IT’S finally arrived.
Following a frustrating, protracted delay in vinyl manufacturing, Liverpool’s THE HEAVY NORTH today release their 10-track debut album, ‘Electric Soul Machine,’ and for once the hype is fully justified.
In fact, in all honesty, the build-ups euphoric expectations quite simply haven’t gone anywhere near far enough.
The six-piece garage, blues rock band finished the album last August, but such is the global demand for vinyl, it only sees the light of day today.
And it’s a mature, polished affair which transports the listener into the promised land – and there it holds them hostage from a glorious opening, right through to the closing sounds of the stunning, ‘As Long As You’re Here With Me.’
At times austere, at times a beautiful, meticulous symphony, ‘Electric Soul Machine’ is drenched in brilliance.
“When ‘The Heavy North’ first started in late 2018, our music was described as ‘dive bar blues’ by a local gig reviewer,” said Ste Penn (keys). “And we liked it that much, we used the ‘Dive Bar Blues’ for the title of our debut 4-track EP we released exclusively on 12″ numbered vinyl in 2020.
“We would broadly describe our sound as garage, blues rock, but we’ve also been described as having a ‘soul’ sound – which is partly why the album is titled ‘Electric Soul Machine.’
There’s a wealth of sounds, influences, to enjoy throughout the album with the band elsewhere likened to all manner of artists and genres, but that’s too easy, too lazy. Theirs is a distinctive sound, lightly sprinkled with that of their contemporaries for sure, but ultimately a work and a sound all of their own
“I would say we are influenced by some of the classics like the Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Them, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Pink Floyd to name a few,” explains vocalist Kenny Stuart, “and some soul and Motown artists like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.
“But more modern bands who have influenced our sound include Queens of The Stone Age, The Black Keys, Rival Sons, Jack White, Band Of Skulls and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.”
Lockdown had vastly differing effects on the music community. Some struggled in isolation, others quickly sought out collaborations and released music online to an eager, and appreciative audience.
For their part, ‘The Heavy North’ powered through those dark times, using that sense of isolation to their advantage.
“We were quite lucky as a band to remain active during the pandemic, and when it all kicked off as we released our first vinyl-only EP back in 2020 (‘Dive Bar Blues’) and we’d just finished filming some music videos and playing some live shows,” adds Penn.
“We also took the opportunity to write and record new tracks between lockdowns well as getting involved with some of the live streaming events and online gigs – including a live-streamed set from the M&S Bank Arena on the Liverpool waterfront for the Liverpool Digital Music Festival, in August 2020.
“We are fortunate that our guitarist Jose Ibanez is a professional producer as well as an incredible guitar player, so we recorded at his ‘3rd Planet Recording Studio’ just outside Liverpool City Centre. Electric Soul Machine was written and recorded during 2020-21. Songs tend to be brought to the table by singer songwriter Kenny or guitarist/producer Jose, and collectively we bring the tracks to life.
“All tracks from the album were also mastered by our friend, Martin Kuchta, at Roughgrain Mastering in Liverpool.”
And if you haven’t caught one of The Heavy North’s exhilarating and exuberant live performances yet, you should do, and fortunately there’s not long to wait.
“We will be announcing a U.K. headline tour for September 2022 which will finish up with a hometown gig at Liverpool Arts Club, our biggest headline so far, 500 capacity,” explains Stuart. “For this special gig we will be performing the album in full alongside a live, 12-piece orchestra.
“More recently, we played a ‘Sold Out’ show at the Cavern Club in Liverpool for ‘BBC Introducing’ back in January 2022, which was our first live show as a 6-piece
“Our first festival show was in Sefton Park for the 2019’ Liverpool International Music Festival’ and that was amazing. It was the year Nile Rogers played the main stage and the Zutons played an unannounced set on the second stage a few hours after us. Other favourites have seen supporting Temples at the old Zanzibar presented by EVOL shortly before the venue closed, and our London debut at The Fiddler in Kilburn, London, back in November was a highlight.”
Photograph © Blue22Photography