Heat $heets ‘breaks the rules of music’ with debut EP

Squeezing into a small basement like a ’70s game room, the four members of Fredericton rock band Heat $heets conduct a Wednesday evening rehearsal in preparation for the release party of their first EP.

The band’s self-titled EP was released March 5 on local Fredericton label She Said Feck Records. During their release party on March 7, they played alongside fellow locals Marian and The Snorkelers.

Drummer Frank Merrill said having recorded material was necessary for them to move forward.

“We really want to have something we can give people so they can listen to us and create more opportunities for ourselves,” said Merrill.

In the practice space, vocalist Ryan Jennings, a University of New Brunswick forestry graduate, said the group has been working on the record for the past seven months.

Jennings said the band started more than two years ago with himself, Merrill and bassist Alex Fredericks. Keegan Dobbelsteyn made them a quartet, joining them when they began to record as lead guitarist in June 2019.

Heat $heets have been working on their debut EP since June 2019. (Alex Dascalu/AQ)

Dobbelsteyn acted as the sound engineer for the project and said most of the recording happened in a loft above his parents’ garage, where he set up his studio.

The record stands out because it breaks the rules of music by combining analog recording techniques like tape echoes with digital techniques like high pitched bass solos connected to wah petals, creating a sound similar to ’80s shoegaze and psychedelic rock.

Dobbelsteyn said it was a challenge during the recording process but was worth it in the end.

“Mixing the album was like mixing a lot of really modern sounds that this band tends to make with a lot of older production ideas and trying to kind of marry the two,” Dobbelsteyn said.

Jennings said most of the tracks on the EP came from jam sessions the band would have at practice.

“We’d always record the jam sessions and more often than not, certain ideas would cycle back through, or variations of it,” said Jennings.

“Those ones that kept on coming back eventually turned into songs that became more structured.”

Jennings said they attracted the attention of She Said Feck Records after Kate Butler, owner and operator of the label, first heard the band playing at a local gig.

Butler said she was drawn to them instantly.

“These guys had something that was different … And I wanted to work with them from the start because that’s my favourite kind of artist to work with, when they’re in the beginnings,” said Butler.

“They didn’t have that traditional new rock band sound, and they’ve been playing already for a couple of years, so they were established with each other and had a great relationship with each other.”

The band’s release party also marked the two-year anniversary of Butler’s label.

Besides the sound of the album, one thing that also stands out is its minimalistic cover art. The photo is of a brown racing horse against a pink, evening sky with the name Heat $heets shaved into the side of the neck.

The horse belongs to Jennings’ father, who trimmed and fitted shoes for horses’ hooves. He said he wanted to use the horse for the cover to represent pursuing passion.

“My dad was always a farrier and working with horse racing in Atlantic Canada, there’s not a whole lot of money in that, but it’s just like a passion,” said Jennings.

“It was like, kind of a lifestyle, so it just coincides with what we were trying to do.”

Bassist Alex Fredericks echoed that it represents the mentality of the working man.

“The mentality of where we’re working on a craft where you’re not necessarily the richest person or whatever, you know, but you love what you do and you’re passionate about it.”

Overall, Jennings said listeners should listen to the EP with an open mind, and he hopes they will leave with one as well.

He said while they aren’t releasing any physical copies right now, the EP is available on streaming platforms.

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