Scene and Heard: The Heavy Pets
The Heavy Pets is a rock ‘n’ roll band comprised of Jeff Lloyd and Mike Garulli on vocals and guitar, Jim Wuest on keyboard, Jamie Newitt on the drums and Tony D’Amato on the bass. Although they remain a rock ‘n’ roll band at heart, The Heavy Pets true genre is hybridized: a fusion of funk that is jumbled with jazz, blended with rhythm and blues, and reincarnated by reggae.
The evolution of The Heavy Pets is a long and interesting one, but a short version does exist. Original members Lloyd and Garulli garnered and grew the group since their high school days in Goshen, New York. The band continued to develop throughout the years, existing under a variety of different names and adding and subtracting members along the way. It wasn’t until the original two, settled in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Wuest followed suit shortly after) in 2005 that the Heavy Pets were officially formed.
Today, the band effortlessly moves between genres, creating a synthesized sound and coinciding message that is comprised of songs written by all five of the members. When asked about being called a reggae band, Jeff Lloyd responded with,
“I don’t mind it. People are naturally going to find ways of quantifying and labeling your music. But I think there was a natural reggae vibe that just came about when Mike and I moved from New York to Florida and were writing a lot of songs together. For a lot of those songs we were literally sitting on the sand drinking Coronas. I think that just kind of seeped into the writing. The reggae thing came naturally, it wasn’t something we decided we wanted to be a part of our identity. I think we do it well and in a different way than I’d heard before. Its more reggae-infused rock. At the end of the day, we’re a rock and roll band.”
Song(s) To Know:
Released in 2014 on the “Rags and Aces” EP, Mike Garulli’s track, “Movie Star,” debuted as an upbeat bluegrass number, until the band rerecorded it as an indie, reggae-pop tune. The song’s catchy lyrics always prove to be a crowd favorite.
Due to The Heavy Pets packed schedule of constant touring, they have been releasing a series of short EPs. These songs are more vocal, less instrumental, and stray from the style of a traditional jam band. Recorded in the same studio with mastering engineer Paul Kronk, “Rags and Aces” was the most recent release, with the next two-track EP “Stolen Smiles” set to come out in November.
Jeff Lloyd describes the reason for these short records as, “First and foremost, artistically, it’s a huge motivator and catalyst for our creativity to know that we could wake up, write a song, and in two months, it’ll be out on a vinyl record. That’s exciting. Necessity bore that idea, and it’s worked really well for us.”
In addition, the band has been a part of SIRIUSXM’s #JAMFiles, and will be playing their 1,000 show surrounded by fans and forest at Suwannee Hulaween.
The Heavy Pets graced the spacious, one-of-a-kind outdoor stage at The JAM for an early set that began at 10:30 p.m. Casually dressed, all five members were in their positions, prepared to engage the crowd and impress. The band played popular tunes from past albums and new material that’s going to be released on the next EP “Stolen Smiles,” as well as songs that are so recent they have yet to be recorded.
The vocal vitality ranged from sweet and sultry to sanguine, but easily shifted to become energetic and frenetic. According to guitarist Jeff Lloyd, the band is more willing to take risks at smaller shows such as this one.
“I think we’re constantly trying to bridge the gap between festival performances and club shows because they both have some very unique benefits. The festival performances with a lot of people are very high energy, and it’s hard not to get drawn into all of that. But at the club shows, we’re a little more experimental. We’re more willing to try things and take chances that we wouldn’t take on a big festival stage,” Jeff Lloyd said.
Future Plans for The Pets:
The Heavy Pets are set to play an array of upcoming shows and festivals in the next few months, followed by a tour that will transport their talents to the northeast. For everyone’s favorite horrifying holiday, The Heavy Pets will be haunting The Funky Biscuit’s Halloween Costume Ball alongside The Main Squeeze in south Florida, until they make their way to Live Oak to perform their 1,000th show at Suwannee Hulaween. During Thanksgiving time, they’ll head up north to tour and play alongside artists such as The Nth Power, The Motet, Conspirator, and EOTO. Finally, the band will return to Florida for New Years Eve, to play their not-yet-announced Phish after party in Miami.
The Heavy Pets are set to release another EP from the series in November, called “Stolen Smiles,” which has been described by Jeff Lloyd as sexy, energetic, and soulful. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, The Heavy Pets are hoping to head back to the recording studio in January to work on their new material.
Featured photo courtesy of: musicyouneed.net