Five Questions With ... Susil Sharma of Heat

It’s tempting to deploy all kinds of clichés when talking about the band Heat. For example, it could be said that their rise through the Montreal indie scene has been a “slow burn,” or that their full-length debut album Overnight—out January 20 via The Hand Recordings in Canada—is expected to be “warmly received.”

But I’m not going to do that. These are three serious guys who play melodic post-punk that often recalls the work of New Order and Echo & The Bunnymen during their ‘80s peak years, but with a dash of Strokes-ish New York swagger added for good measure. Not surprisingly, these traits tickled the fancy of the British press after Heat’s first trip across the pond in 2015, with NME lauding them as “one of the most exciting bands we’ve heard all year.”

Overnight should build on that momentum, with its nine tracks deftly balancing the band’s knack for pop hooks and their furious guitar and synth assault. In that sense, tapping Grammy winner Alex Newport as co-producer was the ideal choice, based on his past work with Death Cab For Cutie and At The Drive-In. Newport also helped Heat find their way in their current stripped down line-up, which seems to have stabilized after beginning as a five-piece and enduring many changes over the past couple of years.

But the band’s core remains vocalist/guitarist Susil Sharma and guitarist/keyboardist Matthew Fiorentino, whose original scattershot musical vision has now come into glorious focus on Overnight. Sharma brought us up to speed on all of this as Heat prepares for tour dates in eastern Canada that kick off Feb. 2 in Montreal, and include an appearance at Hillside Inside in Guelph on Feb. 11. For more info go to heat-band.com.

It’s been noted that the band has had a turbulent history to this point. Care to share some details about that?

We’ve undergone a ton of lineup changes and stylistic shifts over our history so far. Aside from going through that artistic change, we’ve certainly felt the pressure of being a hype band, along with all the touring and personal changes in our lives—marriage, relationships beginning and ending, addiction and recovery, etc. 

Through all that, it seems like the only way to maintain and enjoy being in this band is focusing on the friendship and love of music we all share. It’s really the only thing that matters at the end of the day.

 

Overnight certainly captures a lot of raw energy and emotion. Did it turn out the way you planned it?

Part of the album was very meticulously planned and part of it was born out of last minute studio chaos. We changed drummers a week before going into the studio and I think there was a lot of tension in the air. We all wanted to deliver the best performances and sometimes that led to conflicting ideas of how a song would work best. 

As a songwriter, there’s always a tricky line to walk: staying true to my original ideas and emotions that make up the song and being open to embracing the energy and change that can be found with taking risks. Ultimately, no, it didn’t end up exactly how I planned it, but I’m proud of what it ended up becoming.

 

What are your major goals for the coming year?

We just want to support the hell out of this album. We love playing and, especially, touring to new places. There are lots of new arrangements and elements to the live show that I’m excited about and we’ve got about 30 songs in the bank to sort through for the second LP. Who knows when the hell that’ll end up coming about, but I’m stoked for that too.

 

What have been your most memorable touring experiences, in Canada or elsewhere?

We did a six-week tour of the States supporting Bully last year. That was amazing. There's so many cool cities and people all over the US and we always have a blast playing there. Doing the UK was amazing as well. There have also been some awesome opportunities at home. Supporting Interpol in Quebec was great and opening for Primal Scream in Toronto was a dream come true.

 

What song in your catalogue means the most to you and why?

“The Unknown” [from Overnight] is really special to me. I wrote it at a time in my life where I just felt really overwhelmed and unsure of what was going on. It’s all about faith and acceptance. It was the last song we got back on final mixes and I had a nice little moment listening to it on headphones by myself in the middle of the night. It brought me back full circle to my teenage years, I suppose.

 

 

Leave a comment