Heavy Load’s Shut It – the stories behind the songs

Next year it will be 10 years of our charity so we’re looking back and gathering our collective memories about the journey we’ve been on.

Heavy Load were the punk band that kicked everything off for us, they became well known for their energetic and chaotic gigs and many of their fans had learning disabilities. They got fed up with seeing their fans told to go home at 9pm due to their support staff being unable to work late. This of course had an impact on their fans rights to not only watch their favourite bands, the inflexibility also affected their social lives and really was just a denial of their right to exercise choice in the way they wanted to live their life.

The final straw for the band was when their drummer Michael was also told he had to go home early after a gig, before he’d even finished his pint.

You can find out more about the band in the award winning feature documentary Heavy Load. (It’s a cracking watch, an emotional roller coaster full tears and laughter and an honest insight in to the world of social care, as well of course as an insight in to the chaotic and crazy world of Heavy Load the band).

Paul (our director and the band’s bass player) remembers some of the stories behind the album…

Shut It – the album

It’s 12 years since Heavy Load released their second album ‘Shut It’, the recording of which is featured in the Heavy Load movie.

Our first album, The Queen Mother’s Dead was a mix of covers and our own material but Shut It was the first time we’d written a whole bunch of songs that were our own and we were really proud of them.

We thought we’d take this opportunity to tell the story behind the songs and a few memories we have about them.

The cover

Firstly we need to mention the wonderful cover by an artist we love hugely Lester Magoogan. The little fella in the bottom right hand corner became known as the ‘Farty Animal’ – more on that later.

Flashing lights

Simon used to get really nervous about having a seizure on stage. This only happened once and was the shortest set we ever played (2 ½ songs at The Old Market, Hove) but quite rightly it bothered him. When they started filming the movie Simon would remind the director (Jerry) and stills photographer (Morgan) not to use any flash photography.

Or in Simon’s words “oi Jerry Rothwell, you can take that camera and stick it up your arse”.

That’s what that song’s all about.

Farty animals

We were channelling glam Bowie with this one about one of Simon’s hilarious one-liners. ‘He fart last night, he fart last night. You’re a farty animal’.

Michael always said it was ‘party animals’.

Stay Up Late

This was the song that launched the Stay Up Late campaign. Paul was working at Southdown Housing at the time and had asked their board if they would help fund the band to release it as a single. The board were really interested and supportive but Paul was then asked to tell them what the lyrics were “we want to Stay Up Late we want to have some fun, we want to drink some beer and go out with your mum”.

Fortunately they saw the profound message we were trying to get across about the denial of the human rights of people with learning disabilities.

This led the band on to start our charity and then Gig Buddies also happened as a result.

Oh Nicole

We lost count of which girlfriend was with half the time but at this moment in time it was Nicole and Simon wanted to sing a song about how much he was in love with her. Sadly it didn’t last that long but at least Nicole had a song written about her!

Bruce Forsyth

When we were on the road we’d have endless conversations where Simon would talk about old celebrities and ask if they were dead or not. Often it was people like Les Dawson or Leslie Crowther but then there were people we weren’t so sure about.

The songs dates itself a bit now as not only have all the subjects died (Bruce Forsyth and Cilla Black) but it would also be rare to write a song about Jimmy Saville these days.

At our last ever gig we couldn’t bring ourselves to mention Jimmy Saville so sang “Is Maggie Thatcher dead” on a massive stage in Trafalgar Square.

She died six months later.

USA

This song was a celebration of all the places we got to play. We’d start by celebrating local spots like Seaford and Burgess Hill and then the wilder places we went on to; New York, Berlin, Scotland and Glastonbury (twice!)

The final shout was always to the place we were at that time, if we could remember.

We’re all in a film

We suggested to Metfilm that as the film was about us we ought to write the tune for the closing credits. I reckon we wrote this on the back of one of Simon’s fag packets and bashed it out pretty quick. It’s there at the end of the movie though so job done!

Yeah, yeah, yeah

I can’t remember too much about this one, it was a jam, we had no words for it, and you could say it’s pure filler.

Counting screws

This was another song we wrote about the rights of people with learning disabilities. Back in those days you’d still here of day centres where there were ‘thereapuetic (?!)’ production lines of people with learning disabilities counting out nails and screws in to little baskets to be bagged up to sell at DIY shops. For this they’d be paid an absolute pittance and the DIY superstores could make more of a profit.

When will we get paid?

There was nothing political about this one. We’d been promised a down payment by Metfilm for the movie and they’d not paid us yet. Seeing as though we were always broke as a band and were impatient to get our hands on some real money (not that it was a fortune) we decided that we would send a song with our invoice. This was it and it had the desired effect. They paid us the next week.

We love George Michael

One of Simon’s most iconic of sayings was “you’re gay at weekends”. It was just a typical greeting he’d give most people he met.

As a band too we had wildly different musical tastes but there was something in George Michael that we all loved and perhaps his punk attitude to living life. This song was our love song to George and everything he stood for.

Secret track

Now we’ve blown it we’ve told you about the secret track! But if you leave the album on you’ll here another track after about 30 seconds silence.

It’s a cover of the amazing soul singer Alice Russell singing ‘We’re all in a film’ and it still gives us goosebumps listening to what she managed to do with one of our songs. Just superb.

So there you have it, the stories behind the songs on Shut It. The song Shut It didn’t make it on to this album but appears on the follow up WHAM.

Buy Shut It here

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