From Aural Innovations #20 (July 2002)
Heavy Liquid - "Skag & The Dust" (Broken Records, 2002, 002)
Don't tell Heavy Liquid what genre you think they fall into. Don't try to label them... they'll stomp ya. When I first heard this New Jersey trio's debut 3-song CDEP (see AI #15) I was struck by the pure raunchy power of their punked out brand of rock n roll Stoner psychedelia. At the time the band was a quartet consisting of Doug on vocals, Trezz on guitar, Suds on drums, and Jay Liquid on bass. On the strength of these three songs I fired off a copy of the CD to Jim Lascko at Strange Trips in the hopes that he'd consider them for the upcoming Strange Daze 2001 festival, which he did.
By the time of their Strange Daze appearance Heavy Liquid had become a 3-piece, Doug having parted ways with his comrades. But when the band hit the stage and launched into "Master Of The Universe" with guitarist Trezz now handling the vocal chores it was clear that Heavy Liquid had little to worry about from the loss of the previous singer. Actually their voices are similar, but whereas Doug sang in a style that reminded me of David Johansen, Trezz's vocals are raunchier, more like an Iggy Pop or a Bon Scott. In any event, Heavy Liquid played a ripping set, and seeing that these guys could equal and surpass the excitement of their recorded music in a live setting I was even more fired up to hear more.
I should note that the version of Skag & The Dust that I have at the time of writing is a pre-release, though Trezz informs me that the only difference is that one song is being cleaned up a little and a couple more will be added. But this is seriously raunchy shit that draws on garage rock, heavy metal, punk, space rock and psychedelia. At various times I hear traces of Hawkwind, The Stooges, AC/DC, early Alice Cooper, and more. The opening track, "Cosmic Center", begins as a raunchy buzzsaw power rock workout with stinging whining acidic guitar licks. The band cranks along for a couple minutes until launching into the main part of the song, a brain stomping rumble of a tune. "Mind Fuk" is a similar monster track.
"Destroy The Darkness" is my favorite track of the set. In fact, this is the song that Trezz said needs cleaning up so if it gets better than I'm dying to hear the finished version. The song blazes a hard stoner rock n rollin trail leaving nothing but smoke and ash in it's wake. The chords are crushing, the wah licks wrap themselves around your throat, and the thundering beats will about burst a hole in your chest. "Plastik Fun" opens with swirling Space Ritual guitars and a slow thudding bass pattern. When the band kicks in the song becomes an easy-paced but still overpowering metallic march that I really liked. "Low Life / Sleeze Chamber" is actually two songs made part of one track. "Low Life" brings together the best of punk, metal and psychedelia and has a distinct Stooges feel to it. Grungy power chords and psycho wah'd licks coexist to create something that is like a heavy metal punk show meets Hawkwind's Space Ritual. And when the band is propelled into the "Sleeze Chamber" portion of the song, the thudding Stoner psych effect feels like being trampled under the feet of a crowd running from a fire. Finally, the band pay tribute to their roots with a fiery version of the UFO classic "Prince Kajuku", which they also played at Strange Daze.
In summary, all fans of heavy rock should keep their eyes peeled for when this album is available. If you dig the Meteor City label bands but wish they had a raunchier and more psychedelic edge, then Heavy Liquid will be right up your alley. Wanting to know more about the band I chatted with guitarist Trezz one evening:
AI: How long has Heavy Liquid been together and is the lineup on the first CDEP the original band members?
Trezz: Heavy Liquid started around the end of 2000 with Doug as singer, Jay playing bass, me playing guitar, and Suds on drums. Doug left before that first CD even came out.
AI: Was this 3-song disc the first recorded Heavy Liquid tracks?
Trezz: Actually we did some things in this guys basement. It came out ok. It was like a practice to the 3-song CD. So there's actually another three songs floating around somewhere.
AI: How are those songs? Are they something you might resurrect at some point?
Trezz: Possibly. Since the lineup change it's kind of hangin in the air right now.
AI: Listening to your performance at Strange Daze last year and hearing you as the singer I was wondering why you didn't just do it in the first place. You fit the music perfectly. When Doug left it sounds like you just slipped naturally into the role.
