The Heavy Pets are an American Rock band that incorporates elements of funk, jazz, blues, and even some disco vibes to create a unique sound that’s galvanizing stages nationwide. I had a chance to sit down and chat with their drummer Jamie Newitt at Aura Music Festival. Here’s what he had to say about their music, plans for the future and more.
A few weeks back, we had the pleasure of hosting the Jacob Jeffries Band for a performance at our in-office studio. This high-spirited Florida band had all the Sharks gleefully bobbing their heads to gritty pop tunes and soulfully charged vocals. Fresh from a chain of performances along the East Coast, the band’s front man, Jacob Jeffries, took some time away from coaching musical theatre in South Florida to catch up and talk about some of the band’s upcoming projects. Be sure to check out the video for Suffocate My Heart off their latest album, Tell Me Secrets, at the end of the interview.
GS: Hey Jacob! Last time when you guys were at our office, the band had to head out that evening for a chain of upcoming shows, how did that go?
JJ: Great man. It was like a nice little almost-vacation. The traveling aspect is always going to be a part of any band’s career, and in this day and age you have to get the music to the people, but starting in a couple of weeks we are actually going to be based mainly out of New York.
GS: Are you excited?
JJ: I’m stoked, man!
GS: When did music become a part of your life?
JJ: Music is really a part of my life because of my mom’s passion for the Beatles and the music she grew up on. My mom is a pretty introverted person, and I think she found a lot of comfort and safety in music growing up. When others would have been going out and gallivanting around town, she found more happiness in just listening to a Beatles record, y’know? So, growing up that was all I listened to and I loved it, I embraced it, and I wanted to be them.
GS: How did the band get together?
JJ: I met my guitarist, Jimmy Powers, when we were in high school and he was known as this hotshot guitarist. He was in this amazing band that I just literally drooled over. I used to look up to them so much and I was kind of scared of them because, in my head, they were kind of famous. Anyway, in my sophomore/junior year I started jamming with Jimmy and he asked his band if they would be interested in jamming with me. After that his funk band started playing my songs with me and backing me up, and it was kind of this cool full-circle thing. I couldn’t believe that the drummer was playing drums for me, that Jimmy was playing guitar for me, and I was playing with this amazing band that I marveled at and loved for so long.
GS: I am curious to know who was Jacob Jeffries in high school. What album really defined you at that time of your life?
JJ: I was friends with a lot of different people in the high school food chain but I mainly did a lot of the musical performing arts stuff like drama, chorus, and jazz band. If I had to define myself with an album in high school, I would actually have to mention a couple albums. When Gavin DeGraw came on the scene, and his first album came out, I couldn’t stop playing that with my girlfriend at the time. There was also a Rufus Wainwright album called Release the Stars that I listened to a lot. Sprinkle in the Beatles and pepper in some Fountains of Wayne and you got my high school playlist.
GS: You guys have been together for nearly a decade in different incarnations. Any advice to other bands on trying to make it in the industry?
JJ: There was advice that was given to me years ago, and I try to practice it everyday: it’s not to compare yourself to others. Comparing yourself is the worst thing you can do, and it’s a disease that we all have. When you start comparing yourself to other artists and their progress or stagnancy, it starts to become more of a competition and you start losing your mind. The advice I have to other people is to put up blinders and only pay attention to yourself and your goals.
GS: I wanted to thank you guys, because last time you came through town you left copies of your first full studio album, Tell Me Secrets. What are the secrets or inspirations behind this album?
JJ: It’s pretty ironic that the album is called Tell Me Secrets because I don’t have any secrets. I am an open dude and I’ll tell you anything you want to know about me. The album is like a glimpse into some of my relationships with friends, family, and lovers, and how I feel about them, but they aren’t really secrets. That’s my job on this world, on this earth—to play music for people to relate to. And there’s no secret about that.
GS: How would you describe your music?
JJ: I feel like it makes people comfortable and it really applies to everyone on the planet. It’s kind of like the three little bears: not too hot, not too cold, not too hard, not too soft.
GS: Speaking of childhood, what was your program or cartoon as a kid?
JJ: When I was little it was definitely Rugrats, then as I got a little older it was Full House, and then I graduated to my favorite show, Freaks and Geeks. It only ran for one season but I can watch it over and over.
GS: What is something you want listeners to know about the Jacob Jeffries Band?
JJ: The music that we make and the shows that we put on are pure energy and honesty. I hope that people can relate to us and just smile that we are bringing good music to the world.
Dozens of special needs preschoolers view him as Mr. Garfield, but little do they know that after early mornings in the classroom, their favorite musically inclined mentor spends his evenings delivering music to the city of New York. Evan Garfield, along with his bandmates Michael Pedron, T.J. Masters, and Alan Busch of Conveyor are far from your usual mid-twenties New Yorkers. Juggling day jobs, thesis papers, and recovering from a week full of performances at CMJ Music Marathon, the guys of Conveyor exemplify that there is much more that exists behind the music.
