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Heros Severum: tropical fish, angry god, or band from Athens, Georgia?
By MuzikMan
(more articles from this author)
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Their music succeeded in keeping me occupied right from the starting gun to the curtain closer, there was no time for mental masturbation...

Eric Friar (guitar, vocals), Sheryl Branch (guitar, vocals, piano), and Jeff Cummings (drums, percussion, backing vocals) are the rockin' trio with the name of a tropical fish. The name is certainly different and I could not imagine where they got it. Friar answers, "The origin of the name is a bit more simplistic than it might seem. I saw the phrase written down and I thought it looked cool. It was the name of a tropical fish. When I typed it into an online translating program, it came back as 'severe or angry god'. I thought that was pretty cool too, so the name stuck." Interestingly enough, their sound is not angry or severe at all. It is surely rock music with an alternative edge, although, it's not so intense that it could be considered as progressive rock. Furthermore, it certainly is not overproduced and so polished it sounds like pop aimed at the Top-Forty.

MP3: "Out of Round"

I mentioned to Eric that I thought they may have been influenced by the trail blazing rock artists the Talking Heads, and he commented that it was a comparison that they had heard before with hopes that it is in reference to their originality, integrity, and intelligence that prevails in their music. Eric indicates that the David Byrne comparisons are due to the limitations of his vocal delivery rather than a perception of his efforts to sound like someone else.

While listening to their new album, "Wonderful Educated Bear," I heard vocals that were sing-talk, rap style all backed by guitar licks that go back and forth while bouncing off the percussion like a bunch of fireflies in a big open field. Their music succeeded in keeping me occupied right from the starting gun to the curtain closer, there was no time for mental masturbation... and that is a good thing for discriminating listeners.

"It [not having a bassist] also keeps our guitar parts a little more reined in, in that one of us is always acting as the anchor, playing simple rhythms, which allows the song to have more complicated patterns. Simple parts that are interestingly arranged are our bread 'n' butter."

MP3: "From Foot to Foot"

Another exclusive aspect of their sound is that they do not have a bass player in place like most groups. This aspect, however, has not tainted their sound in any way, for that matter, it sounds just as good without the instrument that normally serves as an integral part of a rhythm section. The group feels that playing without bass allows more creativity and gives them the ability to experiment with percussion and other interesting sounds. Not having a bass player was not planned, it just happened that way. The three members had a chemistry that worked and did not want to upset that balance in any way. Friar also mentioned that he thinks that the guitar parts are more controlled and effective minus the bass.

Athens, Georgia is a hotbed of music that is a direct manifestation of every band that comes from the area with the feelings and sounds of the city's colorful and vibrant energy. "No matter what you think about the music coming out on the Kindercore label, you have to be proud as an Athenian that they have gone out and had a lot of success. They grew from being the guys who lived next door to people like me who put out a cassette tape compilation to being one of the premier Indie labels in the U.S.," says Friar.

Pride and a sense of responsibility to their audience is the driving force of bands like Heros Severum. They serve as a great example of how a sense of whom they are and their originality can transcend even the music that they create. In a word, they embrace the spirit and camaraderie of Indie Music.

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