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'We Just Want To Be Bigger Than Oasis': Heavy Lungs Talk Self-Worth And New EP 'Measure'

Wednesday, 09 October 2019 Written by Helen Payne

Thanks to their explosive live set, storming singles and kinship with Idles, things are as exciting for Bristol-based band Heavy Lungs as they are for the noise-driven post-punk scene that’s thriving across the UK at the moment: very.

In the two years since their formation, the band have undoubtedly earned their place at that already hectic table, managing to secure festival slots at Glastonbury, 2000trees, and Camden Rocks, to name a few, with an extensive headline tour in the diary for the autumn and the arrival of their second EP just a day away.

So what can you expect when you rock up to a Heavy Lungs show? “Tinnitus,” says frontman Danny Nedelko ⁠— yes, that Danny Nedelko ⁠— a smirk audible down the phone. “Just tinnitus, and a bit more tinnitus.” It’s the first in a succession of deadpan jokes and silliness from the Bristol-via-Ukraine vocalist, and it lands unexpectedly.

While his lyrics touch on anxieties, lack of fulfilment, jealousy and various difficult-to-unpack introverted ideas, when he’s not yelling deep and animalistically into a microphone, he’s a lighthearted joker. Discussing the band’s desire to be bigger than Oasis he said, “We just want to play Knebworth, you know, four, five days in a row,” later threatening an entire set of Lighthouse Family covers on their upcoming tour.

All jokes aside, listening to the band’s new EP, ‘Measure’, it’s easy to see what Nedelko means about the tinnitus. Their chaotic brilliance, made up of tempestuous distortion and hellish wails, is captured in essence by talented producer and pal of the band Alex Greaves, who the singer considers a vital cog in the Heavy Lungs machine. “Alex is a completely irreplaceable element,” says Nedelko, tripping over his words as he gushes about his mate. “Unfortunately for him, I think he’s in with us now. For better or worse, he’s our guy.”

Heavy Lungs are proud of their record and, in typical Bristol fashion, “really stoked” about its forthcoming release. Compared to their previous output — a split single with Idles and 2018’s ‘Abstract Thoughts’ EP, featuring five songs recorded in three days — Nedelko says that for this record they took their time, spending seven days “fine-tuning, well-rehearsed, and more focused”, resulting in material that’s “stronger, more concise, and more thoughtful.” But nothing is ever perfect.

“It would be really righteous if we said this is the best thing that has come out in 2019! It’s not, but hopefully one day we’ll be better,” he says openly. “Of course there’s always going to be that, ‘Oh my God, the vocals could be louder in that song.’ It will drive me insane for the rest of this EP. I’ll never let it go.”

Spending more time on things comes with its own pressures. Nedelko is humble about his insecurities when detailing long days in the studio. “My parts come at the end. For me personally, for four or six days I sit there, watching the guys absolutely smash their parts. The rest of the band are incredibly talented musicians. I get carried away sometimes in rehearsals, listening to them, going, ‘Wow, I’m actually in a band with these guys.’ I was actually a bit stressed about delivering vocals that would match.”

This idea of measuring up is also lyrically a big theme on the upcoming record. The title itself conjures ideas of self-worth and its importance, and the notion of meeting both your own and others' expectations. “How do you measure your own self worth?” Nedelko ponders, citing his inspiration as some passing observations of the past year.

The conversation quickly turns philosophical as he reels off more questions: “Are you a better person than you were a year ago? Have you achieved more things? Are you applying yourself? Are you doing everything you should be doing?” Deep breaths.

“It’s to do with being okay with your own age”, he notes, diving further into the depths of raging lead single (Bit Of A) Birthday. “A birthday is a reminder that you are another year older, and a bit of pressure and stress to see if you’ve achieved what you wanted to achieve.” The song itself, with its grizzly overdriven guitars and beefy bassline, is a middle finger to the stress of all that. “Also, stop buying me fucking cards, you know?” 

Heavy Lungs’ goal for their new EP is for it to have a positive effect on someone’s life. “Hopefully we will continue to do our best to achieve that, and create better art,” Nedelko says candidly. “You know that thing when you listen to a song and for some reason just one lyric resonates with you, when even that one chord progression just makes you feel better… I was just hoping that if someone was having a fucking shit time, they’ll listen to ‘Measure’, and kind of realise actually, don’t take their own talents for granted, and feel more confident in themselves.”

It’s a heartwarming moment, before he reverts back to the jokes. “Hopefully we can keep doing that until we get shit. Then we’ll reinvent ourselves and get good again. You know, do a Damon Albarn. Or become the immortal prince that is Nick Cave,” the vocalist quips, before concluding that the new EP is “definitely the best thing” they’ve done. ‘Measure’ is a brilliant gut-punch of noise and chaos that will lead Heavy Lungs to bigger stages and better venues, but perhaps not Knebworth just yet.

‘Measure’ is out on October 10, with UK tour dates starting in Reading on October 11, and concluding in Bristol on November 16.

Heavy Lungs Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri October 11 2019 - READING University Students Union
Sat October 19 2019 - OXFORD Ritual Union
Mon November 04 2019 - TUNBRIDGE WELLS Forum
Tue November 05 2019 - BRIGHTON Green Door Store
Wed November 06 2019 - LONDON Camden Assembly
Fri November 08 2019 - LEEDS Key Club
Sun November 10 2019 - SHEFFIELD Record Junkee
Mon November 11 2019 - GLASGOW Audio
Wed November 13 2019 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Think Tank?
Thu November 14 2019 - STOKE Sugarmill
Fri November 15 2019 - LIVERPOOL Phase one
Sat November 16 2019 - BRISTOL Thekla

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