June, June it’s time to croon with the first GMR AotM of Summer – The Heats!
You may recall me name-checking them in our March AotM with
The Blackouts and you may even recall when they were considered the next big thing in Seattle, but it rather surprises me how little remembered these guys are considering how popular they were locally.
This seems stupid and strange in retrospect, but to me at the time these guys were the first popular band in Seattle since the Sonics. I grew up in Olympia and after bumming around the Northwest a few years moved to Seattle in late ’74. I totally missed all the cool Wheedle’s Groove stuff that Light in the Attic is putting out. When Heart put out Dreamboat Annie I didn’t even think they were Americans, let alone Seattleites, because they were on a Canadian record label. Heart was a national band after that, not local. The Heats were not that; they were totally local. They built a huge local following and at the same time helped inspire the joke, “How many Seattle musicians does it take to screw in a light bulb? One to screw it in, four to say , oh hell, I coulda done that better.” I was probably one of the four. If so, I got over it.
Oh yeah, the Heats-Heaters business. They started out life as the Heaters. When they started getting popular, some LA band popped up and said they owned the name, so after no doubt deep debate – The Heats it was.
So, this month Howie and I are splitting the writing duties, so I’m turning it over to Howie for a bit.
I think I should start by telling you a couple of things for those that don’t know me. TD & I first met at our “dream job” at Everybody’s Record Company #5 in North Seattle in the last half of the 70’s. It was a beautiful thing. A family affair. We sold records & tapes and listened to music all of the day & all of the night. That time will never be recreated. You shouda been there.
Early on one of the Everybody’s family, Brad Blake, had been going to shows a few blocks north of the store on Highway 99 at a place called Parker’s to see his drummer friend’s band, Heart, play. He kept telling me I should check them out. I never did go to Parker’s for the pre-Dreamboat Annie Heart shows when they were still a local band. I shoulda.
TD & I very rarely agreed on what was cool, except for a few things: Todd Rundgren, Jonathan Richman, Green Pajamas(would come later), Lou Reed (but TD & Lou lost me for Metal Machine Music), Ian Hunter and Tyla Gang (he worked me on that one) are examples. TD was Ornette Coleman & I was Dwight Twilley Band…TD was Captain Beefheart & I was The Rubinoos…TD was John Lennon (my fav), but I was Paul McCartney. While TD was into local bands like the Telepaths & the Blackouts (Green Monkey Records’ March 2011 Album of the Month), I was into the Moberlys, The Pudz and then…The Heaters.
Terry McGibbon, another Everybody’s alum, drug me to The Shire Tavern in West Seattle in late 1979 to see this local band called The Heaters. He raved about them. He knows what I like. I trust Terry. We paid the cover and grabbed some beers in the crowded smokey tavern, and for the first time in a Seattle bar, I saw a local band that played really great covers from the the past (Dave Clark Five, Beach Boys, The Who) to the 1979 present (Chris Spedding, Dr. Feelgood,Rockpile) AND they seamlessly included catchy Heaters originals (I Don’t Like Your Face, Let’s All Smoke, Ordinary Girls, etc). Up to this point in Seattle bars, this is not what you would normally see and hear. This was power pop! I was sold the first time I saw them. Terry was right.
The Heaters didn’t have any albums out at this point, but there was a live radio broadcast coming up soon after the Shire show on Thanksgiving Day 1979. This required some thought because where I lived and where my parents lived had really crappy Seattle FM radio reception. There were hills in the way of the radio signals. My brother Brian and I conspired to eat Thanksgiving dinner at my parents home with the family and then go to his dorm at the University of Washington, which had way better FM reception, in time to record The Heaters live at the Showbox. It was a great show and in a fit of Northwest brilliance I titled the cassette “Thanksgiving with The Heaters on.” It had almost everything the Shire Tavern show had, except the smoke, beer & bodies. This would do very well until they released an album. In some ways I prefer it still.
I started doing this thing at Everybody’s for a little while, having local bands play in the store on a Saturday afternoon. No stores did that back then. No stage- nuthin fancy – just set up on the floor and rock. It was mostly an excuse for us to get to goof off. As I recall, we had Rob Morgan’s band The Pudz (Rob would replace me at the store when I left, a couple years later I would come back and replace him) and Student Nurse. Both were reasonably attended – nuthin too crazy. Then we had The Heats. The joint was packed out with high school age kids. It was a night and day difference between the rather insular arty punky scene and guys who were connecting with a young, real audience. Some were Howie’s aforementioned young bar hoppers, but The Heats were connecting with high school kids too – the real deal. Viva la youth!
