Hailing from the sunny state of Florida, Corey Heaven is offering a sincere return to his roots. Give the Kid A Smoke is the debut solo record from Corey that evokes nostalgia for a simpler time. Incorporating classic rock licks and catchy, sometimes very personal, and introspective lyrics, I immediately felt a sense of connectedness upon first listen. Every itch I'd had for a contemporary On The Beach-era revival record is scratched by this project. Corey seamlessly executes bold production choices on this record, exemplified by Silo and Isolation 4 Now, which we dissected in detail during our interview.
This record really showcases Corey's songwriting talent and his knowledge of song composition. From the first note of Skies of Blue, I was transported to the summer of 2015, before I bore the weight of any adult real-world responsibility. I would drive around with my windows rolled all the way down because I didn't have A/C, absolutely scorching in the summer heat. I would occasionally glance up at the giant clouds and piercing blue skies and feel an overwhelming sense of calm; everything was okay then. If this is the debut album from Corey Heaven, you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be riding shotgun for where ever he goes next. I caught up with Corey to discuss the inspiration for the record and the intention behind some of the album's most compelling artistic choices.
Artwork by Gil Sayfan and Pali c/o Drug Doin' Music
What and who is Corey Heaven? I'm a working-class guy from a small town! (Shit kicker) I played in hardcore bands most notably Unified Right and Slow Burn from the West Coast of Florida (Venice & Sarasota). I’m originally from upstate New York, born in Troy, lived outside of the mountains grew up with smoking in restaurants even after the ban. I lived outdoors and watched TV land and The Simpsons because we only had 24 channels. I lived in a very cool world, I call it the “old world”. I moved to Florida at age 15 and I just didn’t get it! I dropped out of high school. At 17, already smoking pot and listening to hardcore, I started to visit some of the classic radio hits of Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, and The Smashing Pumpkins and did nothing but write riffs and smoke pot.. Then I discovered the Beatles catalog and instantly fell in love and realized melody and voice and songwriting is my favorite thing in this whole world and at that point, I just had to do it myself. Listening was no longer enough, and I knew I wanted to create music of my own. I’ve always been creative and never knew what to do with it so songwriting replaced skateboarding and being a lazy stoner (which would soon be replaced with alcohol).
Did you write and perform all the music on give the kid a smoke? Is this your first solo record if so? Yeah, it’s my first solo record and it took years and years to make, although at the time I was never really making these songs for a cohesive album. I would just record one at a time and get really discouraged and move on to the next song. I would say I have like over 100 songs recorded but these are the ones that stood out and I finally decided to release them in a cohesive, sequenced album. I played everything on these songs and I both mixed and mastered it. The only song with somebody else is Silo, which features drums by Hunter Oswald. Hunter played drums in the band Down By Law and helped me produce that track, which was done to a Yamaha 4 track cassette recorder. I felt bad while we were recording that track because he had recently quit smoking cigarettes and while I’m making music I tend to smoke a lot, but he also brought lots of strange alcohol like fruit-flavored ciders and thick IPA beers so I guess it was a fair trade-off?
How has the writing process been for give the kid a smoke? Has it been something you’ve been working on and writing for a while?
I love catchy music. I always kind of think about the radio even though the radio doesn’t really exist for DIY rockers and it’s just a bunch of ultra mega bullshit. I still like to think of writing a song In a classic radio-friendly pop formula.. I like to catch people, I like to catch myself. That’s what I try to do! I like a melody that sticks with you. I like the Beatles, I like pop songs. However, production is a complete sham!! A good song is a good song. The writing process involves laying on my bed at night strumming my guitar, humming random gibberish over chords and blind finger shapes and, if something strikes me, I record it on my phone. If it gets stuck in my head long enough I will attempt to record it properly! Lyrics come after melody. I write down weird word ideas all the time. “Hit Shit Shows”. “Exit King Reality”.
Lots of old-time phrases and normal everyday lingo. When I have a melody it’s either already in the song or I look at my notes and find the “starting point”. From there, the chords tell me what the song needs to be about.
What was influencing your writing? Were you listening to anything in particular for influence? Influence is a very strange subject. I would say I grew up on my parent's music, which would’ve been Rush, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Steely Dan (etc.), and a lot of radio rock, which I don’t need to go into detail about because we all know what I’m talking about whether it be good or terrible. But I definitely carry what I heard as a young kid with me as a songwriter and that’s just the truth. Specific influence would be The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Guided By Voices, Neil Young, Foo Fighters, Carole King, Hüsker Dü, Buzzcocks, Oasis, The Lemonheads, Teenage Fanclub, The Byrd’s. I’m also always influenced by my friends. Whatever they’re listening to, what they’re into at the time that’s always something that I’m paying attention to. I’ve learned a lot from my friends. Also knowing what music is garbage is super important. Maybe even more important?
Are there any emotions or moods you were trying to portray to the listener?
Songs like Skies of Blue are really my middle ground, very optimistic. I always think things will get better! That song is about a breakup or even never being able to get together with the person you want to be with, in the first place, and accepting it for what it is, knowing that the world will keep going and it’s a beautiful beautiful place to be.
I could go on and on about each song. I think the general mood of the record is longing for something, whether it's an optimistic longing or a little down in the dumps... I guess that’s just life uncertainties. I guess I’d like to think of this album as a hard staple in the human condition keeping the different pages of emotions and experiences close by, stored, and documented.
What do you want the listener to take away/walk away with? I want the listener to feel!! I want them to feel a sense of security and hope, I want them to feel nostalgic, but good nostalgia. Like the smell of fresh-cut grass on a hot summer, day right before you're about to go swimming or you're riding in the backseat of a car with the windows down in the sun, genuinely happy. If they want to be sad and let down and bask in that feeling that’s perfectly fine as well!! I just want to help them to be inspired.
If anybody makes art or music but has a very hard time following through with their ideas, I understand this very much! When you feel like you can’t go on and every move is criminally painful and it just seems pointless, I want those people to listen to my music! I want to inspire those people!
You can listen to give the kid a smoke here courtesy of Drug Doin' Music.