Trezz: Well my last band [The Worst] was kind of a pre-hardcore band... like late Stooges or Dictators kind of mode... I started singing right at the end when we got rid of the singer. We never put out the recordings we did but it's going to come out in the next few months as a compilation of The Worst. We were pretty much a Black Sabbath of hardcore band. And I was singing so I pretty much knew I could do it but I didn't want to do it. I always loved the Rob Tyner, Stooges, Iggy Pop type of lead singer in a band.
AI: So in Heavy Liquid do you think you'll stick with it now that you're doing it?
Trezz: Well since he left I was sort of forced into it and I'm looking at it like... well, the 3-piece thing keeps hitting me in the back of the head so if ya gotta do it ya might as well do it.
AI: Well it sounds pretty good to me.
Trezz: The feedback at the shows is that people dig it. But I play rock n roll because I love to play so I'm not gonna sit around and look for the next Iggy.
AI: Your web site notes that The Worst played with some pretty interesting bands: Johnny Thunders, Suicide, Black Flag, and Sid Vicious are mentioned.
Trezz: It was a great time. We were like pre-hardcore. Before there was Black Flag and Circle Jerks... but we were kids, like 17 or 18. Our first show as The Worst was in ‘77.
AI: Wow, so you were there right when the punk thing was happening.
Trezz: It was pretty much when it wasn't heard of yet. It was in the era of Patti Smith, Suicide, The Ramones, The Deadboys... and these were all groups that grew up on The Stooges, and the English bands like Hawkwind and Pink Fairies... so that's pretty much where we all grew up. The three of us in the group are all from the same era. And even though I have a harder edge than Jay... Jay brings more of the ambient Hawkwind/Pink Fairies side to the table, whereas me and Suds bring the Stooges and MC5 to the table. A pretty interesting mix right there.
AI: And you can really hear it in the music. One of the things that really stuck me hearing you live, and certainly the songs on the new album, you hear Hawkwind, the Stooges, even a bit of AC/DC, Stoner rock, and just kick ass rock n roll... so you can really hear where all these things are synthesized into the music.
Trezz: I think the Stoner rock nowadays is pretty pathetic. I dig some of it but it's gotten totally out of hand. Like these people praise Leslie West... but I was a kid sitting down in Asbury Park watching Leslie West and Felix Papalardi and all that kind of stuff. I actually grew up with that. I was force fed that as a youth, me and Suds. And Jay was only one year behind us. We all went to the same high school.
AI: Wow, you've all knew each other a long time.
Trezz: For a long time. We were pretty much like the outcasts. You know like, "You listen to that? Who the hells Hawkwind?" Stuff like that.
AI: Another band mentioned on your web site is the Ratfuckers and it refers to chaotic shows and being banned from clubs. Tell me about that band.
Trezz: That was me, Suds, and Phil Caivano. We were a three man power trio... post punk. We weren't hardcore and we weren't metal... we thought we were Budgie playing punk rock. It lasted maybe a year and a half. We played a few shows. We had a show in Asbury Park... we played this club and at the end it was like windows smashed and glass and all that shit... it was an experience.
AI: You were also involved in a band with Glen Buxton [guitarist in the original Alice Cooper band]. Did that last very long?
Trezz: That was even shorter than the Ratfuckers. That was like a dream come true. It happened at CBGB's. We were hangin with Glen Buxton and this was at the end of the Alice Cooper days. But Glen Buxton was one of my idols. I mean, Love It To Death... you listen to my lyrics you'll hear me rip off Alice Cooper blatantly. So we're hangin with Glen Buxton who's one of my idols, and Glen wants to play, so we put together a band. I ended up playing rhythm guitar. Billy from the Heartbreakers playing bass. Glen Buxton playing guitar. He didn't have a guitar, he had to borrow mine. His guitars were, needless to say, spread out [laughs]. The drummer and the singer I think were from The The. But just being on stage with Glen Buxton was incredible. It really was. And we had all these gigs lined up. And we were trying to get it together, and we had a few more practices, and ready to do a lot of gigs, and Glen just disappeared.
