The six songs on Niagara-on-the-Lake band Heavy Hearts’ new EP, “On A Chain,” range from angst-filled rockers to atmospheric acoustic numbers — a moody, dynamic collection that reflects the band’s emo and ’90s alt-rock roots.
The follow-up to the group’s 2016 debut full-length album, “Bliss,” the new EP’s variety marks something of a sonic experiment for the band, as guitarist and vocalist Justin Glatt explained.
“Originally, the EP was just going to be our second full-length but then as we kept writing, the songs were sounding really different from each other, and we were just like, ‘OK, we’re trying out a lot of new stuff that we haven’t done before,’ and we (said), ‘OK, let’s just put out an EP.’ That way it’s less of a commitment for people, and if it’s something (where) we’re trying something new and people hate it, then we know never to try it ever again,” he said.
Glatt said the band — which also includes Jamie Gorman (bass), Riley Jensen (guitar), and Davis Maxwell (drums) — will continue to try and expand their sound in future, especially since the reaction to the new songs from fans has matched the group’s own enthusiasm.
“We’ve already started writing for our next full-length, and we’re just going to keep trying to push ourselves and keep making sure that it’s always different and that we’re never repeating ourselves,” he said. ““On A Chain” is definitely the favourite thing — at least for all four of us — that we’ve ever put out and so far the response has been really good. Initially the reaction was probably the most strong for the song “No Heaven,” but then as the EP’s been out for a little bit longer, people are gravitating more toward songs like “Yur Head” and “Headroom,” the more chilled-out songs, which is cool.”
Released by New Damage Records in North America, the EP was recorded in Ottawa over two weeks with producer Cory Bergeron, who Glatt said pushed the band to be creative in the studio.
“He was really into making sure we tried out every possible idea that somebody would have,” Glatt said. “We tried out every kind of guitar sound we could get, so it was really cool. All those songs — everything was tried on them, so it was really cool to actually write the songs to be the best that they could be.”
Formed in 2013, the band hails from the decidedly non-rocking environs of Niagaraon-the-Lake, a sleepy community populated by retirees and wine country tourists where the band has never actually played, and where Glatt said “there really isn’t any music scene at all.” That said, the St. Catharines’ scene that spawned bands like Alexisonfire is only about 20 minutes away.
“If we were going to play a hometown show, it would be in St. Catharines,” Glatt said. “We’ve never played a show in actual Niagara-on-the-Lake. It would be cool, but I think it would go over terribly.”
The group’s current Ontario and Quebec tour will bring them to Maxwell’s in Waterloo to headline a six-band bill on Dec. 14. After the holidays, the band will head to Europe for the first time to play shows with European label mates Lightcliffe in the U.K., Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the Czech Republic.
“None of us have ever been to the U.K. or Europe at all, for vacation or whatever,” said Glatt. “Failure By Design Records picked up “On A Chain” and we’ve been talking to them about playing some shows out there since the EP was announced back in August. So it’s been planned, it was just all about finding a band to tour with out there so weren’t doing it on our own.”
Glatt said he hopes the group’s European trip will be similar to their first U.S. tour earlier this summer.
“When we played a few of the shows that we did out in the States this summer, there were kids singing along. It’s just cool to see stuff like that happen in places you’ve never played before. I’m not sure if it’ll be the same out in the U.K., but we’ll see,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting.”
Heavy Hearts will bring their sonic experiment to Maxwell’s on Dec. 14.