Grand Rapids-based Heaters is composed of Josh Korf, Nolan Krebs, and Andrew Tamlyn. Originating from Midland, MI, Nolan and Andrew maintained contact about music before either of them relocated to Grand Rapids. With their most recent local show at Founders Brewery still fresh in my mind, I sat down with Nolan Krebs who shared insight on Heaters.
Krebs cites music from the 60’s and 70’s such as The Ventures and Pink Floyd as major influences. However, it was the more recently released, debut album by The Night Beats, an American psychedelic, garage and soul group based out of Seattle, Washington, that spurred a connection between Tamlyn and himself and led to the formation of Heaters. Krebs was drawn to Grand Rapids after becoming familiar with the former band Haunted Leather. Prior to Heaters’ existence, Tamlyn and he worked with a 5-piece project and played under the name Plantains. Self-described as “rock music with a weird psychedelic twist,” Krebs finds Heaters’ sound unique in the Grand Rapids music scene.
From his perspective, Krebs is not sold on the idea the psychedelic rock scene is as strong as folk or metal. He would like to grow by continuing to curate their sound that is more riff based and embodies a feeling of “groovy”. He is excited to collaborate with other artists in Grand Rapids, including James Allen.
Krebs is excited about Heaters’ varied key signatures and tempos. He said he writes music with a basis that is “simple and chill” with standard time signatures. Tamlyn often contributes a spin onto what Krebs writes by adding varied layers of complexity and tension to their musical atmosphere. Their live performance has graced the stage locally at Founders Brewery as well as in major cities across the U.S. as a touring band.
Krebs said New York City is the city that keeps drawing him back and hopes to relocate there. Signing with Beyond Beyond is Beyond, the NYC-based label segued to a nation-wide tour this past summer. They have acquired international performances and continue to gain heat[MJ1] [CJM2] [CJM3] [CJM4] in the underground up-and-coming generation of contemporary music. Toronto, ON will host the Heaters in late November and in early 2016 the band is Europe-bound.
Heaters most recent album, Holy Wave Pool, is currently available for your listening pleasure released in shimmery aquatic blue vinyl. For this review, I dug into deeper album archives to see the root and progression of their musical evolution.
The foundation maintained by the drums throughout the discography is an instantly attractive element juxtaposed by a tempo speed that is increased and decreased throughout. As noted by Krebs, these variances add complexity to their unique sound. Drummer Korf consistently contributes a simpler basis that engages listeners.
To quote Krebs, “groovy” encapsulates the guitar and bass, both roles that Tamlyn and he interchange. The psychedelic beachy bass and guitar sounds inspire nostalgic feelings towards simpler times without smart phones, flat screens, or electric cars. Heaters’ carefully cultivated sound is comprised of distorted guitar and wavering vocals that retains a modern spin on a variety of musical genres from multiple eras.
The simplicity of a three person musical project keeps their sound seemingly personal and maintains a unique fluidity of transition during and between songs. Krebs and Tamlyn contributing vocals has served them well thus far, and their ability to collaborate to keep a fresh sound, as well as their performance through seamless instrumental switches. Time will tell their ability and skill to adapt this style as they grow.
My only gripe with Heaters’ sound is the constantly distorted vocals. The myriad well-articulated musical sounds and beautiful album artwork is mesmorizing yet I cannot help but want to hear their lyrics being sung more clearly. It is a constant distraction and the acoustic strain leaves much to be interpreted. It appears to be a subculturally-based sound but one that could date them.
“Levitate Thigh” first appears on their EP and personifies their sound profile and resonates surf-rock --not in a corny, cookie-cutter Beach Boys style. This song is catchy; the tempo variance is exciting, it showcases the guitar frequencies, and overall demonstrates Krebs and Tamlyn’s contributions carved to complement Korf’s pace. It can be found on the EP and Mean Green. Their EP demonstrates origins of Heaters’ upbeat sound with loud exclamations and offers a less polished sound. During the EP's release, they performed in cramped basements of local house shows. It was a pleasure to pay the same amount ($5) to enjoy their performance on the beautiful stage of Founders this past month.
Available via [https://heaters.bandcamp.com/album/ep]
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Released Spring 2014
(last updated February, 2016)