The Heavy Heavy: “It’s been a baptism of fire”

Meet the Brighton duo dazzling America with dreamy 60s rock and roll

It takes some British bands years to build a following in the States, if they ever do. The Heavy Heavy has seduced America with six songs. Off the back of their debut EP, Life and Life Only, Georgie Fuller and Will Turner are wrapping up a 45 date tour, bringing their sun-drenched, 60s-inspired rock and roll to enamoured audiences all across the USA.

“It’s been a long time on the road,” says Georgie into the phone. She and Will are speaking on the move, driving from Salt Lake City to Fort Collins, one of their final dates. “It kind of feels crazy to think about when we were in Nashville at the start.” There’s not a lot of rest waiting for them after it’s all done either. “We go straight to Rolling Stone Beach Festival in Germany, and then we do, like, three dates in the UK and then we go back out to Europe. So we’re not really stopping until mid-December.”

The Heavy Heavy - All My Dreams (Official Video)

The Heavy Heavy are at the start of what could potentially be an astronomical rise, already garnering an international fanbase since the release of Life And Life Only in June of this year. On November 15, they will be one of the First Fifty bands debuted by The Great Escape Festival, the UK’s premiere discovery ground for new music, as they take to the stage of London’s Oslo.

“That’s going to be such a highlight for us,” says Georgie. “Particularly for me, because I’m from Brighton. The Great Escape has always been – I mean, it is kind of for everyone in the UK – that place where you can go and get your foot in the door.”

It feels very likely that their Oslo show will provide a similar opportunity for UK audiences – a chance to get a foot in the door before The Heavy Heavy rise out of easy reach.

The Heavy Heavy - Miles And Miles (Official Video)

Can you tell me about where The Heavy Heavy began?

Will: So, me and Georgia have been making music for sort of 10 years, on and off, working on various different projects. I was in another band doing similar sort of retro stuff to The Heavy Heavy and that kind of wound up at the same time as I was trying Georgie on some demos of that sound. And then all of a sudden, The Heavy Heavy was born with all this vocal stacking thing going on. So then we started to try to set things up just before COVID.

Georgie: You can imagine how that went.

Will: We didn’t get too far with that. Since then we’ve put the band together and since February this year, it’s been flat out.

Georgie: All systems go.

How did you spend that lockdown period? Were you passing stuff back and forward between you?

Will: Well, I moved to London to move in with George. So we were together. We were just writing music and we were both trying to find work at the time, so it was kind of a tumultuous, but also good for the music.

Georgie: It was very good for the music and actually, speaking to a lot of creatives since, a lot of people thrived in that period. More than I think a lot of us thought we would.

The Heavy Heavy - Man of the Hills (Official Live Session)

You must have been very ready to play for audiences by the time lockdown ended.

Georgie: Yeah, absolutely. It’s kind of weird. Everything feels like it’s happened in the most organic way.

What was your first official gig like?

Georgie: Our first official gig was supporting Black Pumas.

Will: It was in front of like 2000 people in Oslo.

Georgie: That was absolutely nuts. Because before that, we’d done like six gigs in Brighton and Portsmouth. And then management and label got involved and they were like, “You’re playing massive capacity venues with Black Pumas.”

What was amazing about opening for Pumas is that their fans are proper music lovers. So they get down to the support, because they know that they’ll have been specially picked, you know, and they’re hungry to discover new bands. It was super amazing and pretty scary.

Will: It was a baptism of fire.

Have the nerves eased off now that you’re so far into this tour?

Will: Yeah, I’ve never cared for that myself.

Georgie: But I get stage fright. Well, I don’t get stage fright – I get nervous. I get excited. Yeah. But it’s definitely easing off.

It sounds like from the very beginning you both had quite a professional approach to this project – it wasn’t just the two of you messing around with music.

Georgie: 100%. We’re not 22 and just throwing something together. We care about the sound, we care about the look. Even the way we behave on tour with crew… you just can’t be an asshole basically.

Do you think that’s something some 22-year-old bands maybe haven’t figured out yet?

Georgie: Yeah, I think there’s still this feeling of like, “I’m in a rock and roll, I’m gonna get f*cked up.” And no one likes you when you’re like that. There’s a lot of stuff to do, there’s a lot of moving parts, so get it together.

