My regard for the unheard music of the world is widely known, and as a result I get emails from friends all over the place, telling me I should check out this band or that one. Most of the time, I have an enjoyable experience, but I move back to the favorites in my playlists fairly immediately. Sometimes it’s just not my cup of tea at all. Then, on occasion, utter magic happens, and I can’t stop listening to, thinking about, or humming along with a particular band.
My introduction to Heyrocco, a Charleston trio, happened much like this. A good friend emailed me video from a live performance while she was right there at the stage rocking along. Through the resulting motion sickness (you know how the camera can’t sit still when the person filming is dancing like a crazy person), I could hear a lot of promise. She followed up with some YouTube videos, and a new obsession was born.
The first outing is a three-track EP full of clever lyrics, imaginative music, and rhythms that will make you sit up and take notice. My personal favorite is Floorboards, but The American Tourist and Brothers also get quite a bit of play. I recommend checking them out, to be sure. Don’t get too complacent with this little grouping of songs, though. I’ve seen the future in the form of four tracks from their upcoming album, COMFORT, and these guys have taken their style and musicality to a whole new level.
In preparation for the album, I got to share a few words with the band. Their entry into the music scene was as far from normal as it gets. Nathan says, “We were all born on a remote island stranded somewhere between Cuba and The Bahamas. All we had were several bottles of water and an assortment of different instruments to pass the time. After we adapted to the environment and learned to hunt with sharp sticks and our bare hands (as well as play music) we all joined the high school jazz band.” I think what he’s trying to say here is that the formation of the band is actually an age-old story, but they were fortunate enough to have the talent and drive to make true music and not a rehash of someone else’s work.
From the high school jazz band, their first ensemble was born. “We realized there that we shared a love of music and started this little group called Cole Train with another female vocalist. That project was more of getting our feet wet in gigging and attempting to write music more so than a real touring band. Led Zeppelin and Hendrix were everything, and it felt good to get that out of our system.”
As with many first-time outings, Cole Train simply wasn’t meant to be. Nathan explains, “Unfortunately, things just weren’t working out though creatively, so we had to say goodbye to our singer, and we became a trio under the name Heyrocco. The three of us have just always had such chemistry in the garage playing all kinds of songs and sounds. We hang out and do a lot together even aside from music, and it’s incredibly fun to pursue your dream with your besties. I highly recommend it.”
While it sounds like this is just another garage band trying to make it big, that couldn’t be further from the truth. These guys are serious, and they make some serious music…that might make you laugh a little bit. They compare their sound to food like this: “If you are a picky eater, you will not enjoy our music. I only like my hamburgers with cheese and a little ketchup, a little mustard – but our music is like a thick, juicy, 100% Angus beef burger, with lots of lettuce, tomato, red onions, blue onions, pickles, barbecue sauce, cereal, and milk.” It sounds gross, but I assure it’s not. It’s layered, with each bit of the meal delicious in its own way.
Also setting themselves apart from other “garage bands” or “bestie bands”, Heyrocco has a plan. Taking over the world is only a small part of that plan, and they know just how to do it. Self-professed fans of The Antlers, they aren’t afraid to glean knowledge from the musicians they admire. Nathan says, “They just really make great records and that is something that we would like to always accomplish.” Heyrocco has supported some great bands, too, including Mutemath, Miniature Tigers, Scars on 45, and Wintersleep. They don’t just admire the music from their idols, either. They know the greats got to be that way for a reason. “We are hoping that COMFORT will be heard all around the world, and we plan to put in the leg work to make that happen. That’s what I feel our short-term inspiration is at the moment. As far as long term goals, bands like Radiohead and Death Cab have proved that once you have fans, keep those fans happy and make great records!”
To accomplish this goal, they know they have to grow and change, which is something a lot of bands refuse to do. The key to longevity is reinvention, and they’ve already started to do this. The Mixtape EP was a very strong first outing, but they aren’t satisfied with it. The band says, “Mixtape was almost like a high school relationship that started out great, but then graduation, growing up, and college just got in the way. We spent a bit more money in a beautiful studio just because we always thought that was what needed to be done, but things slowly got sour, and our hearts just weren’t in that project anymore.” COMFORT promises to be something different, as they explain, “…our sound has progressed into something completely different and it’s almost like this COMFORT era coming up is gonna be a completely different band. Well, not that drastic, but we are very curious to see how it all pans out.”
I’m curious, too. We all like to see the people we like succeed, and that desire is multiplied when there is a lot of talent involved. The guys seem to have a handle on what success really means, which means they’ll likely be happy with whatever comes their way. Heyrocco says, “In the big picture of things though, Heyrocco doesn’t mean anything to anyone except for a couple thousand fans we have gained so far. So I would say, yes we are successfully moving forward, but I don’t think we have reached success just yet.” Fortunately, they have a very healthy idea of what success actually is. In their words, “Success is an idea along the lines of happiness. The phrase ‘you choose to be happy’ could also work with ‘you choose to be successful.’”
That’s a lot of wisdom right there, so it may come as a shock to learn that these guys are just barely out of high school. In fact, one member still hasn’t taken his final exams. Their ages shouldn’t come into play at all, but it’s pretty hard to ignore the fact that they’re thinking, writing, and performing on a much more mature level than most other teen musicians out there. It just makes me wonder what we’re in for later down the line as these guys really start to come into their own as artists. I think they’re primed to take the world by storm, and COMFORT is just going to be the beginning.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Heyrocco is now in a position to get this new record out so that everyone can hear Rave Monks, which they all agree is their favorite. This, as they eloquently state, is an “ass-shaking” song, featuring driving guitars, ethereal vocals, and inventive percussion. If you get a chance, seek out The Boston Marathon and Young, which are both excellent examples of the growth and maturity this album features when compared to the Mixtape EP. Staples, as the band says, “…has always been very motivational to us and sort of expresses our longing to travel the world and get out of South Carolina as fast as we can to make new friends and fans in all kinds of places we would have never seen if we didn’t give this thing a shot. It has a bittersweet feeling, and the name COMFORT comes from that.”
The album will drop on April third, when it will be available on iTunes, Bandcamp, and Amazon, and the guys will start their spring tour soon after that. If you’re interested in checking them out, visit their Facebook page, where you can hear some tracks and see their performance schedules. You can also follow them on Twitter and keep up with them on Tumblr, if you’re a social media kind of person.