Though known mostly for country music royalty—the likes of Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash—Nashville has a flourishing indie-rock scene that along with the neighborhood streets, the hills, and woods—make a perfect place for Heypenny to create their world of indie-pop-fun-rock.
Four years ago, Ben Elkins lived about 150 miles south of Nashville in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He experimented with sounds and spaces and new ways of writing songs. Through these efforts, Heypenny was born and an album called Use These Spoons was completed and Elkins relocated to Nashville, TN, recruiting DJ Murphy on bass and Aaron Distler on drums.
Although it was never fully distributed, Use These Spoons made waves in the blogosphere and garnered accolades throughout the region/country/Western hemisphere for its pop-infused balance of rhythm, harmony, and DIY brilliance, ultimately selling out of all their pressings.
What started out as a quiet, solitary and patient endeavor has over the last year erupted into a staccato-rock band that finds company with contemporaries, while channeling the pop-appeal of Michael Jackson, and the naiveté of Sesame Street.
Fresh off a stint opening for pop superstar, Ke$ha, playing for 2000+ at the Florida Music Festival, playing Bonnaroo in 2009 and headlinging Next Big Nashville for a capacity crowd, the band has honed and perfected their craft, rapidly building their profile and fanbase, inking them as a must see live show.
Whether they are pushing through capacity crowds with marching bands in tow, having artists paint 8’x5′ renderings of the pages from their CopCar Coloring Book EP during their show, or playing a surprise set in the middle of the crowd with an upright piano, string quartet and horn section, blanketing the audience in a hundred feet of white Christmas lights, it’s no secret that they think big and deliver.
It’s the attention to detail—custom, hand-made marching band uniforms to the old-fashioned, big-knobbed, wood-paneled television sets that bathe the audience in abstract colors, flashing and pulsing with the songs—that gives the audience an actual show.
Graham Hawthorne, drummer for David Byrne emailed the band after their Bonnaroo performance and said that he happily stumbled onto the set and that it was perhaps “the best thing he saw at the festival.” It’s little things like that, going in as the underdog and winning the hearts, minds and ears of strangers that keeps them going and make them pour everything they have into perfecting their craft and giving their fans something memorable.