After a temporary recording hiatus due to the pandemic, the hard-working five piece band that is The Heavy Hinges is mere days away from releasing their dynamic nine-song album, Cellophane Rose. The anticipated new record is set to drop this Saturday, December 17th.
The Cincinnati-based group is made up of Kirk Hunter (lead guitar, backing vocals), Dylan Speeg (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Andrew Laudeman (bass guitar), Brian Williamson (drums), and Mayalou Banatwala (lead vocals, ukulele). They describe their unique style as having deep roots that extend into the time-honored traditions of rock & roll, R&B, and blues, that all accumulate to a sound that spans generations.
Drawing upon the joys and heartaches of their own lived experiences, Heavy Hinges craft impassioned and dynamic songs that fluidly migrate from jubilant to heartbroken and back again. With a dark and soulful longing, Banatwala’s stirring vocals adorn textured and memorable songs with an authenticity that is both infectious and disarming.
On Cellophane Rose, the band says, “We wrote these songs during the pandemic so the material on this album took a bit darker tone than our previous work. We rehearsed and tightened up these 9 songs for about a year. The actual recording was done in a very short amount of time.” The album was mixed and mastered by Todd Uttley at Fuzzy Eyed Studio.
We got to chat with Speeg more in depth about the album, the messages behind their music, plans for 2023, and much more.
What’s the origin story of Heavy Hinges and how did the band come together?
Our bass player Andrew and I spoke to our drummer Brian about starting a new project at the final show of our previous band. While I was bartending at a local restaurant, Justin Jeffre of pop band 98 degrees walked in and said I should start a band with the waitress who was outside on the patio making up songs about patrons. I couldn’t get outside to see her, but I asked a local reggae band who she had been opening up for as a solo artist how she was, and they said, “She is really good, but some of our fans think she cusses too much.” She was hired!
Three of the band members lost members of their immediate family around that time, so early band practices were like therapy sessions. We would learn old school gospel songs to work on the vocals while we wrote our own material. After a while, we felt we needed a lead guitarist. Justin [Jeffre] suggested guitarist Kirk Hunter who had moved to Cincinnati. Brian and I had gone to school with him, so we jumped at the chance. After playing through one song with us, he was in.
So you’ve got your upcoming album, Cellophane Rose, dropping this Saturday. Is there an overarching inspiration and influence behind this collection of songs?
I gave a girl in highschool one of those roses wrapped in cellophane, and when she unwrapped it, all the petals fell off. Things can fall apart in an instant. The pandemic taught us not to take things for granted. I had started to listen to a lot of Brazilian music from the 1960s and 70s. Maya had started to do a lot more finger picking on her ukulele. Kirk took a more prominent role in writing songs. All those separate things led to a more cohesive sound when we could stop social distancing and get back together. The songs may have a darker tone, but I think it is more about how if there is trouble, you are not the only one struggling.
Where was it recorded and who helped this vision come to life?
My sister’s husband Todd Uttley built a studio in his basement. It’s exactly what I always wanted recording to be like. It’s called Fuzzy Eyed Studio, and I can’t say enough good things about it. Our local news channel WCPO had us do a live performance for a series called lounge acts, and that was really helpful in helping us get the material ready as far as arrangements and structure.
Do you find determining the order of songs on the album to be a challenge, and how important is that to you?
We took almost as long figuring out song order as we did recording it.
Is there a song on the album that was the most difficult to write/record for one reason or another?
“Kazoo For Two” was wild. The kazoo solos were way harder to do than we thought. During the pandemic our bass player had a long absence because his wife was having a baby and he had to social distance. We wrote a few songs without knowing how the bass would go. That was challenging.
What has been your favorite/the most rewarding part of making this album?
Going in and feeling so prepared to get these songs done right. We were really on the same page with this album. We had all been through so much together that it felt amazing to come together as a unit. It was a lot easier than previous studio sessions thanks to all the hard work we had done leading up to going into the basement and pressing the record button.
What messages or feelings do you try to convey in your music?
Life is short and we are all gonna die. So get out and enjoy yourself and tell everybody you love how you feel about them.
What does success as a band or a songwriter mean to you?
Getting people to connect with the songs. We recently had a couple have us play our songs at their wedding. That was so touching for us that our songs meant that much to them. Success is connecting with your intended audience and finding surprise fans you didn’t expect along the way.
If you could tour and open for any present-day artist, who would it be and why?
Right when the pandemic hit we were supposed to play with Jackie Venson and it was canceled. We were super bummed. We would love to play with Thundercat or Janelle Monae. Arctic Monkeys are kinda doing stuff with a similar energy to us, and we get a lot of their fans at our shows. Khruangbin is one of our favorite bands. Andrew Bird would be our dream artist to open for.
If 2023 goes the way you hope it will, it will entail… (musically or otherwise)
We would love to play more festivals and play a lot more around our Midwest region. We already have more songs ready to record too. We want to make a lot more videos and collaborate with different artists.