INTERVIEW: Heavy Trash | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

Narc. Magazine Online

Reliably informed

Too often perceived as simply a hobby band for Jon Spencer in his downtime from the Blues Explosion, Heavy Trash are so much more than that – an explosive and raw rockabilly outfit with a perfect set of influences but the nous not to simply mimic them, and as much Matt Verta-Ray’s band as Spencer’s. They haven’t released anything since 2009’s fabulous Midnight Soul Serenade and tour rarely. Why the lengthy downtime?

“We’re not very goal oriented. Part of that is the fact that we have NY Hed Studio (my place in New York) to treat as our personal sonic playground. Jon’s been pretty busy with Blues Explosion and I have other projects going such as a band with my wife (Disturbios) and one with Mama Rosin and Mick Collins called Broadway Lafayette. I think we tend to take for granted our sweet studio setup since it’s always there. In our minds, we’re always just kind of plugging away at things, writing songs, recording, mixing, so there’s not such a conscious effort to get active again. When the oil flows to the tubes in the Heavy Trash section of the machine, that part of the equipment springs to life.”

There’s a new album imminent called Noir – a vinyl-only collection of unreleased oddities coming out on Seriés Aphōnos. “We had originally wanted to have something auditory or audible to hawk at our shows, Elvis back-lot-out-of-the-car-trunk style. It’d been a while since we´d released any records. We have reels and reels of recorded material lying around the studio and it seemed feasible to release a quick single for a tour we had coming up in France. But as we were putting it together, a full length album started to emerge – I guess like most artists, we feel we have a lot to say! – so then it was a question of format. We were going to release it in a blank white sleeve like a disco 12 inch record and maybe make a rubber stamp with the pertinent info. Actually we’re still probably gonna do that someday, so no stealing kids! Jon had done something with Aphonos before, I think with Boss Hog, and one of my favourite artists, Gemma Ray had an SA release. Jon and I both loved the artwork and the unified style (all the jackets in the series are done by the same guy) so we asked Andy at Bronze Rat, who also heads up Aphonos, if they’d take us on. Andy was great. Gave us free hand with everything, the weirder and artier the better, which is good because we have a lot of weird stuff in the vaults!”

heavy trash 2

“A lot of the punk tradition is pretty accusatory, which stems from the energy of rejecting a power structure that’s squashing poor little us. But when you’ve been around as long as we have, it’s difficult to claim perfect innocence”

One of the standout tracks is Jibber Jabber, which seems to be a plea for authenticity in a synthetic, mediated world. But Heavy Trash have always embraced a certain amount of, if not pastiche, then at least a kind of exaggeration in what they do. So is the plea itself a little ironic?

“Well, it’s showbiz! There’s built in artifice and so looking for authenticity, while a compelling endeavour, is one that will remain unrewarded. I personally really love poetry in which the speaker is using a criticism of some outsider to take a look and a poke at him or herself. Sometimes the critique is unconscious. A lot of the punk tradition is pretty accusatory, which stems from the energy of rejecting a power structure that’s squashing poor little us. But when you’ve been around as long as we have, it’s difficult to claim perfect innocence. We’ve all been attracted by money, legitimacy, sex appeal, creature comfort, tons of not-so-flattering indulgences. So yeah, pointing the finger can have its ironic side and we’re not exempt. Jibber Jabber started from a great groove on the standup bass that our drummer Sam Baker came up with.”

As for the vinyl only release, will Noir ever appear in anything other than this vinyl edition? “We’re on the same page as Aphonos as far as vinyl goes. We love it, it sounds looks and feels great, it’s less ethereal than some wispy digital file and so why not? We’ve no plans for any other format for this record. We’re holding out to release it on the next technology that replaces digital! As far as making it a bit harder to get one’s paws on, well, that can have its appeal. Why not make the kids work a bit to get it on the old mp3 player?”

In a recent Quietus article, Jon was quoted as saying that the ‘missing fourth album’ will stay missing, should we expect any new Heavy Trash releases any time soon?

“I heard about that article and asked Jon about it. ‘Hey, is there something I don’t know about that I should?’. He said that he was just being silly and kibitzing as he sometimes does in interviews for shock value. We have the album about 90% done and will probably get back into it in earnest around December of this year. What’s the rush? We don´t plan on dying anytime soon but if we do, I´m sure there’s a competent mixer out there who can put the album together from the recordings we have already!”

Heavy Trash play Newcastle’s The Cluny on Wednesday 15th July.

Like this story? Share it!