Last month The Heavy Pets left their Florida home to come and play at the 4th annual LoHi Music Festival in Denver, CO. After their set, I had the pleasure of sitting down for a conversation with guitarist Jeff Lloyd. Growing up in South Florida, I was lucky enough to see The Heavy Pets many times at all of my favorite childhood venues. Nothing is more inspiring to me then seeing what was a local band in South Florida turn into a group I’m always hearing on JamOn XM.
I figured I would start by asking Jeff how the band got its name. “The Strokes were already taken,” Jeff said with a smile. Immediately I knew this was going to be a great interview. Here is the rest of it.
DubEra: What bands give influence to the Pets sound most?
Jeff Lloyd: Well if you ask all 5 members of the band your going to get 5 different answers. For me, I was a Phish kid and growing up in the northeast in the 90’s and I got to catch that band when they were really doing some amazing, amazing things. They were a big inspiration, but for me now a days the bands I listen to are more like Dr. Dog or The Dirty Projectors. If you ask Jamie or Tony that question their answers are going to lie more in the groove, funk/jazz realm. Mike I also know has really been digging hard into Modest Mouse and music like that.
Who was your inspiration to start playing guitar?
JL: (As a grin comes across Jeff’s face) Well when I was younger I think I may have listened to a little too much Phish; so Trey was a big influence, but the reason I first ever picked up a guitar was because of Jimi Hendrix. Another huge influence was Brian May from Queen, his tone is absolutely amazing and no one ever pegs me for it but I have definitely worked towards it.
How much does the live music you see when your not playing help motivate and inspire your own music?
JL: Indirectly a lot, a band like Phish has this ability to connect with fans and take them on an adventure. They don’t just start off in outer space; they start from something small and turn it into a story that takes you somewhere. You can’t just jam people’s faces off right out of the gates, so in that regard that’s something we aspire to do with our music.Smaller things like all the neat little gimmicks they do from the trampolines or even Fishman’s dress. It’s a thing, and its something for people to talk about. I think that’s very important and I think its very smart of them to create something unique like that. If you don’t think you need a thing, you’re kidding yourself.
Growing up in South Florida I know how scarce the jam scene can be, was it difficult to create such success in an area where nobody was doing what you guys do.
JL: I don’t think it was very difficult, I think that all of us being from the Northeast we had a lot of influences coming from the scene. When we got to South Florida there wasn’t really any of that going on, but we were really lucky and met a lot of cool people who helped us start something.Being that there weren’t too many other bands down there doing what we do, when we started we pretty much got wrote about right away. Almost immediately there were magazine articles, and that was really huge. It ended up really benefitting us to change our location and make the move to South Florida. We like to think we have played a small role to progressively creating a growing scene down there. Luckily Brotherly Love Productions has been bringing some great artists to come out and play. It’s been a very symbiotic relationship where we are really working towards the same goal, and everybody is helping each other out.
How much does the environment your playing in effect the outcome of your music? I’ve seen you many times at SOSMP and those always seemed to stand out as the more beautiful shows I’ve seen you play.
JL: At least a few times every set I get the chills and I think to myself, “Wow, how lucky am I to be doing this?” Playing music in this ideal setting with my best friends. It’s not just the beauty of the music or where we are, but the energy of the crowd can really make the show. There is really something special about a crowd that is hyped up, and it is truly inspiring to us.
What’s next for Heavy Pets?
JL: Well, we have a pretty busy summer ahead of us with a full list of festivals to play, and a few little runs. Also, we are going to keep recording. We have been plugging away a new EP every 3-4 months. We have released Two horses, we released Rags and Aces, and were actually already done with the next one we are still working on a title and artwork. We have been very blessed to have our songs so well received by satellite radio and other music sources.