Though mostly known for country music royalty—the likes of Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash—Nashville has a flourishing indie-rock scene, that along with the neighborhood streets, the hills, and the woods—make this a perfect place for Heypenny to create their world of indie-pop-fun-rock.
With outstanding performances like their "Road To Bonnaroo" show, which had them marching through the capacity crowd accompanied by an 11-piece marching band thusly winning them a coveted spot performing at the 2009 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, to their "CopCar Release Party" which featured performances by 7 of their favorite regional bands and local artists painting giant 8'x5' versions of the pages from their EP, which is packaged as a coloring book, they've been rapidly building their profile and fanbase, inking them as a must see live show.
Heypenny recently headlined the final night of Next Big Nashville at Mercy Lounge, closing out the festival to a sold out crowd. Running with big ideas and surprises, they played a short 7-song set of blistering, high energy songs and then made a surprise move to the middle of the crowd with an upright piano, string quartet and horn section, blanketing the audience in a hundred feet of white Christmas lights. Suffice to say, they think big and deliver.
Three years ago, Ben Elkins lived about 150 miles south of Nashville in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He experimented with sounds and spaces and new ways of writing songs. Through these efforts, Heypenny was born and an album called Use These Spoons was completed and Elkins relocated to Nashville, TN and recruited long-time friends Kevin Bevil and DJ Murphy on guitar and bass respectively.
Though never fully distributed, Use These Spoons made waves in the blogosphere and garnered accolades throughout the region/country/Western hemisphere for its pop-infused balance of rhythm, harmony, and DIY brilliance, ultimately selling out of all their pressings.
What started out as a quiet, solitary and patient endeavor has over the last year erupted into a staccato-rock band that finds company with contemporaries, while channeling the pop-appeal of Michael Jackson, and the naiveté of Sesame Street.
The band, now a complete 4-piece, who’ve been known to dress in tailor-made Neapolitan-colored marching band uniforms or futuristic LEGO-MAN/robot outfits, put on an explosively energetic live rock show that rivals most. And it’s their DIY aesthetic that makes it something wholly unique and special. It’s the attention to detail—those custom, hand-made uniforms to the old-fashioned, big-knobbed, wood-paneled television sets that bathe the audience in abstract colors, flashing and pulsing with the songs—that gives the audience and actual show.
At last years, SXSW, the band performed as part of the Red Gorilla showcases—their time slot competing with Peter, Bjorn & John—and the bar was at capacity with a line serpentining into the street. At Bonnaroo, the band was thrown into an unforgiving slot, performing opposite Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Grizzly Bear and Santigold, yet they still managed to attract quite a crowd and leave them with an impression. Graham Hawthorne, drummer for David Byrne emailed the band after their performance and said that he happily stumbled onto the set and that it was perhaps “the best thing he saw at the festival.” It’s little things like that, going in as the underdog and winning the hearts, minds and ears of strangers that keeps them going and make them pour everything they have into perfecting their craft and giving their fans something memorable.
Heypenny is currently finishing up their follow-up to Use These Spoons. It will be released in 2010 with subsequent tours to follow.
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