On a recent Sunday, instead of trying out my awesome new driver at the golf course, I'm trying to herd the Heavy Pets into making just a little sense for the sake of a phone interview. Because, man, are they wasted. So stoned that their manager, Alex, handles half the questions. And he's stoned too.
They're on the road to a "Jeff and Mike acoustic set" at The Dive Bar, a steady gig near their Fort Lauderdale lair. When I ask them what bands they might be compared to, they balk, insisting I give my own take. "Okay," I tell Mike, "I'll compare you to someone superobscure so that I can look cool and hip."
That was a lie. They're sort of like Phish, sort of like Particle. Jazzy, bluesy, folksy at times, tinted with reggae and prog-rock — your basic latter-day jam band but a lot better than what you're probably picturing. Just to scare them, though, I ask them if they'd rather be stuck on a desert island with either (a) an Animal Liberation Orchestra album or (b) a Wedding Present record.
"The Wedding Present?" Mike sputters, power-exhaling his smoke. "Is that a band?"
"Never mind," I retort. "A.L.O. or Dave whatsisname. Dave Matthews."
"That's like choosing between beer and weed," Mike drawls.
In the meantime, the Heavy Pets have been playing everywhere — at SXSW, where they performed at Club 115 with New Monsoon; the Langerado festival; and Gathering of the Vibes. Getting those gigs, along with accomplishing other goals — including the creation, marketing, and distribution of their 2007 full-length album, Whale — has happened without anyone's help. They're a self-managed juggernaut, and because of it, they're probably going to be huge someday.
And judging by their website (www.heavypets.com), it seems they have a quaint, Monty Python-esque view of life. Then there's the bizarre mechanical drawing for the cover of Whale. Are they, you know, big on Da Vinci — stuff like that? "I prefer De Vito," says one of them (I forget who. See? It's contagious!). "And the fact that the original score from Throw Momma from the Train is no longer available on vinyl makes me a bit nervous." He pauses, and I can hear the hamster that runs his brain redlining the tachometer and begging for food pellets. "Do those music biz yahoos really think these 'cassette' things are gonna last?"
Why me, O God? I try. One. Last. Time. "Mike, what was your favorite toy when you were a child?"
Silence. Total, fricking silence. For a long time. I snort into the phone to hear if we're still connected.
Finally: "Count Chocula."
Damn dirty apes. If I were the Hawaiian Five-O, they'd be so arrested.
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