Heavy Glow is a power rock trio from San Diego. I talked with their guitarist, lead singer and primary song-writer Jared Mullins this week. As a musician myself – approaching 40 years of age – I’m always impressed and more than a bit jealous when I speak to young turks like Jared who seem to have all their ducks in a row career-wise and are focused driven to succeed in music. My cop out is usually that I have a family to support and can’t force my them to squeak by on Ramen noodles salvation army clothes just so diddle away the hours on my music career. Talking to young guys like Jared occasionally is good antidote to this crappy attitude – it helps jolt my ass out complacency.
Anyway, I really like Heavy Glow’s music – it’s slightly edgy, mainstream enough to not require repeated listens to get into – and has an absolute affinity to early Rush music. In fact, I’d describe the band as Cream crossed with early Rush circa Fly By Night, only with a white-boy baritone blues singer.
Ben Sommer: I’m here with Jared the lead guitarist and the singer for the band Heavy Glow and this is www.BandsLikeRush.com. Jared, why don’t you just say hi, and give us a brief intro to fans who don’t know of your work, and what the band is all about, what you’re up to, et cetera.
Jared Mullins: Yeah, definitely. Heavy Glow is a new rock band with classic-rock vibes, very similar to bands you hear like Rush and Cream and all those good guys. We’re based in sunny California.
Ben: In San Diego, right?
Ben: Cool, so tell us a little bit more about your music, your approach to recording and where you are in your career. Clue into the people who are listening to this, Jared and I talked last week, and I totally screwed up my computer set up and lost the recording, and so he and I are trying to relive this great conversation we have last week, so that’s why maybe kind of giggling to each other. I see that I remember you Jared telling me a bit about how you got an interesting new experience you had recording your last album with the famous producer, and then we also talked a lot about your approach to promoting. So if you want to hit any of those in any kind of order.
Jared: Yeah, definitely. Well, I’ll just ramble, and if I ramble, you just must let me know, but Heavy Glow is a new band. We put out to EPs. The first one we recorded in 2009, and after recording, it was Stevie Salas, who is kind of my mentor. Stevie is well known for working with basically everybody in the business. He is first and foremost a guitarist. When Stevie was 18 or something, he was up working in a record label up in Los Angeles. They’ll sleep on the couch and George Clinton wakes him up and says, “Hey, I heard you can play funk guitar.” And that was basically what started him off. So he played with George Clinton for a while. He played with Rod Stewart. When Mick Jagger went on his solo tours, he decided to have Stevie as Keith Richard’s substitute or whatnot. So we actually worked with him and went up to Velvet Revolver’s studio, and it’s good that we then got a six-song EP in four days, recorded old school the way that I like it. Everybody is set up in the same room live with guitars, bass, drums, and we did some vocal overdub and all of that kind of stuff. We just recorded another EP. I guess I adjusted to it, but it’s about a year ago actually. When that came out, we did that in one day with the same kind of set up where it’s just the whole band is in one room, and everything from mike the way it’s used to be. We’re really just going for that very real and authentic vibe from the music, and I think it goes well with the style of music that we have.
Ben: Yeah, definitely. You guys are a power trouper. That is just a stupid term, the power trio. The style, there is no fuzz or frills, and bands, that had nothing to do with you, but like early Rush, before they got into the additions to the synthesizers and other different instruments. But recent bands like Green Day, well, I don’t know. Maybe there is a bit of similarity between your styles, but I always envy those small-type trio bands or quartets who their music, whether it’s live or recorded is the same, it’s simple. It’s almost like you guys consciously have to avoid all the neat tricks in sonic gizmos you can bring into the studio to experiment with your sound and you can do something big to keep it simple, I’m sure, and that allows you to go through recording a whole album in one day as you will play it all live, which is the vocal overdub, and then it will also allows you to recreate the exact same experience live. Is that a conscious thing with you or what?
Jared: Yeah, part of it is forced. We’re four musicians, so we can’t afford the biggest producer that’s working with cold players or something like that, and I don’t even know that I would want that really. I’m very really happy with the stuff that we put out. I think it translates well. I was even listening to Nirvana last night and even Ryan Adams yesterday, and I think the best music is the kind of music where if you listen to it immediately, you can’t help but feel something. Even listening to Nirvana, there is not really much changes. They are three-piece. The bass isn’t really that good. The drum is okay. I never reflected Grohl as awesome a drummer until he played stuff, but the songs are pretty much always the same as the power chord bit, but always it’s something about the way it sounds or whatnot to get me listening to it, though.
Ben: I know what you mean. I feel the exact same way. Kurt Cobain is a raunchy guitarist because he’s kind of like an updated version of Neil Young. But yeah, I agree, there had been music that’s odd Rush-like almost. [00:05:23], but yeah, I like it. When you said you don’t have a lot of money for a lot of big-time producers, well that doesn’t mean you need to limit yourself in the studio. I and others, we play a lot of different instruments where we use various creative synthesizing type approaches, so you could do that with the same budget, why don’t you? Because you’re not just interested in the style?
