Heavy Deeds goes for Light Lunch

"This is a roll-your-windows-down-and-cruise-the-street album"
Sarah Nienaber

Heavy Deeds first formed as a band two years ago. But those two years got loaded with with life changes — jobs, projects, and relationships — that kept recorded material on hold. For some artists, the constant postponing would be a sign that the band just wasn't meant to be — but that never occurred to Chris Bierden or Chris Rose.

"Basically, everyone's life kind of shifted when this band got on its feet," says Bierden, nursing a cup of tea at a south Minneapolis joint. "But this isn't a side project to any one of us."

"It was a choice not to rush it," emphasizes Rose.

Personnel-wise, Heavy Deeds sort of reincarnates the guys' old indie-rock band with Rose's brother Alex, Vampire Hands, along with a couple of new recruits, Sara Bischoff and Molly Harrington.

Their debut EP, titled Light Lunch, is a sprawling five songs filled with warm guitars, reverberating synths, and group vocals deftly evoking the spirit of the late '60s and early '70s. It wouldn't sound out of place in rotation between Neil Young and the Band, and it's got summer anthems written all over it. Finally in physical form now, and just released Tuesday on Old Blackberry Way, the five tracks stretch out over a breezy 24 minutes. The band sums it up as "psych-fog."

"This is a roll-your-windows-down-and-cruise-the-street album," says Rose. "I would like to think it's going to fit the springtime mood that everyone's going to be in when it comes out."

For the most part, Rose seems to be your archetypical strong-and-silent leader. Between his moody, scaled-back solo project Robust Worlds and his hand in Web of Sunsets (with Bischoff and Sarah Nienaber), Heavy Deeds comes as something of a surprise.

"It's like the sunnier side of Chris Rose," jokes Bierden. "When I first heard these songs that he was bringing to us, I got really excited. I was struck with this vision, because I could kind of hear these overwhelmingly joyful sounds, with this group atmosphere, the five of us together."

Bierden, with his heavy mop of dark curls, seems to be the most excitable member of the group — and as the bassist for Poliça, he's also getting called out of town a lot. But the best part for Rose and Bierden about having their hands in so many different projects is that it keeps their perspective fresh — and it gives them an outlet for their creativity.

"I keep saying that I'm more happy with this than anything I've recorded in recent history," enthuses Bierden. "My feeling is that it started out as a Chris Rose brainchild, and now it's branched out into all these different people writing songs. That can get complicated, because we don't know what songs to keep working on, but it's a good problem to have."

"I've been the impatient one," says Bischoff, the band's percussionist, of the time it's taken to get Light Lunch off the ground. "For me and Molly, this was our first-ever band, and we just wanted to get it out there.... But the fact that it's taken so long, I've learned, is actually a good thing. It sounds so cheesy, but it's been a blessing in disguise. It's given us time to really figure out what we want to sound like and how our songs should flow."

Bischoff, who is also Bierden's girlfriend, talks easily and happily about her bandmates. She laughs good-naturedly at Rose and Bierden in a way that signifies the deep comfort she feels with Heavy Deeds and the music they've made together. Harrington, explains Bischoff, actually came to the band as Chris Rose's girlfriend's sister, and all the band members live within a 10-block radius of one another. It's one of those things where "band life" and "real life" are one and the same. "Take me home," demands the band on the slow-smoldering tune "One Drum." And, indeed, home they are.

"We always joke that we're a family band," says Bischoff with a laugh. "We better keep on liking each other!"

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