Dig Baton Rouge

Gotta Carry that Weight

BR Band Heavy Mantle reflects on new album release

To say that Heavy Mantle is a local punk rock band doesn’t do them justice.

Since forming in 2015, the band has embarked on creating its own unique punk sound while also planning and performing several out-of-state tours and releasing their debut album. The album, “Weights & Measures” was released last month under the Tor Johnson Records label based out of Providence, RI.

Conceived by some of BR’s rock vets, Heavy Mantle sees Billy Thompson on guitar with lead vocals and Brian Domingue on bass and backup with Zach Smotherman on drums.

“Billy had a bunch of songs he wanted to flesh out further like a singer/songwriter kind of thing,” Domingue said. “And he had gotten a friend of ours in there to play too, and he was like, ‘You want to play bass?’ So, we wiped up a set real quick. I think we recorded our demo in our fourth or fifth full band practice and now here we are.”

Three years—and 10,000 miles of road—later, the band is ready to unleash the next album in their canon that “sounds equally fresh and original as it does familiar.”

Primarily influenced by punk and hardcore, “Weights & Measures” plays a modernized version of punk rock and hardcore with a spirit and conviction that’s hard to find these days. The title of the album shares the same name of a song put out by Heavy Mantle on the 2016 Baton Rouge Flood benefit compilation “Many Waters.” With a 12-track list, these songs give nods to influencers of the punk style such as Fugazi, Small Brown Bike, Cursive, and Jawbreaker.

“They’re quick bursts of ideas,” Domingue said. “There’s not very much of a break in between songs. I think of it more as one piece that’s broken into 12 bits when I’m playing it personally. Instead of like, ‘Oh hey, you should listen to this song,’ or ‘You should listen to that song,’ it’s more like ‘Set aside 25 minutes and listen to these [songs].”

Domingue describes their style of punk music as “more of an ethos than a sound.”

“Between us, we’ve been playing in bands for a very long time and the music itself is an influence,” Domingue said. “I’m personally influenced by the two of them whenever a song is being written. We try to let the songs be born than try and put things on them.”

Since first forming, the band has expanded its reach to new cities and new audiences and have perfected their work while becoming more efficient at reading each other.

“A song could go a million and a half different ways depending on how somebody plays something,” Domingue said. “I guess we’ve grown in that whenever something is brought to us we’re pretty good at being able to play something together around something new, not necessarily improvising, but pretty close to, to where it’s something we can build a song to.”

The band has spent many overnights in a van together while touring on five-day sprints while balancing performing in other bands, working day jobs and raising families. Dominque’s philosophy on making music and how it relates to their fans is that he believes if they continue to make music they like, it will trickle down and leave their audiences with a smile.

“Music to me is an extremely personal thing,” Domingue said. “Most of the shows that we play are in venues where you need to care about music to want to go to, but when not, I would hope that somebody heard something they haven’t heard or didn’t know they would want to hear again.”

Photos courtesy of Gabrielle Feld

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