AI: What year was this?
Trezz: My guess is it was about ‘80... ‘81.
AI: Any bands worth mentioning between those and Heavy Liquid?
Trezz: Not really. Besides messing around... nothing serious. The Worst stayed as a group for a while and played some more gigs. And we have a CD coming out which chronicles the whole Worst thing.
AI: So getting back to Heavy Liquid, I think you've got something going with a contribution you're making to a Bitzcore label release?
Trezz: The thing with that... Turbonegro, which was a great band out of Sweden... they were pretty much a punk glam band. That whole glam thing fascinated me. Especially groups like Slade. And Turbonegro was a total punk band that reminded me of straight up Slade, T. Rex, and then throw in the Ramones. Really cool stuff. And this guy from Bitzcore dug my old group and he was like, "Well, you guys have a little too much ambience in your music". In other words, he wasn't a Hawkwind fan. He didn't want to mess with Heavy Liquid but he dug that post-punk thing that I used to do.
AI: So this isn't Heavy Liquid doing this track?
Trezz: Yes it is. It's Heavy Liquid. But since he liked my old group, he said you do a Turbonegro song and we'll put it on the compilation. But then Turbonegro decided to get back together. But with any luck the one song that we do, which is now going to be on our album, because the Bitzcore thing is up in the air, is supposed to be on a 7" coming out of Germany.
AI: It's a cover of a Turbonegro song?
Trezz: Yeah. It's wasn't supposed to be on our album. It was supposed to be on the compilation. But since everything is up in the air with this group and this label it's like... well we're going to throw it on the album anyhow. We recorded it. We're not going to waste it.
AI: So how is the new album coming along. Are you getting close?
Trezz: Everything is mastered and ready to go. Now I'm sitting back and looking at the options we have. People aren't throwing money around like they used to. For a while there people were putting out anything and everything. It's rough because we're stuck in this void of... we're not the Pink Fairies and we're not Black Sabbath. That's how people look at this stuff. Either you're a total space rock band, or you're a total Stoner sludge band.
AI: So if it gets down to it are you going to put out the CD yourself or is that not an option.
Trezz: It is an option. Everyone wants us to hand it to them for nothing. It's like, you tell me you're gonna put our stuff out and not give me anything? I can do that myself. And since we got the masters not even a week ago, I'm pretty much looking at it like that.
AI: Now the pre-release I have... I know you said "Destroy The Darkness" was still being worked on. How many songs will there be total?
Trezz: As you got it it's pretty much all done. "Destroy The Darkness" had to be edited... a few things here and there. But it was recorded as a live record where we hit the studio without a lot of money, and we hooked up the mic and just played. And all the sounds you hear are pretty much how we play it live. When you saw us at Strange Daze, that's really how we recorded this record. The overdubs were only done as we had to. As in... I needed another guitar track, or I had to cut in vocals. Everything was done because we had to. That is, there was no overlay of sound, and it was all done analog, and it was mixed digitally because of convenience. But all the noises you hear, all the space sounds are all done through my guitar. And it can all be done live exactly how I play it. There's no Moog stuff going on. It's all straight guitar. We do include a track of Jay's on the album. Jay is into the ambient electronic sounds. He's the total Amon Düül/Hawkwind head of the group He's got all these keyboards and he went in and did this track and it's like 3 minutes and 5 seconds right at the end of the album, and it's nothing but him.
AI: Well it's a great album. I'm looking forward to seeing the reactions you get. Have you been playing any shows at all?
Trezz: Our last show was about four months ago. There's been no shows since we've been doing the record. Suds got really sick with Brochitis, and he had pneumonia a while ago too, so everything kind of hit Suds and he was in pretty bad shape for a while. So we're focusing on the record and getting that out.
AI: So I guess once the CD comes out you'll get more aggressive about booking shows.
Trezz: Yeah, exactly. We'll get the CD out and have something to push.
AI: Anything you'd like to leave our readers with?
Trezz: Buy Heavy Liquid cause you'll love it! It's music from the heart.
For more information you can visit the Heavy Liquid web site at:
Email Heavy Liquid at: firstname.lastname@example.org.