Just a few hours before an evening show, Conveyor drummer Evan Garfield managed to steal away and find a few sweet minutes to hang with Grooveshark. Despite the hefty list of obligations that day, Garfield had every ounce of chipper still intact when we linked up. He admitted that though his life is riddled with the quintessential New York hustle and bustle, he is loving every minute of it. Primed and ready for a week of performances at CMJ, Garfield shared that despite currently residing in Brooklyn, he still feels like he and his bandmates are still from that college town in Florida.
Flacos Cuban Cafe, known for their ability to satisfy the deep-fried cravings of Gainesville’s bar hoppers, was the location that first united the quartet. Pedron and Garfield, along with fellow Gainesville musicians Michael Claytor and Devon Stuart, hosted a weekly music night at the restaurant that brought out the vocalists, instrumentalists, and music lovers from around town. This mecca for musicians introduced the future bandmates to one another and created the breeding ground for tons of other musical entities, including their long time friends Hundred Waters. Garfield shared that some of the highlights of his college experience was the sharing of music from different artists in the cramped back room of that Cuban cafe. Even though Wednesday nights at Flacos offered TJ, Alan, Michael and Evan the opportunity to play music around one another, it was not until leaving Gainesville did their musical journeys coalesce.
After moving to the Big Apple for graduate school, fate would have it that the rest of Evan’s mates would all emigrate to New York City as well. The years of making music around each other, paired with the fortuitous circumstances that brought them all to New York, made it impossible for the gentlemen to resist the opportunity to form a band. It all began when Evan and Michael volunteered to add their drum and bass on some demos created by TJ and Alan under the band name Conveyor.
Evan admits that the choice to keep the name Conveyor came from a pure appreciation for the aesthetic of the word and the humor that came with donning a name that was much darker and grittier than their cuddly personas (as depicted in the above picture). Conveyor’s upbeat indie melodies mixed with their Four Top esque vocal harmonies perfectly reflect the youthful quirky energy of the band.
Though the city of New York has yet to set up a Flacos, Garfield shared that the Big Apple is starting to feel a lot more like that small college town. Aside from the new relationships the band is forming with other musicians, CMJ week allowed for Conveyor to reunite with their old Florida friends, Hundred Waters, on the same stage again. Garfield admits that he is grateful to be able to make music, but even more grateful to see the journey that he and his friends from Gainesville are experiencing together.
Catch Conveyor live in Boston this Saturday, November 3, at 7:00pm at Paradise Rock Club as they open for Geographer and Freelance Whales. Head back to the Grooveshark Blog every week to check out the latest news, exclusive updates, and interviews with amazing bands like Conveyor.
In our relentless pursuit to empower musicians and nurture the world of independent music, we hopped on Kickstarter to scope out artists and innovators that are using their talents to bring music to the world. After browsing through an absurd amount of projects, we stumbled upon two campaigns that sounded so great, we were compelled to harmonize with them. We teamed up with musician Jeff Harms and indie-music web series Dirty Laundry TV to promote their Kickstarter campaigns on the Grooveshark site via our video engagement platform. More than 75,000 YouTube views, and thousands of dollars in crowdfunding later, both campaigns were successfully funded. Jeff Harms and Dirty Laundry TV linked back up with us, and offered to give our Grooveshark listeners, and readers, a heads up on what we can look forward to as a result of their campaigns’ success.
Singer-songwriter, Jeff Harms, found his way to Kickstarter to test whether he could pay for an album before it was even released to the public. Promising prizes that ranged from digital downloads, to even an 8-hour live performance, Harms left no limits to the extent of his gratitude for his supporters. His curiosities, and wild tactics, produced positive results because Harms managed to receive more than double the amount of his requested backing and his two-part album, He Said She Said That’s What She Said and Pretty Girls Don’t Just Talk to Me, are being released to the public this summer and this winter respectively. While this multi-talented artist plans on using the extra funds to ramp up the awareness for his new album, he may find himself too preoccupied with his new responsibilities of arranging and writing 15 custom songs and a rock opera for some of his generous fans.
The self-produced web-series, Dirty Laundry TV, has had a 3-year track record for delivering interviews with some of the most interesting bands in the independent music scene. Appropriately shot in a Silver Lake laundromat, this unconventional web-series became inspired to create a Kickstarter campaign after hearing about a fundraising drive on a local public radio station. Raising more than $15,000, Dirty Laundry TV’s fundraising efforts managed to provide more than enough spare change to keep the machines going on their weekly series. The team is now gearing up to expand the breadth of their content by taking their Dirty Laundry out of Silver Lake and onto the road.