The local Orlando band, The Heavy Craigs, have an interesting name and the band members, Chuck Fusca (vocals, acoustic guitar), Tim Samples (lead guitar, vocals), Jason Isla (vocals, percussion), David Swanson (bass) and Alex Guzman (drums), seem to differ on whether or not they want to tell anyone. Or maybe it’s just their sense of humor? In a recent email interview with the band, Jason Isla had this to say about the band name, “After some creative brainstorming the name The Heavy Craigs won the name game due to a secret inside joke that will remain secret for a long time.”
Fortunately for anyone wanting to know the answer, Chuck Fusca explained it. “We all met in one way or another through Craigslist,” said Fusca. “Whether it was the various bands we were in together or just the ads we placed, there was always a Craigslist connection.” Whether or not that’s the true story, well that’s probably another story.
The band members’ musical influences come from a wide range of sources. Tim Samples explains it simply as “our heart and soul.” Fusca expands on that idea a little further, “yeah, I think we just get inspired by life as it happens, I don’t think you can force it. Musically, [it was] probably my mom and older brother, who introduced me to the Beatles when I was a toddler. There was always music and singing in our house.”
Jason Isla credits Eddie Vedder and Ben Harper as his musical influences, while David Swanson mentions a few other well-known musicians. “In general, I was influenced by a lot of the 90’s alternative and grunge like The Smashing Pumpkins, Dinosaur Jr. and The Pixies, but my biggest influence on bass guitar was definitely Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers,” said Swanson. “The instructional videos that he did with Chad Smith were in heavy rotation when I was learning to play bass.”
The band’s indie rock music features layered vocal harmonies and has a funky, classic groove. The band members credit their varied musical back ground as being part of The Heavy Craigs’ sound. “We have meaningful lyrics, vocal harmonies, and a style that is a throwback from a few decades ago mixed with heavy percussive rhythms,” said Isla. Or, there’s the way Samples describes their music, “I think we can play, and our songs won’t offend you.”
“At the end of the day, musicians are just entertainers,” said Swanson. “If people come to a show and have a good time, then we’ve done our job. If any of the songs are stuck in their heads on the drive home, that’s a bonus.”
The band members seem to agree that the Orlando music scene has an abundance of diverse talent, but that the scene itself needs to improve as far as attendance. “The Orlando music scene is constantly moving and growing,” said Isla. “There are a lot of promoters working to get names out there. It’s tough for venues and new bands. Venues have a hard time paying out the artists when they struggle to fill their rooms on a regular basis. As the scene of show-goers increases, we hope that the promoters and venues help artists get paid for their efforts.”
Swanson, new to Orlando, made some insightful comparisons between the two music scenes he is familiar with. “I just moved from Nashville, so I’m used to being surrounded by amazing musicians and bands, but I think Orlando is a sleeping giant. The scene isn’t quite as omnipresent, but some of the talent here is just as good and there is an authentic quality to it that isn’t always there in the more commercial music scenes.”
The Orlando musicians have found the other local bands to be very supportive of each other, sharing information on venues, helping to promote each others shows and being able to find bands for shows. “It’s all about helping each other out, especially at the local level,” said Swanson. “Just because you love the opening act doesn’t mean you won’t love the headlining act too. It’s not a competition. Having a lot of good, successful bands just builds a stronger local scene with more fans and more industry attention, and in the end, that helps everybody.
The Heavy Craigs have just completed work on a five song EP. As far as what’s next, Fusca said, “Just to get our tunes into as many ears as possible. I’m also excited that we keep writing. Not just Tim and I, but I think everyone has strong tunes that will start creeping into our set lists. My goal would be for our music to keep evolving.”
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