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Monday, 12 February 2024 11:23

Big Timmy & The Heavy Chevys: Shifting Into Next Gear

Written by  Eric Mitts
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Big Timmy & The Heavy Chevys. Big Timmy & The Heavy Chevys. Courtesy Photo

In just sheer size and scale, there’s no denying the growth of Grand Rapids band Big Timmy & the Heavy Chevys. 

Since first forming in 2019 as just a three-piece, the group­—fronted by lead vocalist Tim Pierzchala—has expanded into an eight-piece ensemble complete with a horn section. 

With a modern, working class take on classic Motown, blues, soul, and funk, and inspired by the post-millennial renaissance of New York indie record label Daptone Records (home to the works of Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, and many others), the Heavy Chevys had fuel in their musical tank that ran deep. 

The group recorded their first five-song EP, The Big Time, at Amber Lit Audio in Grand Rapids back in 2020, just two weeks before the pandemic lockdown. That massive setback created a roadblock that stopped them in their tracks, and forced them to take a hard look at life and making music. 

“The whole world pretty much shut down,” Pierzchala said. “So we didn’t know where we were going to go from there. (And) I’m impressed how we have come such a long ways because we’ve been through, I think, a lot more than a lot of groups have.”

Dealing with the day jobs and other difficulties of managing such a large band, Pierzchala and company could have crumbled. But instead the band grew bigger and stronger, adding members, and taking those troubles head-on with the upcoming release of their first full-length album, Feel The Weight.

Now made of Pierzchala, vocalist/trombonist Tre Brooks, bassist Nahum Amaya, guitarist Tom Carr, drummer Ben Wolter, tenor saxophonist Chris Carr, alto saxophonist Rachel Benzer, and trumpeter John Akers, once again recorded at Amber Lit Audio. The new, 11-track album has songs that go back throughout the band’s whole history, and finally came to completion thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. 

“A lot of the songs are about living to work,” Pierzchala said. “I think a lot of the songs have a very heavy feel to them. So Feel The Weight we thought was pretty appropriate because there’s a lot of feeling that goes into it.”

The album title also alludes to the oversized importance music plays in their lives, artistically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

“I can’t speak for everybody else, but I think I need (music) to survive,” Pierzchala said. “It’s been a part of my existence for a long time. I always thought it was miraculous that a sad ballad song could make somebody feel good or an upbeat song could make somebody feel sad. And for me personally it’s almost easier to exist in that realm (of music) than life itself sometimes. So I think we all have a sense of that.”

Diligently working on songs, during, and after the pandemic, the band ended up with more than enough material for a full-length album. With the goal of releasing the record on vinyl, they actually had to cut a few tracks, and even shorten one of their longer jams, in order to fit into the beloved format that was important to them.

“I grew up listening to records and I’m a collector myself,” Pierzchala said. “I love it and I think with our style, having it on a record, there’s something more tangible and meaningful for me. With a record, when I pull out the sleeve, and I have the artwork in front of me, I feel like albums were meant to be listened to like that, in its entirety.”

To celebrate such a massive release, Big Timmy & the Heavy Chevys will bring in their friends in another large GR soul group Nathan Walton & the Remedy, as well as other friends from Detroit, and a full burlesque show, hoping to make the event unlike anything local music fans have experienced before. Living up to their automotive name, the band also hopes to hit the road later this year, and share how much the band has grown with as many people as possible.

Big Timmy & the Heavy Chevys
Feel The Weight Album Release Party
Wsg. Nathan Walton & the Remedy, Lana Steel Hymn & Burlesque, Virginia Violet

The Pyramid Scheme
68 Commerce Dr. SW, Grand Rapids
Feb. 23, 7 p.m., $15, 18 and older
Pyramidschemebar.com, 1800bigtimmy.com

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