Amplified Heat

Amplified Heat


The idea is to "amp up" the blues playing it at louder volumes and in a frentic manner.


The Ortiz brothers—a.k.a. Amplified Heat—are passing the phone around, making sure everybody gets their two cents in this official biography that announces the band and their Arclight Records debut, In for Sin. It’s bassist Gian’s turn, and as his guitar-spanking bro Jim hands him the phone, he says, “You’re up, bitch. Go for it!”
It’s brotherly banter, common sibling shit-talk—and the essence of Amplified Heat. The Colombian-American brothers have been playing music together as long as they can remember. Like brothers do, they bicker, and as much as they’re bound together; their relationship and music are intense, combustible—Amplified Heat. “We have a chemistry,” says drummer Chris, “that only the three of us can understand.” It is, however, something everyone can enjoy.
AMPH’s roots are in Houston, and reach back to the brothers’ school days (1988, when thrash metal’s popularity was cresting) and originally involved only Chris, Jim and an unrelated Ortiz—Thomas (Gian was 11 years old and forbidden to join/unable to gig). They played a single unamplified electric guitar and sundry pound-able objects (typically buckets) passed for drums. They called themselves Mass Abomination, and held among their influences Black Sabbath, Megadeth, The Who, Hendrix, Cream, Deep Purple and Blue Cheer. One rule governed their endeavors: no covers; originality ruled.
“We wanted to form our own style,” Chris explains. “So we worked on coming up with our own stuff right off the bat.”
Mass Abomination would record an EP using Jim’s studio resources at the Art Institute of Houston, and promptly lost it and “the vibe” in 1995. Jim and Chris formed Blues Condition (the name taken from Cream’s Disraeli Gears album) in honor of the newly-acquired influence of Lightnin’ Hopkins, Hound Dog Taylor and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (the ’68 Bare Wires lineup) and continued under the same ethos, only amped-up in light of the surplus of blues bands on the scene.
“We thought we’d supercharge the blues,” says Jim, “make it heavier and louder and faster [Ed: Chris would add, “…with more balls to it!”] than everyone else in order to set ourselves apart.”
It worked, for better and worse. Older musicians—blues purists—complained that Blues Condition was too loud, and lacked respect for the music. Keener ears heard the reverence above the din, and urged them to continue. But in 1997, the vibe had again slipped away and the band became a casualty of the “bland and boring” Houston music scene. Chris followed his future wife to Austin, where he played with blues rocker Jamie Krueger (who complained Chris’ drumming was too loud), and Jim kept up his chops as a member of The Toxic Hillbillies. That is, until 1999 when Jim and an of-age Gian joined Chris in Austin and resuscitated Blues Condition.
But in Austin, the home of Stevie Ray Vaughan, people wanted to hear blues bands doing their best “Cold Shot” or “Pride and Joy.” Blues Condition held fast, one of the few bands with the sense and respect not to touch the classics, but their name and their policy caused confusion and a dearth of gigs. This notwithstanding, they remained bent on scorching their own path with their loud-and-proud blues. The only change would be their name, as they adopted another Cream reference: Amplified Heat.
“This is the best move we’ve ever made!” Chris would enthuse as the band found its niche on Austin’s roiling Red River scene among Dixie Witch, Honky and Super Heavy Goat Ass. AMPH’s crowds began to swell, and fans scarfed up copies of a self-produced EP. And after red-hot performances at the 2004 South-by-Southwest convention, serendipity struck: while tweaking some recordings at Austin’s Republic Studios—the sister company of Arclight Records—AMPH caught the attention of Arclight’s Dave Elizondo, who offered the band a deal three days later. The tweak session became a full-fledged recording session for In for Sin.
A ten-tiered dose of Amplified Heat’s combustible, intense, blues-based rock n’ roll, In for Sin was recorded in as many days last April. As the band tells it, Elizondo helped set up, which Chris included micing of the drums then let AMPH just…go for it. “Dave gave us a no-tension environment,” says Chris. “He let us break loose and jam and get freshened up before an actual take. That technique of recording suited us very nicely.”
This is brutally obvious from the first explosive moments of the kickoff track “In for Sin,” which sets a furious tone that lasts the duration of the album. Throughout the breakneck 3-minute boogie-woogie shuffle, Chris’ drumming is frantic and focused, unhinged and at maximum torque, locked vapor tight with Gian’s rollicking bass, and Jim’s guitar sings the blues while he shout-growls about an ideal woman (big-breasted, cooks dinner, keeps ya warm at night).
Henceforth, In for Sin becomes a balls-out endurance run toward a finish in flames. The “loud and nasty” hotrod-love anthem “Roadrunner” (which


Amplified Heat EP (self released) 2004
In For Sin (Arclight Records) 2004

Set List

set lists are usually an hour or hour 1/2. songs vary every night and
have been songs from the album and the ep. most common are:
heart attack
in for sin
wagon wheel
just a junkie
workin' man (not on either album or ep)
rumble (link wray cover).