Black Sabbath’s heavy metal music brought Denton musicians Bailey Chatman and Alex Gillen together during a concert. Since then, the now engaged couple has teamed up to form punk duo Heavy Pulp.
Fans of local band Pearl Earl may recognize Chatman as the group’s drummer and Gillen plays in multiple bands as well. As Heavy Pulp, the two have released the band’s first EP “Neither/Nor,” which is full of what they describe as experimental, post-punk songs.
“[Gillen and I] started traveling a lot together just as a couple and realized while we were on a particular trip to Puerto Rico that we had friends there and we could have totally played a show while we were there if we were to have had some songs worked up,” Chatman said. “We decided to form a two-piece band we could take on the road with us to any destination we go to.”
Gillen said being in a duo has been a change for both of them, as they are not “the most confident singers.”
“In our other projects, we usually just do backup vocals,” Chatman said. “In this project, we both write and share almost equal amounts of vocals while we play, so it’s a totally new kind of situation for us.”
Heavy Pulp formed more than a year ago, but Chatman said they found it difficult to play and sing simultaneously when they first started.
“I think it’s pretty easy for us for the most part,” Chatman said. “We live together and it’s easy to practice. I’d say the hardest part is finding time to play our shows and have our practices with everything else that’s happening.”
Chatman and Gillen have roots in two different musical worlds but find common ground in their love for classic rock.
“I was definitely more on the heavier side and Bailey is more on the psychedelic rock [and] indie side,” Gillen said. “This band is kind of us coming together. I have to change the way I play and she has to change the way she plays and I think it’s somewhere in between.”
Gillen earned a master’s degree in classical guitar from Texas Woman’s University and said he tries to incorporate what he has learned in Heavy Pulp’s music.
“It is disguised, but anybody who knows classical guitar might be able to hear some of that [classical guitar training],” Gillen said.
Matt Williams, 29, is a friend of the band. He met Gillen about eight years ago during a jazz class at Tarrant County College and credits Gillen with introducing him to heavier music genres. Williams has performed a song called “Landlady” with Heavy Pulp, providing what he calls “scream-singing” vocals.
“If I didn’t meet Alex, then I would never be screaming up there with him at all,” Williams said. “He really opened up the door because I was more of a jazz player when I met him.”
Chatman and Gillen share the sentiment that while education helps people discover different ways to express themselves, it is not necessary to create art.
“[Gillen is] classically trained [in music] and I’m not,” Chatman said. “I’m classically trained in painting and he’s not. I don’t think you have to go to school for painting to be a painter and I don’t think you have to get an education in music to be a successful artist at all.”
Chatman and Gillen both pursued master’s degrees because of their desires to teach.
“I’m a professor at Texas Women’s University now and [Gillen] is also pursuing private [guitar] lessons,” Chatman said. “Having a master’s degree is the only way you can really teach at a college or university.”
After the release of “Neither/Nor” earlier this month, Heavy Pulp has planned a few new releases with local labels and hopes to further their reach in the future.
“We’re moving to Los Angeles in September,” Chatman said. “We really want to start saturating that area and flying out from there to go on trips and also maybe book some tours. That’s our main goal — to travel with the band.”
You can listen to Heavy Pulp’s EP on Bandcamp and follow them on Instagram @heavy_pulp.
Featured Image: Left to right, engaged couple and musical duo Heavy Pulp’s Bailey Chatman and Alex Gillen sit on the stage at Dan’s Silverleaf. Image by: Ayron Walker.