way, he was the ringleader. This is more amusing as a memory, of course. Fortunately, we still managed to play well and impress people.

REVIEWER: Do you believe this is the band for you and that you will stay around along time?

HWE: I’ve attempted different projects over the years (and changed their names too). I’ve been running this particular project for some years now, and, it too, has undergone its own evolution. Nevertheless, it is able encapsulate everything I want to do with music, and I really like the “look” of the whole package. Band members have come and gone, but the vision remains intact. Regardless, the music just keeps getting better and better—that’s the most important thing.

REVIEWER: Whom would you most like to tour with?

HWE: We can fit well with so many different bands, but, at the same time, there probably isn’t a single band out there now we really sound like. I think we’re too heavy at times to support Radiohead, and but, at the same time, we’re not consistently aggressive enough to support QOTSA (hence, our use of the description “Radio Queens of the Stone Head”). On a smaller scale, we’d probably acquire a lot of new fans if we toured with the Swedish band Dungen — one of the few admirable bands out there whom we’ve come across.

REVIEWER: What is your biggest goal as a band for 2009?

HWE: Getting back out on tour—ideally overseas. Our last tour (UK/Holland/Belgium) was in late 2006, so we’re really due for another one. This is a big goal, and we can’t be sure at this point if it’ll happen. Making a tour into a profitable enterprise is no easy task in the current climate of the music industry! We also need to get a decent label behind us if we want to continue. I don’t believe it is really possible to achieve a full-time career as an unsigned/independent act. A band must ultimately have promotional muscle to succeed, and word-of-mouth is just too slow a process—on a global scale, that is.

REVIEWER: Tell me about your most humbling moment as a musician?

HWE: We will never forget the fiasco of our last self-organized, illegal music festival in the California desert. The local authorities forced us to move to a different location at the last minute. By the time we got on-stage, we were missing a band member, and, regardless, we were not in a good state of mind to perform well after all the hassle we endured. No more illegal desert festivals for us!

REVIEWER: Worst fear?

HWE: Not being able to achieve a career through my music. It’s not that I require artistic recognition in the form of money — it’s really that I cannot see myself being truly content pursuing my present career alternatives. I’m sure this sentiment is pretty common among musicians — even when they are not songwriters or composers.

REVIEWER: How did you guys get together?

HWE: Roberto, our drummer, joined the band not long before our last overseas tour in late 2006. He was found using on-line classifieds. He has since become my artistic partner in this project. We took a long hiatus from live performance to record two albums together, the first of which you know and the second of which will be released next year. Roberto invited his friend Rick to join, who played bass with us at that last desert festival and who, more recently, came back when we were ready to play out again. We met our keyboard player more recently Rebecca through mutual friends. She has only been with us a short time, but our recent live shows have gone really well, and she really adds personality to the band.

REVIEWER: How important is it that you connect with the crowd whilst performing?

HWE: Having at least one extroverted presence in the band (out front) really helps in engaging the crowd. Rebecca is far more extroverted than I am, so it’s nice to have her there to engage with the audience when I am less inclined to chat it up between songs. Confidence on stage cannot really be forced, but, in any case, audiences feed on it perhaps more than anything else at a live show.

REVIEWER :If you could have dinner with a dead rock star, who would it be and why?

HWE: Nick Drake. His artistic soul—what he seemed naturally inclined to communicate while he was alive—really speaks to me. But he never really was a rock star, so then I’d choose Jim Hendrix. If you watch the Rainbow Bridge footage of him just hanging out with random hippies in Hawaii toward the end of his life, you can tell he was really down to earth. (I am also reminded of a photo I saw of him actually eating his dinner at Alfredo’s Restaurant in Rome—the waiter there told me Hendrix was actually rolling a joint in that moment, though I could only affirm the plate of pasta in front of him!)

REVIEWER: What’s the most challenging thing during your whole musical process?

HWE: In terms of recordings, I would say mixing. It is very difficult to reach that point where you feel all the tracks are meshing as best as they possibly can and that you can go no further. And I say this through the experience of composing all the parts, performing all these parts (except drums) myself, singing, editing, and finally mixing. A really good way to make the mixing process smoother is to give near-final mixes to a group of friends whose listening ears you respect and then get their critiques. Once you are able to collate all their various opinions, it really helps to give you more perspective on your own work—before it’s too late to make changes!

REVIEWER: Any major tours news coming up for you guys anytime soon?

HWE: As I said, we really need to get back on tour again next year. I wish I could say we knew where we’ll be touring exactly—the US or overseas. At this point, unfortunately, it is still very uncertain. On a general note, I deem this time we are in to be more difficult for undiscovered bands than any time in the past. This is a complex issue—best not treated at length here.

REVIEWER: Also, how does growing up in the places you did inspire your music?

HWE:I grew up in South Pasadena—a very quaint suburb of Los Angeles with its own village-like feel that is unique for its many trees and foothills. I still live there. My parents’ old house in the hills used to offer a perfect view of the rugged San Gabriel mountain range. I suppose this convenient daily glimpse of a sublime, romantic landscape could have inspired my interest in more “sublime” musical moods than, say, light-hearted ones.

REVIEWER: What’s your favorite song on the album, and which one would you recommend people check out?

HWE: My favorite mix is probably the track Oracles — just for the way it seems to gel. But this isn’t to say I’d recommend this track to people first since it is more of a mellower vibe. The most radio-friendly track is probably Anodyne. The heaviest track is probably “Otherland”. It is a very eclectic album, so people so far are responding differently to individual tracks.

REVIEWER: Anything you would like to say to reviewer readers?

HWE:I would like to express my deepest respect toward readers of Reviewer and similar magazines that are passionate about the underground and about bands striving for sounds that are not necessarily in keeping with mainstream trends. Sadly, most of these bands will not achieve professional careers through music and so will be hard-pressed to stay afloat for long. Magazines like Reviewer give such bands at least a sense of hope—since these magazines and their readers affirm there is, indeed, a thriving interest in underground music. THANK YOU!!!

KA

http://heavywaterexperiments.com
http://myspace.com/heavywaterexperiments

Interview by Kim Acrylic for reviewer magazine, November, 2008

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