Jared: I could, but I don’t know what I listened to that has something on it already. I don’t know that anything I’ve really gotten into has that in it, and I don’t really consider it like an option for me, I guess. I don’t know.
Ben: Yeah, or with keyboards, it’s something I don’t understand too much, but keyboards or if you play ukulele, or you could even layer the vocals in a thicker way than you do currently. From my ear, when I was listening to music, I don’t hear too much over the top vocal harmony.
Jared: Yeah, exactly. And at first if you had it more than the second one, I don’t the second has anything. But we’re actually midway through recording an album now, and we’re using very tasteful keyboard and Hammond organ and that kind of stuff and doing some vocals and stuff too, so a new crop of vocals and stuff, so it’s a little bit different. I don’t know, for some reason I get the skids and anybody’s synthesizer. I just think 80% of it is in.
Ben: Well, it’s funny because back then the synth meant a handful of usually cheesy sounds that was the only sound, that’s what synth meant. Now, synth means, for instance, I record with both synth, but I use various plug-ins that sound exactly like a vintage Rhodes or a B3 or the really cool old vintage synths like the ARP, et cetera. Of course, you and I can probably name plenty of great classic rock songs with those instruments in them, but it doesn’t necessarily mean cheesy, although I understand the skidoo feeling you get when the word comes up.
Jared: Definitely, we’re actually using a lot of, I guess, the word is weird, I don’t know. We’ve got some parts in the new album with [00:07:47 that sound] in it. We’ve got some parts with kazoos actually. Before you called me here, I was actually embarrassingly making my kazoo with some of the CDs that we have over here.
Ben: You’re practicing?
Ben: Why did you have to practice kazoo.
Jared: It got a very small sweet spot on it. It’s really weird.
Ben: That sounds like a line out of the next final tap, I’m sorry.
Jared: Yeah, it should be, huh? And we’re going to use some stylophone, too and things like that, so it should be fun.
Ben: Neat, so I already alluded to it, but what I hear in you guys is music, and what I think the fans of Bands Like Rush will like it is the in or the angle with anything Rush-related in Heavy Glow, and when I heard it, I thought, “Well, here is kind of, you know, there is a lot more to it.” I think those influences you list on your site are probably closer to the truth like Cream and those early 70’s hard rock plus some of the punk influences, but early Rush with the first two albums plus a little bit more prog change up, even in that early Rush but with the baritones, vocalist versus Getty Lee’s wail is how I would characterize this. It’s very cool, so you mix up the rhythmic and harmonic elements more than other bands who sound like you guys on the surface. What’s your approach to doing it? Are you guys that conscious or is that just a music you hear on your head?
Jared: It’s probably a little bit of both. I have a really good rhythm section. Dan and Joe are really good at turning the beat up in their head. Do you know what I mean? We’ll just turn the whole thing around. And in some of it, too, it’s just we don’t want to do the same thing over and over. So I think with the music, there is a very tasteful prog rock element, in the sense that it’s not your typical three-minute verse chorus, verse chorus with immediate bridge kind of song. It’s straightforward without being…
Jared: Yeah, it’s not predictable, but at the same time, I don’t want to make music for musicians only, do you know what I mean?
Jared: We could very easily get off on doing a 10-minute jam, and it would be really cool for us and the musicians in the room would high five us at the end of the night, but I don’t know. It’s all like instrumental masturbation, I don’t know. I’m just not…
Ben: Yeah, the funny term I heard though, they call it ‘achievement rock’.
Jared: Yeah, I would much rather just have taste volumes in the music. It’s something that might throw you a little bit for the sake of subtlety, but it doesn’t throw you so much that it’s distracting.
Ben: Right, cool.
Jared: Yeah, I appreciate the comparison to Rush, too. The first thing that I think of when I think of Rush is working, man. I think we probably talked about that the last time too. But I can’t tell you how many times I’d be working outside or something and then that song would come on, and I was just go with it. It’s actually the best thing I ever…
Ben: Yeah, that’s exactly the vintage I was thinking of.
Jared: Yeah, and it’s very super simple song. I think there is a really cheap archs, and then the guitar solo breaks often are almost kind of a riff, but the guitar solo is so hooky that it catches up anyway. It’s got that jam prog rock bit to that, I don’t know.
Ben: Oh, I agree. So what’s up with you guys lately? Do you guys have any big gigs you want to promote or events or albums? You alluded to something you’re working on now, but now is the chance, anything going on?
Jared: Yeah, definitely, we are halfway through an album right now, so that should be out here, hopefully, in the next few months. It’s going to be our first full length. We’re pretty excited about it. Our last EP, ‘The Filth & The Fury’, was just nominated for best rock album of the year here in San Diego. Every year San Diego has a music awards. They’ve doing it for 25-26 years or something like that. Not only it, you see, it got nominated for best rock album of the year, so that’s just the big news here lately, so I’m pretty excited about it. If any of your listeners have not heard it yet. They should go and check it out definitely.
Ben: Cool, I always include one or two songs. I think by picking the favorite or two favorites and intersperse them within our conversation. Cool, great, so Jared, this has been great talking to you. Again, we’ll stay in touch and thanks for talking to us.