The HEAP's funk takes its first leap outside of Georgia
This Saturday, The HEAP is playing the Windjammer with Drivin' N Cryin'.
Who is The HEAP, you ask? They are Athens, Ga.'s own nine-piece funk explosion.
The band consists of a four-piece horns section, two bassists, a drummer, an additional percussionist and keyboard player.
For frontman Bryan Howard, The HEAP is a dream that has become actualized.
"We had talked about having a band with two basses for years," Howard said. "I feel completely blessed playing with these folks."
The idea for a two-bass band derived from Howard's respect and appreciation for Morphine, an early '90s band that incorporated elements of blues and jazz into rock music.
Morphine featured two drummers on a regular basis. Howard and fellow bassist Jeff Rieter discussed the possibility of a band that featured two bassists, and before long, The HEAP was formed.
The other musicians fell into place. Howard was living with drummer Ian Werden, who he had shared the stage with in a previous musical endeavor called Slackdaddy.
A good friend recommended trumpet player Jeff Crouch, who personally recommended saxophone players Marc Gilley and Chris Costigan and keyboardist Paul Kim.
They also recruited baritone saxophone player Kate Mikulka, daughter of Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker. Diego Catalan, the percussionist, was the last addition to the band.
They played their first show with the finalized line-up in May 2007.
The result of this musical amalgamation is a colorful blend of big band, funk, soul and jam. The songs are structured around tight, synchronized bass licks, and the horns section provides added flare and color throughout the songs. The band pulls influences from both contemporary music and music of the past. "It has an old school feel," Howard said. "We're taking what we've learned listening to Stax and Motown and putting our twist on it."
Although the show at the Windjammer this Saturday will be The HEAP's first show outside of Georgia, the band plans to make Charleston a regular stop on its tour schedule.
The show serves to promote its first full-length release, "Deluxe." The record was engineered by Bill Doss of Apples in Stereo and mixed by Matt Yelton, the front-of-house manager for the Pixies.
"We're touring for 'Deluxe,' " Howard said. "We need to get out and spread the word about what we do."
The HEAP is opening for Drivin' N Cryin', who is releasing its first studio album in 12 years.