FRIENDSHIP and a deep-seated desire for sonic self-expression brought Heavy Lungs together back in May 2017. Immediately making their presence known in Bristol’s community-driven punk scene with their own incendiary take on the genre, the band have been on a frenetic spree ever since, further cementing their growing reputation with one blistering live show after another.
Fronted by none other than Danny Nedelko, namesake of the popular IDLES tune, it’s fair to say that Heavy Lungs have gained a considerable amount of attention in the short time they’ve been together; not only because of their well-documented association with IDLES and Nedelko’s inextricable ties with the Bristol band’s rapturous punk rock poeticism, but also because of their own raw musical output. Well-received on tour with Joe Talbot et al last year, their incendiary live presence continues to grow and incite chaos at every given opportunity.
Set to play Broadcast in Glasgow and Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh this summer in a run of dates that they have fondly named ‘The Wee Scottish Tour’, we caught up with Nedelko ahead of their eagerly anticipated shows:
“We’re terribly excited to be in Scotland in the summer. Last time we were here, we were supporting Idles and the crowd was wicked. It would be really nice to spend more than a single night in Scotland during our little summer rodeo”
Born from the same scene that brought us the likes of YOWL, LICE and the aforementioned IDLES, Bristol bears some notable resemblances with Glasgow’s own thriving and collaborative punk community. He said: “Bristol music scene is vibrant and constantly evolving. From punk to echo to folk there’s a plethora of good music. Everyone is friendly and supportive so there’s a strong sense of community between the artists”
And things have really stepped up for Heavy Lungs in the last 12 months. Despite only playing together for just over two years, it is a shift that really shone through on their recent EP ‘Straight to CD which arrived back in February. Containing some of their tightest and most focused material to date, it takes the static aggression of their debut and makes it even louder and more agile. In their own words “a collection of golden oldies and true blue tracks”, it is inspired by their “aggressively caring” relationships with one another. For all the love that is put into the EP, it is matched by their thrilling, take no prisoners attitude. However, there wasn’t a particular turning point for the band. Instead, they are driven by a relentless desire to develop their craft.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a specific turning point but rather a persistent desire to improve and create the best music we possibly can (pardon the cliche)”
There’s shades of everything from The Oh Sees, Pavement, Black Sabbath, Iggy Pop to Iceage in the EP. And much like many of these acts they are willing to push their punk tendencies to exciting new territories but without losing sight of their roots. “We are all fans of those bands so thank you, that nice to hear” Nedelko says. “We are currently writing new songs at the moment so there’s a mixture of experimentation and restrain going on I would say”
The ‘Straight to CD EP’ also features one of the band’s finest moments to date in ‘Blood Brother’; a humbling response to IDLES’ famous pro-immigrant named after the Heavy Lungs frontman who is originally from Ukraine. A beautiful homage to IDLES frontman Joe Talbot, Nedelko punky vocals bellow over choppy guitars and fast-paced rhythms as he shouts passionate lyrics like “I hope you realise, I’m not for christmas, I’m for life’ and “I love Joe Talbot, I love my blood brother”. Released on a split 7” alongside the IDLES track last year, Nedelko describes their enduring relationship: “We are great friends with the boys and they are a continuing source of inspiration, admiration and a drive for us to become the best band possible”
It’s shaping up to be a massive summer for the band with a number of festival appearances lined up around their Scottish dates. They said: “It’s thrilling as we haven’t played that many festivals so would be great to give the circuit a run for its money. We’ve got a very special one we can’t announce yet, and looking forward to Truck Fest and all the rest to be fair.”
Their best festival memory to date though has to be in Bristol at Simple Things Festival. Nedelko says: “It was our 4th ever show and it got absolutely wild with our boys Idles coming through after their set and loads of friends and crowd surfing”
In terms of a new album, the band remain very tight-lipped but their ambitions for the next year are far from tiny. “Global domination. Absolute vibes. Stay tuned.”