Hallway Heavies
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Hallway Heavies

Cedar Falls, Iowa, United States | SELF

Cedar Falls, Iowa, United States | SELF
Band R&B Funk


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"Heavy Stuff"

By MEREDEE SWITZER, Courier Correspondent

CEDAR FALLS --- It's the night before the album release party and Matt Hartleip, lead guitarist for the local band Hallway Heavies, eagerly walks into the room holding up the first official record of a sound 15 years in the making.

"Here it is," he says with a grin.

The outburst from the band quickly quiets as recognition of the mellow atmosphere at Montage sets in. President of UltimaSongs Records, Steve McLoone, brought the group together in Cedar Falls to celebrate.

"Time for a toast," McLoone announces as he pulls a bottle from the silver bucket at the table's edge. Vocalist LaMonte Williams insists on drinking only hot tea, a voice-sparing beverage, but he makes an exception for the toast and reaches for a glass of champagne.

The band is excited, and for good reason. The core group has been collaborating on other efforts for more than a decade but just recently insisted on laying down tracks for the Heavies' debut album, "So Far ..."

"We've been in several different groups similar to this style," Hartleip says. "But we were on hiatus and we thought it was time to get in and catch it on disc."

Once the decision was made to get in the studio by October, they wasted no time completing the project. Tom Tatman of Catamount Studios in Cedar Falls was an easy choice for producer. During the recording session, it was Tatman who referred them to UltimaSongs.

McLoone identified with their sound almost instantly. He describes their style as "crossover-fusion-rock-jazz-funk," which evokes memories of making music with his own band back in the '70s.

Hartleip believes playing music is no different than speaking a language. Communicating and connecting with the listener becomes their goal for each show. He finds it difficult to put a definition on their sound.

"We primarily consider ourselves a jam band with a bit of an edge," Hartleip adds. "If I had to use one word, 'spontaneous' would be it."

Those unfamiliar with the band might be surprised by the self-description, considering a weighty name like Hallway Heavies. But after seeing their act live, the reason for it becomes clear. By tweaking their sound and improvising as they feed off each other, they are repeatedly successful in playing each song differently every time it is performed.

Justin Appel, who plays keyboard for the band, is the epitome of spontaneity. Conversations pause as the appropriately nicknamed "human jukebox" randomly breaks into song without missing a word. Apparently, he and Williams are known for carrying on full conversations this way. Appel tells the irony behind how the band got its name.

"It's kind of a slam on us, really," he jokes.

Long story short, Hartleip's ear-training teacher at Berklee College of Music in Boston once poked his head out into the hallway and saw the students standing around and goofing off. To which he said, "What a bunch of hallway heavies. You need to get up and start playing." He probably didn't realize it would someday inspire the name of a band.

In a business where record companies are notorious for not only renaming the group but revamping its sound as well, McLoone chooses to model his business after different successful labels. The philosophy is simple: let the artists be who they are.

"It's their deal. It's their thing, and I think we've got to capture that exactly as it is," he says with an intensity in his voice. "The product will speak for itself."

McLoone has big plans and high hopes for the band, which also includes bassist Brandon Mills and drummer Dante Ware. The next step is sending out the album for critic reviews and trying to get airplay on college radio stations across the country. He wants to also focus on digital media, self-publishing and licensing to publicize the band in the coming months. In the meantime, the group will take it slow, continuing to play local gigs in Iowa and Minnesota. Hartleip is very optimistic about the band's future with UltimaSongs.

"We want to establish an environment that fills in the massive void left by the current music industry," he says. "Steve is going to help us build a unique people-driven community here in the Midwest that facilitates creativity and art."
- Waterloo Courier

"Hallway Heavies Sign Record Deal With ULTIMASONGS™"

ULTIMASONGS RECORDS is proud to announce the signing of Hallway Heavies for the upcoming release of "So Far…". In a private ceremony, the Cedar Falls, Iowa group signed with ULTIMASONGS RECORDS for the exclusive release of their CD.

"This is an exciting band, accomplished on every instrument, that essentially recorded this CD live, short of the hot and final vocal tracks," Catamount Recording Studio owner (Grammy-nominated, Gold Record producer for Stone Sour), Tom Tatman said.

"This is a great day for the label. Hallway Heavies is an impressive and talented group with a crossover-fusion-rock-jazz-funk record that is so well produced," label president Steve McLoone announced after the signing in Minneapolis.

Hallway Heavies are: Matt Hartleip on guitar, LaMonte Williams on vocals, Brandon Mills on bass,
Te' Ware on drums, and Justin Appel on keyboards.

Also on the record are: Matt Biegger, Rebecca Davis, and Jessica Williams on vocals, Don Jaques on sax and flute, Nathan Peoples on sax, and Mike Pfaff on percussion.

The foundation of Hallway Heavies has been playing together since their high school days in the early 90's, including: Psychotic Symphony, Green11, Hot Lunch, Hop on Johnny, and Backbeat Syndicate.

The celebration of the signing and CD release on ULTIMASONGS RECORDS will begin:

8:00 PM Saturday, July 28th at The Hub in Cedar Falls with special guests Soul Fusion.

More Information Call: ULTIMASONGS RECORDS at 612-636-6981

or e-mail: info@ultimasongs.com - UltimaSongs Records


2007 - So Far... (©2007 UltimaSongs Records)
2004 - Loco-Motif
2002 - Situation After That
1993 - Mother Have Mercy (single from the Iowa Arts Council Flood Relief CD)



UltimaSongs Recording Artists 'Hallway Heavies':

"Don't play what's there, play what's not there." This famous quote by Miles Davis applies well to fifteen years of musical exploration and experimentation from a group of musicians who have learned, developed, and performed together from the very onset of their musical careers. The result is the creation of a unique musical experience called 'Hallway Heavies'. The upcoming full-length album titled 'So Far...' exemplifies a group of players that have the rare ability to come together and fill in that which is not there in such a manner as to produce a tightly knit collection of original compositions that dare to push the boundaries of each other's comfort zones. 'So Far...' represents just how far the band has come, and how far the listener will go when experiencing the musical perspective of 'Hallway Heavies'.

Hailing from the central part of Iowa, the core of Hallway Heavies has performed and recorded throughout the United States since the early 90s. Blending an eclectic mixture of funk, improv, rock, R & B, blues, and jazz, Hallway Heavies delivers a distinct live show that transcends beyond a typical listener's expectations. Never is a song performed exactly the same way twice, leaving audience members anxious to return. All styles of cover tunes can be found on a typical set list and nothing is off limits with this ensemble. Hallway Heavies is collectively influenced by a wide variety of artists from all genres of music which contributes to a sound reminiscent of artists such as Steeley Dan, Tower of Power, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Grateful Dead, Phish, The Allman Brothers, Mint Condition, and more.

Hallway Heavies constantly strives to expand the boundaries and limitations of their capabilities in an effort to discover and explore that which is not there.