In Conversation with Heavy Static

Heavy Static is a Toronto-based alt-rock trio with a sound inspired by the roots of punk and new wave, ?80s slasher films, and Swedish pop music. The band, comprised of Christian Patrick (lead vocals/guitar), James Young (drums/backing vocals), and Dave Vasey (bass/backing vocals) has just released the track Andromeda from their second EP Here Comes the Fear, due out this summer. Recently frontman Christian Patrick took the time to answer our questions about the band’s history, experiences, and influences.

What elements in your childhood and early years pointed you toward music? Toward alt-rock music in particular?
I was always drawn to being a musician, even before I knew how to play an instrument. I’d sit and draw fake band names on the back of my school workbook every day. I’d have fake concerts in my bedroom. And, I loved writing lyrics to songs I hoped one day to bring to life.

I think MTV? when they used to actually play videos? really drove home the idea of a rock star, and seeing bands like Twisted Sister made me want to play in a band. I loved The Smiths, The Cure, The Clash, The Cult, and everything that had cool guitar solos and catchy choruses. I also loved the clothing styles of these bands.

What was your most beneficial educational experience? What, or who, in your training had the most?and best?influence on you, as a composer, as a musician, and as a human being?
I’ve always been a self-taught musician, though for many years I was an average guitar player and was content doing the limited things I knew well. About five or six years ago I went through a break-up, and that really lit a fire underneath me. It gave me focus, and I started taking guitar lessons to broaden my knowledge and hone my skill.

It opened up a whole new world and I advanced really quickly in learning because the fundamentals had already been there for years. I really became the guitarist I’d always wanted to be. Our first EP was the result of that break-up and those guitar lessons.

I’m a much better musician now, but I think that decision to focus on something other than my break-up was amazing. The funny part is that my ex is a musician as well and the guy who gave me the guitar lessons was a member of her band at the time. I never really realized the irony of that at the time.

What was the most mesmerizing musical experience of your life?
I used to go on tours with this Swedish band named The Ark. They were really huge back in 2009. Anyway, they once played a show and asked me to come onstage in front of 30,000 people to sing backups. That was insane.

How did the band members meet?
I’ve known Dave (the bassist) for years through mutual friends and old bandmates. He bothered me for like two years to form a band with him and I always said no. One day I said yes, and here we are. As for our drummer, James, we were having auditions in 2014 because our original drummer had left the band. James was like the second guy who came out, and I knew right away he was our man. Fantastic drummer that James Young is.

What’s your favourite instrument to play and why?

It’s going to sound strange, but I love playing the bass. I’ve never played bass in a band, but I love writing bass lines. There’s something really cool about the sound of a bass locked into a drumbeat. Bassists get a lot of crap about being bass players, but they really are the unsung heroes of a band.

Did anything funny or bizarre happen during the recording, performing, or touring of Here Comes the Fear?
Recording HCTF was unlike any recording we’ve ever done. Aside from drums, the entire EP was recorded at my home. I needed some place to really explore my ideas without being stressed and looking at a clock and knowing every minute is costing us money.

Though it alleviated some stresses, it added a lot of stress in other areas. For one, I never knew when a song was truly done because I was on my own for the final parts. Like, how many guitars does a song need? Is 10 enough? 20? Because I could lay down layer after layer after layer and it never felt like enough. Because of this, the EP took way longer to record than it should have.

Describe a typical rehearsal.
we’re all business in our rehearsals, aside from a few jokes between songs. For the most part, we just run through the set or work on new songs. We aren’t a jam band and we don’t jam out ideas. I’ve thought out all the parts to the songs way before I bring them to the other members of the band.

I don’t understand wasting time on an idea that hasn’t been sussed out already. Rehearsal is for refining things, not for writing songs. Not for me, anyway. If we had unlimited time at the rehearsal space it might be a different story, but we’re busy guys with only have so much time to work on things, and so we just work on the set and songs we have.

What conditions do you need in your life in order to continue with being creative?
For me, I need solitude. I’m very, very social; I’m also very much a hermit. Everything I do is on a whim and that includes writing. I’ve never been one to assign time to write music; it just happens when it happens and that can’t occur if I’m not alone. I’ve never liked roommates for that very reason. It’s not that they prevent me from creating, It’s that I prevent myself rom playing, out of guilt. I bet I’m the most annoying roommate in the world, playing guitar at odd hours of the night just because I have an idea.

Is Toronto a positive or negative influence on your work?
Toronto is like any other city. It’s full of people and when you live someplace long enough you become numb. Toronto hasn’t been an influence on me in many, many years. That being said, I’ve lived in enough places and have enough experiences to draw from that I always have some sort of inspiration. I lived in Prague, Czech Republic for a few years and that place will always have a special place in my heart and will give me a lifetime of influence.

Are there any books, films, or albums that have deeply influenced your development as an artist?
I was and still am very influenced by Bret Easton Ellis’s classic book, American Psycho. It’s such a clever, underhanded look at society. People see the violence in the words, but you have to read between the lines. I think It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

I’m also very influenced by bands like The Ark, Kent, Bowie, Queen, The Darkness, and Manic Street Preachers, all trailblazers in my mind. As for films, I’ve always had an affinity towards campy horror movies like My Bloody Valentine and Maximum Overdrive.

To me, Maximum Overdrive is just perfect. It’s also one of the last times a movie was sort of a platform for a band to promote itself. In this case, it was AC/DC. They weren’t even promoting an album or anything. They were just asked to do the soundtrack and they’re all over that movie. It’s brilliant.

What music have you been listening to lately?
I haven’t been listening to much, really. But I’m still keen on listening to The Smiths and Swedish band Kent. Oh, I’m also really into this band called Waters.

What’s your next project?
we’re writing new songs and working on the next EP or album that will come out in the fall. we’re always three steps ahead of the music That’s released. Here Comes the Fear hasn’t even come out yet and we’re already thinking about the next thing.

Wanda also writes the blog The Mindful Bard:The Care and Feeding of the Creative Self.