ForgottenBeeBlog gets to grips with HeavyBall …they are the band that are the “dark blue of your darkest thoughts” apparently..they also talk of replacing groupies with tax inspectors, name the worst band in the world, and reveal the importance of Friends Reunited for todays bands and musicians….
B: Bigface (Vocal/Guitar)
F: ‘Stone Cold’ Tom Frost AKA Frosty (Lead Guitar)
H: Habs (Drums/Vocals)
J: Johnny Iball (Bass/Vocals)
FB 1. A question I’m sure you get asked all the time but the name is definitely one that’s memorable. How did it come about?
B: We never talk about the name. Who put you up to this?!
F: It had already been chosen before I knew the guys so I don’t really know. I have heard a few stories but I don’t think it’s meant to be a reference to anyone’s massive balls.
FB 2. You’ve recently been on tour in Paris and Holland. What are some of the highlights and frustrations about being on tour?
H: There is no greater fun than travelling around meeting people and playing shows.
F: Yeah, everything that comes with being in a band. Playing music in a new city in a new country each night, seeing parts of the world I have never seen before and for the sole reason to go to these places and play music.
J: it’s just a great feeling jumping in the van with your mates and heading to Europe. Somehow it just feels more rock and roll when you are abroad.
H: It’s always good to see how you’re new stuff goes down too. Some of our new songs are a bit heavier but they got a really good reception in France and Holland which gives us more of a boost to get recording them.
B: There is always a story too. Watching Frosty trying to get a coffee from a machine in a Belgian service station is a highlight for anyone who saw it. I can’t think of many frustrations really. We are an easy pleased!
H: The only frustration is that it doesn’t last long enough!
F: The only downside I have is the lack of a smoking booth in the tour van. It can be hours before my next smoke.
FB 3. How long have you been together as a band and how did you all meet?
F: I’ll let the other guys tell the story of how they met and got together as a band as it goes all the way back to when they were children.
B: Habs and I are brothers so we didn’t really have much over a say about whether we got to meet. We’ve known Johnny our whole life as we grew up next to him in Nottingham.
J: We came across Frosty when we were looking to fill out our live sound in 2014, he’s a great addition.
F: Yeah, I think they had officially been a band for a couple of years when I started playing with them. Johnny and I have a mutual friend (Turbowolf bassist Lianna) who put the word out they were looking for a guitarist. Originally, it was just meant to be a session job but during the first tour with them, at the Isle of Man TT, something clicked and they got me on board full time.
H: Frosty has been brilliant in filling out the sound but it’s also been great fun to have him in the gang, he’s a top lad.
FB 4. Take us through the song writing process for you. Is this left to one member or do you all get involved with it?
F: I don’t know how the song writing worked for the first album, but for the second album, that we are currently writing we have used a lot of different writing techniques. The first song we wrote together was during the first tour I was involved in. It was pissing with rain and we had to hide in the van for a few hours. Someone came up with a throw away comment and one of us started riffing it with an acoustic guitar. Over the next hour or so a new song had been written. We also have a dropbox that any of us can add to and we can bring anything we have been working on, we aren’t limited to only writing parts related to our instruments. I’m not the singer but I can bring lyrics or a melody I might have for us to work on or Habs could bring an idea for a guitar riff or Johnny could suggest something about the drums etc. It’s all very open.
FB 5. Do you have nicknames for each other?
B: We do, but they’re mostly unprintable.
F: Yea, but other than Bigface I don’t really understand them. That one is pretty self-explanatory.
J: They all call me Mr Iball. Mr Iball ‘Sir’ actually.
FB 6. Have you got any groupies that follow your band?
J: If only we did… if only we did… (sighs) We have picked up a lot of loyal and great fans along the way. We really appreciate their support and love seeing familiar faces at gigs.
B: If you replace ‘groupies’ with ‘tax inspectors’ and replace ‘follow’ with ‘currently investigating’, then we have loads……if HMRC are reading this, I should emphasise; that was a joke.
F: Loads. They follow me though, not the band.
FB 7. If you became world famous with one of your tracks overnight, what would be the first thing you would do?
H: You couldn’t face that on an empty stomach. I’d start in Arments pie and mash shop round the corner from me. Definitely worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Elephant and Castle.
F: Head to Bromley council to get a Blue plaque put on my wall.
J: I would buy a suit of armour and insist on wearing it all the time.
FB 8. Are there any venues you would really like to play at? Do you have any favourites?
H: We always love playing in Europe because it just seems like you’re on holiday. In terms of an atmosphere, Glasgow Barrowlands is hard to beat. As a Nottingham man, I would love to play the main room in Rock City. That was where I saw all my indie and rock heroes so it would be a massive honour to be on stage getting plastic pints of cheap beer thrown at me…as long as was just beer of course.
J: Yeah, I’d love to play Rock City in Nottingham, I can’t believe we haven’t played it already! We love playing in Vienna so anywhere there. Beautiful city and well dressed crowds.
F: Obviously the big places like Wembley and Hyde Park but I have always wanted to play at Union Chapel in Islington. The Haarlem festival and the Welcome to the Village festival, both in Holland, are probably particular favourites of mine.
FB 9. Do any of you have any weird habits or hobbies?
H: Playing the drums. Which is actually quite weird when you think about it, which is why I try not to think about it.
J: I play darts.. is that weird? It fact.. no it isn’t weird, its brilliant.
FB 10. Who are some of the biggest musical inspirations for you as a band?
