Wednesday 21 December 2016

Interview with Tav Palumbo from HEAVY TRAFFIC

Heavy Traffic was born by the efforts of Ian Caddick (guitars) and Tav Palumbo (drums, vocals) a couple of years ago. The guys have were enthusiastic to create about 5 (or 6?!) records since then and in December 2016 Twin Earth Records released their new album “Plastic Surgery”.

This album was recorded with new members – Davud Grzedzinski (bass) and Dan Bradica (drums) who added their influences in Heavy Traffic sound. So what hides behind that title? A crazy combination of stoner, electric psychedelic rock and shoegazing stuff performed with punk-styled approach. I’ve trying to sort out how it works, and Tav Palumbo himself helps me with that.

Hi Tav! Let's start from the origin of Heavy Traffic - how did you meet each other?

Ian and I met each other in Santa Cruz and we were playing in band called Spanish Moss. That broke up and we went on to form this band. It started as a home recording project and we were mainly focusing on writing for about two years before moving to Brooklyn where we met Dan and Davey, our rhythm section. With them on-board we were able to put together a good live band and were able to adopt a tighter and heavier sound.

How did you elaborate your sound to the one we hear on your full-length "Plastic Surgery"?

Davey and Dan brought a lot of recording experience and insight to the table which was great. We recorded in a different space where we did live to tape as a full band with better isolation that allowed us to experiment with new recording techniques, whereas before the guitar and drums only composed the initial live base tracks and we mostly in the same room.

What influenced on your sound? Some of your songs sound lo-fi and chaotic, were these loose structures and raw production done consciously?

The fidelity and the structure of the tracks are mostly a result of working within our means on 80s Tascam tape machines.

Okay… Then let’s speak straight. What kind of bands influence on Heavy Traffic?

We really like Japanese psychedelic rock bands like Boris and High Rise. German krautrock artists like Holger Czukay and Amon Duul ii. Bands that can be aggressive are but also can embrace a sense of levity.

Heavy Traffic – See Right Through

Heavy Traffic’s bandcamp shows that you have seven albums; how did you manage to create these amount of records in such a brief period?

After the last project, Ian and I we really intent on doing as much as we possibly could ourselves and pushing our skills of home recording. Working with only another person and focusing solely on writing and recording probably had a lot to do with it.

How long did you compose the material for "Plastic Surgery"? What are the strongest sides of this record from your point of view?

Most of the material on this album with a few exceptions were tracks written by me and Ian while living in Santa Cruz. If the record is interesting its probably has to do with the many different influences coming together when we write and how easily we were able to mesh together as a four piece.

Which song on “Plastic Surgery” album represents the best of Heavy Traffic?

Acid Sweater” was our first song and we believe it represent a lot of what we are trying to do. That said the title track is representative of some of our more current influences.

Yes, “Acid Sweater” is a nice title, what are the lyrics about?

A few years ago one of our friends donated a nice robe with a dragon on it for us to use with a video we making. Around the same time we acquired a technicolor lined fur coat that we dubbed the acid sweater. Its lyrics are loosely about processing internal and external experience in times of purgatory or in between states.

What are your requirements to the sound your instruments?

We function on a lot of analog effects that we have picked up over some years. We really like Death by Audio effects. Ian uses his Fuzz War Overload and both of us use Echo Dreams.

Where did you record "Plastic Surgery"?

We recorded over a long weekend last February 2016 at my parents house outside Buffalo while they were out of town. It was nice to get out of the city a spend a few days fully focused, hopefully we didn’t bother the neighbors to much.

How do you share duties in the band? Do you have a main song-writer in the band or does everyone put their effort in equal measure?

It’s always been a shard process when we assemble the songs. This album and the next one we are working on continue that idea, if someone has a good song we play it.

What meaning did you put in “Plastic Surgery” title? Do you care much about lyrical content of your songs?

Ian would probably go on about how its representative of American values, but I always thought it was a good analog to our sound; carving and slicing through lots of juicy parts, rearranging things in unnatural ways. We like to use vocals more as another instrument, and there is usually more concern with the phonetics of a given phrase than any lyrical sense.

American values? Can you enlighten this poor Russian boy on that subject?

It seems sometimes that its easier to assimilate an identity here in the States that isn’t yours than developing the one you have.

Man, you live in Brooklyn, NY; how many opportunities does this city provide to such bands like Heavy Traffic?

A lot of our favorite venues have shut down in this last year; we really enjoyed playing at Palisades and the work Leeor and Ariel were doing. It can be difficult to plug into existing communities but we were fortunate enough to meet some great people who have helped us out. The King Pizza community is also something special happening locally. Greg and company have been really supportive and a lot of fun to work with.

By the way, why is Heavy Traffic?!

Our name comes from the 70s animated movie by Ralph Bakshi about a sexually frustrated virgin trying to get laid in NY.

Heavy Traffic “White & Green”

There's the bonus track "White & Green" in my promo, it sounds pretty refreshing. What’s the story behind this song?

It’s one of our oldest songs that has a few other recordings. Actually something won’t wrong with that recording with one of the tracks and we decided to leave it out for that reason and due to time limitations for the release.

What are your plans consider the next full-length album? And what would you like to change in your sound? Will you stay on this stoner doom way or will you turn to more sludgy sound?

We are hoping to record next with a higher fidelity. Our new songs are all new material and fold in more variety from our growth as a four piece over the last year. We are getting a bit more chaotic in some ways; Ian has been getting into more aggressive heavy styles of metal and punk and the next record will reflect that in the songs he writes.

Thanks for the thoughtful questions and for highlighting what we and other underground bands are up to. We are excited to get this release out there!

Words by Aleks Evdokimov and Tav Palumbo