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Interview with The Heavyweights Brass Band
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
It was really a strong middle school band program that got me into music. I know that’s true of most members of the Heavyweights. I can’t really imagine myself doing anything else with my life!
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I teach, but that’s music too. I enjoy reading and basketball, but the biggest influence on my creativity has been the birth of my son. He’s a real inspiration.
How long has your band been around?
The Heavyweights Brass Band has been active for about 12 years.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
The band is based in Toronto. So many amazing musicians and cultures in the city have a huge influence on the group.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
The name was given to the band by a friend who plays bass. He asked who was coming over for rehearsal and he said “oh…the heavyweights!” Given all the heavy metal on stage, the name seemed perfect.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
There have been so many! Certainly opening for The Roots and Trombone Shorty stand out. Recently we played in Tofino and we’ve been trying to get to their festival for years. The crowd was electric and it will certainly be an experience we’ll remember forever.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Right now our home away from home is an amazing venue called Drom Taberna. So much great music happens there and it’s become a real cultural hub in the city of Toronto. We’d really like to spend time touring in Europe. We were working on that just before Covid hit.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Locally, it would be great to collaborate with Shad on a project sometime. We got to collaborate with some great New Orleans-based musicians, but connecting with Jon Batiste would be incredible!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
The best advice you could give is listen to a lot of music and copy what you love! Learn a tradition and don’t be afraid to reach out to musicians you love.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Probably just to relax and keep working on your craft. You’ll have amazing opportunities if you keep working towards your dreams.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
To pick one song is kind of tough. Our “This City” record is pretty special because we recorded it in New Orleans and collaborated with so many amazing guest musicians on it.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
We’re having a lot of fun right now with our newest material (tunes like Fake It and Stir Crazy) and working out a tight stage show highlighting tunes from all our records.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
It really changes a lot. We often have someone bring a piece to rehearsal that is mostly done and then we workshop it to help polish the final arrangement. Right now we’ve been talking a lot in general terms about the type of tempos, grooves and vibes we want to add to our set.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
We want people to know that instrumental brass music is fun, danceable and creative. We want people to know that we are inspired by a grand tradition of Black American Music coming out of New Orleans that is thriving and vibrant as can be.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Of course. But the group is quite open and we are all great friends. We often have passionate discourse and can have conflicting views, but we all care about each other and talk things through. We’ll put things to a vote at times when we just need to make a decision and move forward.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We have a few new digital releases from our “Marigold Sessions” that will be coming out soon that will have connected video content coming out on our YouTube channel. Right now we’re working on plans for bringing the band to Europe and Central and South America.