B: The Who, Specials, and the police
H: On my drumming… pretty much every new wave band, ska, reggae and bits of hip hop.
F: Jimi Hendrix is a big inspiration. We have covered a few of his songs and keep returning to our Ska’d up version of Hey Joe if we get called back on for an encore. We also have country influences like Johnny Cash making a noticeable impression.
FB 11. What social media do you find the most effective way to connect with your fans?
H: Friends Reunited is usually pretty productive.
FB 12. Have any of you been in bands before?
H: I’ve been in bands since I was about 13. I’m not the world’s most gifted sportsman so I had already ruled out getting signed for Forest by that point. Since then I’ve played in indie bands, punk bands, rock bands and wedding bands. I had some great experiences doing that but being in Heavyball seems the most natural fit, given I’m playing with my brother and best mate, while Frosty just slotted right in.
F: I have played in a few. Starting off at age 13 or 14 or whatever it was with mates at school and dropping in and out of a few that either didn’t sit right or were more of a session job.
FB 13. If ‘HeavyBall’ was a colour what colour would it be?
J: The dark blue of your darkest thoughts
B: Parrot green
FB 14. If you could go on tour with any band who would it be?
F: Red Hot Chili Peppers
J: The Police. It would be great to watch and learn.. and I bet their catering is excellent.
H: Chas and Dave. I’ve seen them live a couple of times and they’re unbelievably good.
FB 15. On ForgottenBeeblog I always set a poetry challenge, in no more than 20 words please write a poem to include the words ‘Automatic Hit Machine’…..
Is there any future for the writer?
or will you simply think,
into your Automatic Hit Machine.
Auto Hit Machine burning bright
On the telly, Sunday night
What immortal reason why,
For a talent show you did apply?
FB 16. Individually can you all share with me a secret?
H: Dr Fox wasn’t actually a doctor.
J: I don’t really like the Beatles… don’t tell anyone though will you?
F: I am scared of bridges and that is not a shit joke, I really hate the fuckers.
B: I’m scared of Frosty
FB 17. I love your cover version and especially the video to ‘Smalltown Boy’ what did it feel like to get nominated for a British Animation Award?
H: It was fantastic that Fettle Animation got the recognition they deserved for that video, they’re a talented outfit and lovely people. Heavyball can’t really claim much credit for the success of Smalltown Boy, Sameer Patel did a first class job directing the video and Fettle added even more. Of course we’re really pleased with the way it sounds, but it’s just such a brilliant song to begin with, catchy but with a great story behind it….that’s basically what we strive for when we write stuff.
FB 18. If you weren’t in a band what would you all be doing?
F: Pretty much what I’m doing now.
H: Thinking about which band I should try and join.
J: I’d be pushing to play at the Lakeside 2017 darts tournament.
FB 19. How often do you get to jam in a week?
H: Not enough as I’d like, jamming is some of the most fun you can have.
FB 20. Tell me what was the first record, cd and download you all bought?
F: CD – Californication. Download – I haven’t got a clue, it might have been one of The Clash albums to go with my first iPod. Record- It was either a Jimi Hendrix album or Dire Straights album, I can’t remember which one came home first.
J: I bought The Final Countdown by Europe.. massive hit
H: I can’t remember how old I was but the first two CDs I bought were with birthday money…The Best of the Clash and the single Young at Heart by The Bluebells. I think I’d heard of both bands from adverts that were on around that time, so I should probably be grateful to some advertising exec.
FB 21. Quick Fire round – One word answers only please – whoever shouts the loudest?
- Best Musician in the band?
- Worst haircut in the band?
F: All of them except mine
- Worst band in the world?
H: Gastric (I love my food)
- Best dress sense in the band?
J: If anyone says anyone apart from me they are deluded.
- Techy nerd of the band?
B: Probably me….but only compared to everyone else, who can’t tell an adapter plug from a butt plug
FB 22. Is there a comedian within the band, and what makes you all laugh?
F: Everyone in the band thinks they are a comedian.
J: Habs does some excellent punning.
H: We all have our moments. Our humour flits between low brow and the gutter.
B: I can’t remember a time when any of these clowns made me laugh.
FB 23. What’s your view on the sudden resurgence of vinyl?
H: The interesting thing is how current technology had made music so much easier to record and distribute but the sound quality most people use is pretty poor compared to older formats. I’m not sure whether they’ll be more of an effort to improve the sound quality on phones etc or whether most people aren’t that bothered, we’ll see.
FB 24. What other plans do Heavyball have for 2016 and where can fans find out about your music?
F: For the rest of 2016 we are really busy. We head back out to Europe in October for our third tour of the year (UK/Germany/Netherlands). We are getting our heads down working on the second album, a few tracks have already been recorded. Also, we have a live album to release in October and we have just covered a song by Ska/Hardcore LA band Voodoo Glow Skulls which has been rearranged in a Heavyball style so keep an eye out for that. Oh, and we are working with a film director on the music for a new web series/feature.
Photography courtesy of:
Band 04 – Harleem (B&W)
Band 01 – Netherlands
Bigface 01 – Netherlands
Bigface 02 – Nethrerlands
Frosty 01 – Netherlands
Frosty 02 – Netherlands
Habs 01 – Netherlands
Habs 02 – Netherlands
Johnny 01 – Netherlands
Johnny 01 – Paris
Set List – Netherlands
Barbara Hartl © Graph Art Line e.U. 2014
Band 02 – Vienna (B&W)
Band 03 – Vienna (Color)