September is for many a time of new beginnings.
So is it too for Heavy Hearts, the musical project of locals Justin Glatt and Jamie Gorman.
Glatt and Gorman sit on a couch in their Virgil rehearsal space, finishing each other’s sentences. They’re millennials and musicians, with sleeves of colourful ink up their arms, band-logo t-shirts, considered hair, and lots of black garb. They’re also smart, funny, self-deprecating and polite.
The two long-time friends have been playing music together in this incarnation for about six years, Glatt on vocals and Gorman on bass.
“We started this band officially in 2013, but by then we’d been fumbling through it together for three years prior,” says Glatt.
Gorman adds, “We’ve had different variations of this band for years, starting in Justin’s garage — so hot! So cold! So loud!”
The band has grown steadily in success, peaking with a UK and European tour earlier this year.
“Germany was sick, it was incredible” says Gorman. “We played in a real small town and had very low expectations. When we got there, there were people wearing merch items of ours that we had sold out of two years ago. The crowd was amazing, singing the words back to us. Just a surreal experience so far away from home.”
While the tour was a hit, they knew changes were imminent. Drummer Davis Maxwell would be leaving the band on their return home.
“We knew going into it that it would be his last one so he could focus more on his recording career,” says Gorman.
They were scheduled to go into the studio in March, having just touched down in January. They took the time in between to find ways to love playing music again, after having become a bit cynical about the industry. They didn’t write any new music, or do much of anything with the band.
“People were probably assuming we were finished,” says Glatt.
But they had booked time at their chosen recording studio, so they decided to go in empty-handed and write on the spot, for three weeks in March.
“Writing in the studio was a real challenge. It was rough at the time. It is something we won’t be doing again,” says Glatt, shaking his head.Gorman laughs in agreement.
They took guitarist Riley Jensen with them to work with their producer Cory Bergean at Pebble Studios in Ottawa. The three of them share writing credits on the bouquet of songs that will make up the new record. When they had wrung out the songs, they brought in drummer Joey Demers. “We wrote the drum parts and he performed them, with his added flair,” says Gorman.
The new line-up — which will shift Demers to keyboards and percussion, and be completed with JJ Sorensen on drums — gives the band an opportunity to switch lanes a bit. “The new material allowed us to say, ‘Let’s change, let’s sound different.’ We sounded dated — and we didn’t want to be an EMO band in our late 20’s,” says Glatt with a chuckle. Gorman adds, “We also found ourselves playing with bands that were taking their toll on us, and we wanted to move on from that scene.”
They describe the new Heavy Hearts sound as “a little more chill, maybe a little more dance-y. It still falls under the category of alternative rock, but that’s a pretty broad genre. Of our new songs, one’s the heaviest we’ve ever written, and one is the softest.” The first single, Cut Too Deep, was released online on Sept. 12, and has been getting a good response.
“That song is the closest to the old sound. There are some pieces of this new album that are totally different. I don’t know what people are going to think,” explains Glatt.
Gorman and Glatt manage the band themselves.
“It has its pros and cons. Pro — we have complete control and do everything ourselves. Con — we do everything ourselves,” says Glatt.
“Being musicians as kids, and not focusing on school very much — sometimes the business know-how is over our heads and we have to make a few calls to professionals to get answers,” Gorman adds.
In the streaming era, there are musicians who choose not to follow the tradition of recording a group of songs and releasing them as a “record.” Regarding this, Glatt says, “You could just roll out one single after another, but putting out an album gives you the opportunity to rebrand, and create excitement. Plus it’s hard to maintain momentum when you release one single at a time.”
“An album allows for a proper roll-out that happens. Selfishly, I like the idea of a record: Here are 10-12 songs that reflect the same headspace,” Gorman adds.
Glatt finishes the thought: “A consistent vibe as opposed to a collection.”
That vibe is still being built throughout the band’s oeuvre, from songwriting through to performing.
“If it all goes the way we want it to it will be a totally different experience, a new sound,” says Glatt.
“We also plan on approaching live shows and how we play them a lot differently. We want to use this rebrand to be the best band we have ever been,” Gorman adds.
The band will play its first live show with the new line-up at HopeFest in Waterloo on Sept. 22.
“We definitely want to go back to the UK, and we’re planning on making our way back in to the US. I’m mostly just excited to see how this record goes,” Gorman says simply.
“My dream is to be able to continue to make records with my friends — I hope I get to do this forever.”