BIG IN 2016
As 2016 opens its doors, we’ll make sure you’re properly briefed on the acts who will dominate the next twelve months. Heck may have been forced to change their name, but they’re not backing down.
Words: Jessica Bridgeman.
Heck have been causing a serious ruckus since late 2009, staking claim on venues up and down the UK with a blend of manic hardcore and thrash qualities that ensured they were noticed by anyone who was fortunate enough to cross their path. It was during a tour with Limp Bizkit and Crossfaith in 2014 that the midlanders really took things up a notch, supporting in some of the country’s most respected venues. A few rolls of duct tape later and Heck are ensuring all that is nothing compared to what they have in store for 2016.
Armed with a “doing things our own way” ethos, the last two years have pushed the four-piece formerly known as Baby Godzilla to the point of combustion. “It’s one of those things that could’ve quite easily ripped us apart,” recalls frontman Matt Reynolds on Heck’s difficult summer of 2015, “Chaos struck and we had to change our band name.”
The Nottingham mob may make an awful lot of noise, but when it came to adhering to the conflicts of a certain Japanese cinema giant of the same name, they were left with little choice in the matter. “This may seem abrupt but following some fairly conclusive and forceful instructions it is time we instigated a change,” the band said in an official statement last July. “We; the collective of Matt Reynolds, Jonny Hall, Tom Marsh and Paul Shelley, will from now on and henceforth be known as HECK.”
“This is an exciting new chapter,” the statement continued, “We press on, reinvigorated, focused and with more fire in our bellies than ever.” And they’ve done just that. “We could have very easily have just stopped,” admits guitarist Jonny Hall, “Because everything that you’ve worked for, for five years, has been ripped from under you and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“But instead it just made us even more determined to not do anything that anyone tells us to do; and do things our own way,” Matt concludes. And it’s hard not to feel the excitement exuding from the two band members as they reveal details about their debut album. “We’ve been perfectionists over it,” Matt says, “but we got back on our feet and now we really are ready to get it out there.”
It’s no secret that Heck have built their trade of chaotic live shows; where you’ll usually find them clambering on amps, diving from stage rigging or surfing above the heads of fans. But it’s their knack for sharp mathcore techniques and smart hardcore akin to the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan that deserves the spotlight now. “It’s weird, the four of us have a really diverse range of musical influences,” Jonny explains. “Matt and Tom [drums] grew up listening to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, I came from a slightly more hardcore background and Paul [bass] basically only listens to Kesha.”
Somewhere between Kesha, prog and the idea of a spot-the-chorus-themed drinking game, anyone who encounters Heck in 2016 can expect a British rock band that’s steadied some treacherous waters and risen a renewed force. “You have to just grow a pair and say ‘right, it’s going to be shit for a while but you’re not going to stop doing it’,” Jonny says. “Initially the response to the name change was great; we had a lot of support for the story but sometimes things like that don’t filter through to everyone.”
There remains a subtle tension that suggests they still have an uphill battle on their hands. “We did the tour [in November 2015] and a lot of people were coming up to us and saying they’d only just found out we were Baby Godzilla,” Jonny adds.
As for the debut album, Matt unravels details with the excitement of a man who’s had a tip-off on finding the end of a rainbow around the corner, “It’s everything we’ve worked to before this point and a progression of everything we’ve ever done. It’s got all the hardcore roots that we were going towards before, and the energy, and that’s been focused into everything.”
“The influences are worn on our sleeve,” he adds, “It doesn’t just sound like a heavy, shouty album, but you wouldn’t have gone, ‘oh this guy listens to Kesha’.”
Just when you think you know Heck, think again.