I personally thrive off of great local music. I love going out to see bands that have grown from similar environments as me, and how that translates artistically. I am also extremely interested in seeing how certain projects in this area form communities and support one another. Western Mass has quite a contrasting music scene, and I'm often surprised at what I find when I walk into a local show. On October 26th Gateway City Arts hosts a line up of local acts that are so good and so original, that it happens to be one of my very favorites yet. Of the three bands performing I have seen two live, and I am ecstatic to see how all three play off of each other in a line up together. Save the date, because Hevvi Synthia, Oroboro, and The Screaming Hearts are going to breath life back into your cold, dead, October-fueled heart.
Hi there Hevvi Synthia, Oroboro, and The Screaming Hearts! Thank you ALL for taking the time to answer some questions so that our audience can get you know each of you a bit better as we get ready for your show on October 26th here at Gateway City Arts. Why don't each start by telling me who you are, who is in the band, and where you are from.
Hevvi Synthia: We are Hevvi Synthia. Our name has absolutely nothing to do with a heavyset person by the name of Cynthia, despite occasional confusion. Heidi Schmidt plays keyboard and synth, Nate Thorn plays drums, and Chris Cleveland plays guitar and sings. Individually we are from different parts of New England, but the band was formed in Greenfield.
OroborO: Hi! We’re OroborO and we are made up of Nate, Spencer, Jordan, and Emily! Spencer and Jordan live in Central Mass and Nate and Emily live in Western Mass.
What brought your band together? How long have you all been playing together?
HS: Nate and Chris have been playing music together since college. All three of us went to MCLA together. We added Heidi to the Hevvi mix last year for a little extra flavor, but this project has been up and running for about 2 years.
O: The guys met over a period of years at UMass, and Emily joined a couple years after that. We were brought together by being a bunch of dinguses who like to make a lot of noise together in basements.
The Screaming Hearts: Tanner and I were mutual Facebook friends when I was desperately looking for an advanced band to expand my individual act. Once Tanner heard my music, he immediately volunteered his band to join in with me. At first, they were not thrilled with the lack of communication. They ended up being ecstatic once they heard the new project and here we are now - 2+ years later.
Have any of you played on bills together in the past?
O: We haven’t played with Hevvi Synthia before, but we are excited to be on this bill with them!
TSH: Yes! We played with OroborO at Amherst College last year. We love these bands and we are thrilled to be sharing this show with them.
I have seen The Screaming Hearts and Oroboro perform before, but this will be my first Hevvi Synthia show! Can you tell me why this line up works and what made you all want to work together?
HS: We don’t know if it will work, but we’ve been having practice with our fingers crossed just to be safe. The hope is that three rocks will make one massive rock that everybody in attendance can climb all over.
O: I think the on-stage theatrics are pretty comparable between the three of us!
TSH: We believe that softer and harder levels of Rock are both important during most shows. It’s easy to lose people in consistent, identical genres and these 3 bands have the perfect mixture to celebrate all forms of Rock.
What do you feel is unique about the Western Mass music scene? Any defining characteristics?
HS: The valley music scene is definitely chock full of interesting and talented acts, and It’s exciting to see the number of new music clubs that have opened, or existing clubs that have revamped their style and M.O., to host said acts. Greenfield in particular has really stepped up its game in this department.
O: Everyone smells like essential oils. Also, genre-bending exists in almost every project you see/hear out of this area. You’ll find that most groups carve their own niche sound.
TSH: The Western Mass music scene is so wonderfully unique. The amount of talent in one small area is almost unheard of. Somehow, all around Western Mass, we have mutual friends and supporters. The Western Mass music scene is a giant community of genuine connection and friendship.
Where does your music come from? What is your process like?
HS: Chris generates the framework of songs. Sometimes that’s a complete song, but more often it’s a handful of grooves that (may or may not) work together which he brings to the table. At that point, Hevvi will have creative workshops where we examine different sounds and rhythms to glue it all together. Once it’s a song, we put it in the “practice pile”, and we run it with all of the other complete songs in a good old fashioned band practice.
O: This is a tough question; it comes from different places in each of us. Usually we jam on different sections of a song for a couple weeks/months before finally synthesizing them into a cohesive piece.
TSH: Our main writers are Tanner and I – However, everyone contributes to every song that we create. While Tanner writes most of our music and I create the lyrics and melodies, our songs would not be the same without Joe’s creative bass lines and Brian’s catchy drum beats.
Any heavy influences or artists that you really look up to?
