…Right after I got married — heyo!
In his first column for The Obelisk, guitarist/vocalist Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson hits on the topic of “heavy” and what it is about it that allows for near-universal application. He tells his story, and I hope you’ll share yours in the comments below.
When did you get heavy?
by Mario Lalli
Have you ever thought about when and where and how… and why heavy rock and roll speaks to you? How did you come to discover the music and what about it moves you? What was the first step you took as a kid that led you to be reading this blog dedicated to hard rock and the culture that embraces it? The music, art, fashion, style, all of it.
It’s interesting to me to think about how certain sounds make me feel. How a “style” of music can become polarized because of the feeling that I get when I hear it is relevant to my experience. I’ll try to explain this thought… My experiences with hearing music as a child are probably very similar to yours.
The first meaningful songs we heard as babes are lullabies, nursery rhymes, etc. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”-kind of stuff. A lot of us also had music as part of our family culture… folkloric songs passed from generation to generation, music you hear in church. This kind of music has a different place in my head than a lot of the stuff I later discovered, listened to and became obsessed with (for many different reasons). There is an infinite spectrum of sounds and songs that move me in almost indescribable ways and then there is this word “heavy.”
What makes a sound, song or something “heavy?” Even more perplexing is why do I think that sounds “heavy?” When did my experiences during my pre-pubescent overload of TV, movies, real-life culture, pop culture and every other entertaining distraction the ‘60s and ‘70s tell my brain what sounds heavy? There’s got to be a reason that the first time I heard ”In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” (Iron Butterfly) at three or four years old I already knew what “trippy” meant and that frontal-lobe-searing fuzz guitar means your frying balls. I knew that at four years old. The instant I heard that fucking rad song. Why??!!
The conditioning that goes into really understanding “heavy” is not limited to those of us that feasted on the magical ceramic wizards of rock — Blue Cheer, Cream, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Hendrix — but also someone who wouldn’t know any of these artists if he heard them: My father. My father is 88 years old and has been an operatic tenor since he was 18. He is very open minded while highly educated musically. The thing is he also uses the term “heavy” to describe a musical passage or a feeling in a movement. The other day we were discussing classical composers and their style and approach. He used the word heavy to explain the relentless jarring harmonies and orchestration of Richard Wagner.
And the “heavy” is in Wagner‘s Ring Cycle — a series of operas based on Norse Sagas, Vikings, Gods, death, Germanic mythology. This stuff gets pretty fucking heavy. The kind of heavy that makes Black Sabbath sound like bluegrass. Anyway the super cool thing: It’s that it’s a relative term that while varying in complexity and depth still describes and conveys this basic dramatic feeling. Now where the bell-bottoms, mag wheels and muttonchops fit in I’m not real sure… but I love it all!
Tags: Mario Lalli