Photo by Red Feather West. [L-R]: David Self, Larry Wayne Slaton, John Chester, Josh Coe, Nathan James Hall

FM PREMIERE: Old Heavy Hands share ‘The Flood’ ​

"As I gazed at the Atlantic, with waves crashing and the ocean's formidable power in view, lyrics emerged effortlessly"
5 December 2023

Greensboro, NC’s genre-defying “y’allternative” outfit, Old Heavy Hands, sets the musical stage ablaze with their latest album, Small Fires. This collection of raw and emotionally charged tracks showcases the band’s evolution, blending southern rock, Muscle Shoals Americana, alt-rock, and punk influences into a powerful narrative of personal growth and resilience.

Before the album drops, we’re showcasing the standout track The Flood, that explores biblical tales and personal contemplations on mortality, delivering a powerful and intense experience that leaves us eager for more.

Nate Hall explains: “It began as a riff I played for months, maybe even years, but it never progressed beyond that initial melody. The turning point occurred at my brother’s house by the coast, where in the aftermath of a passing hurricane, the song unfolded naturally. As I gazed at the Atlantic, with waves crashing and the ocean’s formidable power in view, lyrics emerged effortlessly. The song encapsulates the resilience observed after a storm surge demolishes beaches, yet we rebuild, symbolizing perseverance and renewal—a fresh start. Incorporating horns into the track was a new venture for us, enhancing the overall impact and emotional depth of the song.”

The band, comprised of Nathan James Hall (vocals, guitar), Larry Wayne Slaton (vocals, guitar, keys), David Self (lead guitar, vocals), Josh Coe (bass, mandolin), and John Chester (drums), has overcome life’s trials, including battling cancer and overcoming addiction. Small Fires stands as a testament to their tenacity, both in life and in music, allowing them to share stages with luminaries such as Jason Isbell, John Moreland, Lucero, Joshua Ray Walker, and Tyler Childers.

Produced by Danny Fonorow and engineered by industry legends Ted Comberford and Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Pavement, Wilco, Drive-By Truckers) at The Fidelitorium, ‘Small Fires’ boasts a stellar lineup of collaborators. Additional recording by Benjy Johnson (Earthtones Recording Studio) and mixing by Henry Lunetta (Machine Gun Kelly, Bring Me The Horizon) elevates the album’s sonic landscape, with mastering by Greg Calbi & Steve Fallone (Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie).

The origin of the band’s moniker, Old Heavy Hands, emerges from the camaraderie of the Legacy Irons Tattoo shop. Nathan James Hall, Larry Wayne Slaton, and David Self found musical kinship while working and living in Greensboro. Their songs, born during acoustic sessions in the tattoo shop and finalized in Hall’s barn-turned-practice space, reflect the tight-knit community and unique atmosphere of Greensboro.

Small Fires kicks off with the anthemic Runaround, setting the thematic tone for the album. The track explores self-revelatory lyrics about personal growth and awakening, a recurrent theme throughout the album. From the cosmic country sounds of Coming Down to the poignant power ballad Shelter Me, Old Heavy Hands weaves a tapestry of sonic diversity, showcasing their versatility and musical prowess.

The heart-wrenching power ballad Shelter Me addresses social injustices, paying homage to lives lost unjustly, while The Flood delves into biblical narratives and personal reflections on mortality. The album’s emotional depth culminates in the closing track, When the Lights Go Out, an exploration of psychedelic experiences and leaving behind youthful indiscretions.

Old Heavy Hands navigates various musical landscapes, from the misery-loves-company rock of Old Demons to the cosmic country of Hands of Time, a love song to their mothers. Each track serves as a chapter in the band’s journey, reflecting growth, resilience, and the passage of time.

As Old Heavy Hands continues to evolve, Small Fires serves as a sonic testament to their journey. Hall, Slaton, and Self’s musical camaraderie remains unyielding, and their commitment to pushing creative boundaries is evident throughout the album.

In the words of Larry Wayne Slaton, “After the record comes out, we want to play as many places as we can. Me and Nate have more than enough songs for another record. So we’ll keep working on the next one. Bigger and better!”