Old Heavy Hands, have ‘Mercy’
Pulling up punk roots and resiliency, the tattooed troubadours in Old Heavy Hands will perform a live show of their latest release, Mercy, at the Blind Tiger on June 21.
Playing with melodic punkers of Basement Life and Southern rockers Eno Mountain Boys, it’s a release show nine months in the making as Old Heavy Hands put things on pause while ringleader Nate Hall underwent treatment for a tumor discovered in tandem with Mercy’s initial release in October.
“We decided not to do any touring or play any shows until my chemo treatments were over,” Hall said. “Sometimes it’s just hard to stay away from the things you love.”
“We love rock’n’roll. We love tattooing. But we really love having a good time,” he added.
Old Heavy Hands is “true Southern music by real people,” a five-piece these days, Hall is joined at the core by fellow Legacy Irons tattoo artists, Larry Wayne and David Self.
“I’ve heard people classify us as heavy Americana and I can get with that,” Hall noted. “I feel like we’re more of old punk rockers who can’t play as fast anymore.”
Their material is straight forward. “We write songs of days past while still staying conscious of the road ahead and the issues we all face,” Hall explained. “Songwriting just comes from living–and we’ve all done our fair share of that, for sure.”
A fair share, indeed. The dudes were recently dealt a heavy hand when Hall’s health faltered following his return from a West Coast tour with Lucero’s Ben Nichols back in September.
“I woke up in the middle of the night with severe pain and had to be rushed to the hospital,” Hall recalled, “turned out, my appendix was about to explode, so I underwent an emergency appendectomy.” His follow-up appointment revealed a “large goblet cell carcinoid tumor.”
“It was pretty devastating,” Hall said. “We canceled all our shows and had to take a step back to figure out how to navigate this new path.”
Coming out on the other side of chemo, Hall’s latest CT scans were cancer-free, and the boys are ready to give Mercy a proper release. “Everything happened all around the same time with my diagnosis,” he explained. “We never really got to do a release for it, so we decided it’s time to give Mercy some love.“
“Love drives the bus,” Hall insisted. “The huge outpouring of love and support from everyone, near and far, made the road a little less rocky.” Now on more stable ground, he expressed appreciation for “quality time with the ones you love and the ones who love you back.”
“Being home with my family every day helped me stay focused on getting better,” Hall added, “and that love helped me write new material while I was laid up, and helped me focus on the things in life that are more important.”
The new material will likely end up on the five-song EP Old Heavy Hands has planned. But for now, the spotlight remains on Mercy.
“We didn’t really have the chance to promote it like we wanted to in the wake of everything,” Hall admitted. “So we’re doing the best we can now. We’re very proud of this record, and want as many people as we can to hear it.”
For the show, they’ve tapped the Eno Mountain Boys and Basement Life. “We met the Eno Mountain Boys a couple months back, and they’re a great band that we felt we’d blend well together,” Hall explained, “and Basement Life is some of our old friends who play awesome post-punk.”
As for the recording process, “Mercy was a blast to make,” Hall insisted. “Any time you get to spend with your best friends making records is magical. It took a while between touring and living, but we all collectively made it happen.”
Mercy was recorded with Jordan Powers and Brandon Hackler of Dynamic Soundworks, who also worked on Old Heavy Hands’ self-titled first album. The record itself is available on vinyl through Cheap Thrills Records out of Dallas. “Texas is always good to us,” Hall noted.
Back home, “the Triad music and tattoo communities have been amazing,” he added. “So many people stepped up to donate their time and talents to help my family out. It’s been a true blessing, for sure.”
Have mercy. Old Heavy Hands plays their latest album, in its entirety, with Eno Mountain Boys and Basement Life at the Blind Tiger on June 21.
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who hosts the Tuesday Tour Report, a radio show that plays like a mixtape of touring bands, 5:30-7 p.m. on WUAG 103.1fm.