The Heavy Heavy - Go Down River (Karma Sessions)

You both must have been quite grateful then to meet another person who shared your perspective.

Georgie: Very much so, but I suppose we’ve known each other for 10 years, so we’ve always known that. It was just that right moment where the catalyst happened and it came together, but we always knew it’d be good.

There’s been a lot of excitement surrounding your debut EP. What’s that journey been like with Life And Life Only?

Georgie: It’s been really amazing because obviously – I don’t want to say it’s ‘just’ an EP, but it is, you know, it’s not a full-length album. And here in the States, we’re in the Top 10 on Triple A Radio, and we’re a band from the UK with six songs out – how has that happened? The feeling of people being into this sound, people loving it as much as we do, is really exciting.

What were your influences when you set about putting that sound down?

Will: It’s all very much 60s – Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers, Janis Joplin, Delaney & Bonnie, Fleetwood Mac, also some contemporary stuff as well. We’re kind of basing the sound around late 60s LA. But other people we like, like Michael Kiwanuka and the Black Keys, they’re all in there…

Georgie: Leon Bridge, Father John Misty…

Will: So we’re just putting it all together in a big pot.

Georgie: Yeah. All the sounds that we love.

Did you listen to 60s music growing up?

Georgie: We both grew up heavily into that era. Our parents were just injecting it into our veins from a very early age.

The Heavy Heavy - Miles and Miles (Official Live Session)

Do you think you would have liked to be in that scene in the 60s, making music?

Will: Oh, definitely.

Georgie: Oh, yeah.

Will: I’d have had hair down to my feet.

Georgie: I mean, I’m not sure about a lot of the human rights aspects of that era. I always kind of romanticise it, and actually, I think, if I really was there it really might not be as great as it is in my fantasy. But I’d definitely want to spend a day. I’d just hang out with Janis.

What kind of music are you listening to at the moment?

Will: A lot of Dope Lemon and Babe Rainbow… there’s some cool stuff going around.

You guys were signed to American record label and, as you were saying, you’ve very quickly found an audience out there. Do you find that the audience in the States differs much from audiences in the UK?

Will: To be honest, we’ve not done too much in the UK to really have a good enough reference. The Americans are certainly very receptive and vocal. In that sense, maybe they’re slightly more up for it? But I would say we haven’t done enough in the UK to really have a reference, because we’ve done, I think, 45 gigs over here on this tour. And we’ve done about six in Europe.

Georgie: We’ve only done one in England.

Will: We’ll let you know in about a month!

You’ve had a really interesting journey – a lot of bands coming up just playing their hometown for quite a while. It takes a lot of groups years to break the States and you guys have gone straight over!

Georgie: I know! Well, we’re kind of lucky in that way that both our management and label are over here. So yeah, they just threw us in at the deep end. And I mean, it’s pretty cool.

It hasn’t been a culture shock at all?

Will: Oh, it’s quite different over here, but not too much.

Georgie: I’d just say everyone is so friendly. We haven’t met a horrible person yet. They love live music. They’re so appreciative, they’re like “Thank you so much for coming!” Like in Salt Lake City – it’s not like a massive events town so I think…

Will: They’re just happy to see you there.

Georgie: It’s like, “Oh my god some live music!”

The Heavy Heavy - Real Love Baby (Father John Misty Cover)

What are your aims for 2023?

Will: Do loads more gigs and festivals, get out there so more people hear us, and make an album if we get some time.

Is an album in the works?

Will: Oh, yeah. We’re going to get going on that properly soon. But yes, it’s coming.

How are you approaching the album?

Will: At this point we’re not conceptualising anything, it’ll just be as many really, really good songs as we can put in a package. I think down the road maybe we’ll do something conceptual. For now, we’re just gonna put more songs out, I think.

Georgie: Yeah, because we really didn’t expect this to happen. So the album will be an expansion of what tThe Heavy Heavy is at this point.

If you hadn’t formed The Heavy Heavy, what do you guys think you would be doing now?

Georgie: Crying myself to sleep.

Will: I’d be putting wires underneath floors. No, I’d be making music in some form, but it would be much less fun.

The Heavy Heavy have been named one of Ticketmaster’s Breakthrough 2023 artists, and they will play The Great Escape festival in Brighton in May, with tickets available here.