The HEAP is an amalgam of several different styles of music, and its members name bands as diverse as Morphine, Soul Coughing, and Sly and the Family Stone as influences. On stage, its two bass players, a four piece horn section, a keyboardist, and a drummer all work their hardest to make you feel the groove.
Recording artists Bryan Howard, lead singer of The HEAP, came up with the idea for the band back in 2007, during a conversation with bass player Jeff Rieter. At the time, Howard and Rieter were already involved in projects; Howard with his old band Slackdaddy as well as with Kevn Kinney, Violent Femmes, Sara Lee Guthrie, and Jim White, and Rieter with the band Baghouse, hey, Revolution!, and diet rock star. When their schedules slowed they came together again, and decided to see their idea to fruition.
Finding musicians to fill out the band proved easy, not a surprise considering the group calls music haven Athens, GA, home. First, Howard recruited Ian Werden to the drums, who he played with in Slackdaddy. Howard and Rieter then recruited their horn section - a crucial part of their current sound, and what makes the band stand out from the typical Athens group. Jeff Crouch was recommended to the band by a good friend. He immediately said he was interested and recommended Marc Gilley, local sax player, and keyboardist Paul Kim. More recently, Jack Stirling (Legendary Joint Chiefs) has replaced Paul Kim on keys and Kate Mikulka has been added on bari sax.
Together, they play the unique danceable brand of indie soul that has quickly become popular in the Athens community, and lauded by bands from the venerable Violent Femmes, to Kevn Kinney, to Prince and the Revolutions's Dr. Fink. Brian Ritche from the Violent Femmes has gone as far as to say that "[The] HEAP funks like James Brown, slides like Dr. John, blows like Ornette Coleman, and dances like an octopus. [It's] entertaining music that has some substance."
The band played its first show in May 2007, opening for Kevn Kinney, and have quickly gained a following throughout the Athens and the southeast. The HEAP released their debut Deluxe in 2008. Co-produced by The HEAP and Bill Doss (Apples in Stereo, Olivia Tremor Control), the album includes instrumental versions of all the tracks in addition to the vocal versions. In 2009, the HEAP was nominated for a Flagpole Music Award in the Funk/ Jam category- (also nominated was Widespread Panic).
The HEAP Horns can be heard on releases from several local, regional and even some national artists, and are available for 'hire.'