O: There’s hundreds, a few are Queens of the Stone Age, St. Vincent, Sonic Youth, Girl Band, Guerilla Toss, Death Grips, Boards of Canada, a hodgepodge of noise/psychedelic bands and fellow locals, etc. etc.
TSH: No Doubt, Kings of Leon, The Foxing, Highly Suspect, Neil Young, The Lumineers, Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin.
Are there any central themes you find you write about as a band?
HS: Childhood. Regret. Evil men. And more traditional stuff, like heartache and truckin’.
O: It varies from song to song, but we hope that every song can be an “exorcism” of some sort. We hope to offer a space for people to purge their unnamable neuroses.
TSH: We all appreciate the true, honest meaning of life. Money, Instagram followers, general popularity, ect. - While they can all make life easier, we see past it all. Instead, we focus on living life to the fullest and cherishing true love and memorable moments. You can hear a lot of this theme in songs like “All That Matters” and “Euphoria”.
This show takes place around the same time as a lot of our Halloween festivities here at GCA, can we expect any spookiness from your show? Should audiences come dressed up?
HS: We’re always a little spooky. It’s just the way the lord made us.
O: There will be lots of spooky perspiration and saliva. Come dressed up!
TSH: Hmm… you’ll just have to come out and see!
Do you have any funny or ridiculous tour stories that you don't mind sharing with us?
HS: Some guy got killed on a motorcycle a few hundred feet ahead of us on the way to a show in Brooklyn. I guess that’s not really funny or ridiculous. But we did sit at a dead stop on 91 for almost 3 hours in 90 degree heat. People were pulling out camp chairs and stuff. It was like a tailgating party. But the guy died soooo... that sucks. But we still made the show... so that was good.
O: Endless stories I’m sure, when we were playing in Louisville, a drunken or tweaking fellow named Crazy Steve lightly terrorized us during and after our set. As the owner was kicking him out, Crazy Steve shouted, “There’s something wrong with this guy — I think he has to poop!” It was monumentous.
TSH: We toured Boston, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont back in December 2016. My mom’s entire family lives in Maine so I was excited to have them come out to see their “successful musician family member”. It turned out that the bar we played at was absolutely disgusting, the bands we played with were very unexperienced and the entire night was a total disaster. We had a blast anyway. The place is shut down now.
Any other local bands that you guys are currently crushing on?
HS: We’ve developed friendships and shared the stage with crazy good valley acts such as HomeBody and Carinae. We love what both of those groups bring to the table as writers and performers, and they’re all sweet as pie to boot.
O: Snowhaus, Banana, Space Camp, Hot Dirt, Tundrastomper, Rong, Squitch to name a few.
TSH: Austin James, Polar Planet, City State, Fighting Giants, Sodada, Lexi Weege and The Wonder Twins, Kindling, Nice Try Kid and The Hashassins.
How do you feel about a bands involvement in social issues? Do you have any thoughts on music related to community involvement?
HS: Performing at events where the proceeds go to charities or to promoting awareness of certain social injustices is something we have been a part of in the past, and we certainly feel that’s a good platform for us to show how we feel by directly contributing to that cause. But we don’t feel that it’s our job to foam at the mouth onstage about our personal beliefs. It’s cool if that’s your thing as a band, but it tends to come off as a bit soap-boxy and self righteous to us. We’re entertainers. We’ve come to your town to help you party down.
O: We have a few songs about cannibalizing right-winged bigotry and nefarious scene perpetrators. It’s important to us to take a firm stance against toxic institutions on any scale.
TSH: Live and let live. We try not to focus so much on social issues and just try to make good choices and support our community.
What can we expect to see from you in the near future? Any big shows or new music coming?
HS: We’ll be nestling down this winter to work on a new album. It’s gonna be a bit heavier on the Strokes/Bowie/Big Star vibes, while still maintaining that swinging rock chug that we love so much.
O: We have new music coming. We’re playing a big string of shows in the next few months- keep your eyes peeled!
TSH: We are actually taking a very short break to focus on behind the scenes shenanigans. We have decided to take a softer, more acoustic approach to our music (for the most part). You can expect to have new recordings available soon as well as a music video for one of our favorite originals.
Thank you all for taking the time to chat with me! I am really looking forward to this show!
O: Thank YOU!
To learn more about Hevvi Cynthia click here.
To learn more about Oroboro click here.
To learn more about The Screaming Hearts click here.
To purchase tickets to see this line up on October 26th click here.