What the Seattle bars, or any local bar, wanted out of local bands was songs that their clientele would relate to, dance to and drink more beer to. The Heaters/Heats managed to hit every mark. They could fill a tavern with enthusiastic dancing, drinking fools until closing. Their audience not only shouted out the names of the covers they wanted to hear, they called out the names of the Heaters/Heats songs too! I think the local bars started to realize that maybe some of the original music in town did have a draw. This is what the Heaters/Heats (and other bands of the late 70’s/early 80’s) did to help the new underground rock of Seattle and the Northwest evolve to the next level. They helped give them more stages to play on.
I liked The Heats plenty fine when they put out their album. I’m a record kinda guy. At the time, it was perhaps a tad too Beatle-y (translate wimpy) for my snooty tastes. Thirty years on, I like its uber catchy rock tunes even better (hey, I even own Beatles albums now) and have a pretty high regard for their solid musicianship. We’ve included a few unreleased live tunes here and you will hear these guys could stand up and deliver the goods.
The Heats got a ton of local press in their day –Erik Lacitis in the Seattle Times wrote about them a couple million times. Everybody was sure they would get signed to a major. There was even some Longacres ad with them in it as the next big thing. Well, The Heats did not make it big. They made it pretty big. Respectable. They did their thing and went their separate ways and mostly became grownups.
Viva la Heats!
PS. Various members still play some. Steve Pearson is playing with Jim Basnight of the Moberleys again in The NW Rivals. They will be performing Friday June 3, 2011 in Seattle at Club Motor. Don Short’s band Random Manor, started with my late pal Tom Pfaeffle, made an album recently.
PPS. If you want to own some fine Heats songs, you can get Smoke, which includes many of these fine songs from Chucky Boy. A Japanese company reissued Have An Idea which you can get on Amazon for $40. If you go to Heats site http://www.heatersrock.com/ they have a double live CD available.
PPPS. I was looking at the Heats Rivals single sleeve and was amused to see that the wall they are standing in front of has a Mr. Epp and the Calculations flyer behind them.
Steve Pearson – Guitar, Vocals
Don Short – Guitar, Vocals
Keith Lilly – Bass, Vocals
Ken Deans – Drums
Wayne Clack – Bass on In Your Town, Rivals and Count On Me
Rick Bourgoin – Drums on In Your Town
1-14 Produced by Howard Leese, 15 produced by Ann Wilson, 16 & 17 produced by Pat Hewitt. Tracks from the Smoke CD mastered by Steve Turnidge.
1. Have An Idea (The Heats)
2. When You’re Mine (S. Pearson)
3. Sorry Girls (K. Deans)
4. Nights With You (S. Pearson, D. Short)
5. Some Other Guy (S. Pearson)
6. Remember Me (D. Short)
7. Ordinary Girls (D. Short)
8. I Don’t / She Don’t Mind (S. Pearson)
9. Call Yourself A Man (S. Pearson, D. Short)
10. I Don’t Like Your Face (S. Pearson)
11. Night Shift (D. Short)
12. Divorcee (K. Lilly)
13. Questions Questions (S. Pearson)
14. Let’s All Smoke (S. Pearson, D. Short) (studio)
15. In Your Town (S. Pearson, D. Short) (studio)
16. Rivals (single)
17. Count on Me (single)
18. I’m Good for You (S. Pearson, D. Short) (Live on CFOX Canada)
19. New Saddle (Live at the Showbox)
20. Train Kept A-Rollin’ (Live at Evergreen)
21. Plane Crash (Live at Evergreen)
22. Hurt By Love-Reader’s Wives (Live at the Showbox)
Thanks to Ken Deans for letting us have at with all this stuff, thanks to Howie Wahlen for being smart enough to record on Thanksgiving 1979 and most of all thanks to The Heats for making the racket!
All songs © by The Heats except the covers. Don’t know who wrote what but I’ve got my guesses.
Train Kept A-Rollin’ (Tiny Bradshaw, Howard Kay, Lois Mann) is mostly a Yardbirds cover, Hurt is from the magnificent Chris Spedding, Readers Wives (N. Brown) is a cover from Dave Edmunds’ Tracks on Wax 4 LP.