Toronto blues-rock group The Road Heavy are taking a proactive approach to their career. Of course, this isn’t to insinuate that all bands are lazy and not willing to work for success. At any given moment, there is arguably hundreds if not thousands of acts hoping and dreaming of making music a full-time venture.
Some might consider The Road Heavy’s success to date a stroke of being at the right place at the right time. While this may ring true for some aspects of their career, it is actually just a small part of the bigger picture.
Their upcoming performances at Moncton’s Plan b Lounge on Monday Sept. 7 and Tuesday Sept. 8 makes almost exactly one year since they last performed in Moncton. At that time, they were touring in support of former Guns N Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke on an extensive Eastern Canadian tour.
Their friendship with Clarke had actually developed years prior to last year’s tour.
“Me and Andre [DaSilva, Road Heavy bassist] met Gilby in Los Angeles a number of years ago when a band that we used to play with recorded at his studio,” lead guitarist Ryan Blake begins. “After that, we stayed in touch with each other. When we were getting ready to take The Road Heavy on tour, I reached out to him to gauge his interest at touring Canada. Fortunately for us, he was into the idea.”
Blake says their joint tour was a resounding success, something he feels was partially-fuelled by Clarke’s approachable, down-to-earth demeanour.
“He is, without a doubt, one of the nicest guys in rock and roll. Whether he knows it or not, he taught us so much about integrity and standing your ground. There are so many people in the business that are interested in changing what a band is about, Gilby told us we should just go with our gut and do what feels right to us. That is what we live by.”
The roots of music run deep in Blake’s life. As a high school student, as his peers gravitated towards the grunge movement emerging from Seattle, he immersed himself in the work of Muddy Waters, The Allman Brothers and Deep Purple, among others.
While the distinction of musician is an important one to him, Blake brings more than just his guitar to The Road Heavy. He spent years serving the music business in various capacities including guitar technician, road manager, among other duties.
Blake says that what sets The Road Heavy apart from previous acts he has worked with is the commitment that its band members share to live up to their full potential as a group.
“We aren’t 19 years old anymore,” he says plainly. “It’s safe to say we are all over living the clichés of the rock and roll lifestyle. With this band, we were each looking to find a group of people that were serious about making music and have music be the focus. It sounds like a pretty evident thing, but believe me, it isn’t always the case when you get four or five people together in a band.
“I think what keeps us ticking is the respect we share for each other as friends as well as musicians. We each bring something unique to the table, which I feel makes everyone feel as though we have all lucked out finding each other.”
Others are noticing that inter-band chemistry as well. riding an impressive wave of momentum with their debut EP, Devil’s Grin, The Road Heavy recently walked away the Grand Prize winners of Barrie, Ontario radio station Rock 95’s “Local and Loud” competition. The group also had the opportunity to support Tea Party vocalist Jeff Martin on a run of shows throughout Ontario.
Regardless where the future brings them, however, Blake insists the group will continue working hard to get their name out there.
“We are fortunate in that we seem to be making an impression with radio and for those who come out to see our live show,” Blake says.
“We also realized that we can tour Canada for years, collecting one fan at a time, or we can do our best to be proactive about getting our name out there. Being able to attach ourselves to high-profile tours with guys like Jeff Martin and Gilby Clarke has inspired us to ask for similar opportunities in the future. What’s the worst that can happen?”
What: The Road Heavy
When: Monday Sept. 7 & Tuesday Sept. 8, 9:00 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George St., Moncton