The three people in Heavy Breathing have been playing music together since 1990, according to this interview. In the Washington City Paper a couple of weeks ago, Ian Svenonius listed the reasons that someone would wish to start a rock band. “Is it the desire to be a) “famous,” or perhaps b) sexually popular? Is it c) to write some good songs in the style of another particular group? Or perhaps is it d) to advance a particular ideological system?” He proceeds to debunk all but the last reason. “If your ambition is d), some kind of social, aesthetic, or vaguely political goal, however, the group is the ideal medium for your message. It is a covert organizational front through which you may effect real transformation of culture.”
Here is how one member describes the genesis of the group that is now Heavy Breathing: “We decided to start The Apes for 2 reasons. We knew that we could at least tolerate each other if we had to sit in a van for endless hours. Also, we knew we wanted to tour.” In addition to their shared desire to experience the life of touring rock musicians, the 3 members of this group seem to have kept going for 22 years because their primary goal is aesthetic. As evidenced by this video, they have devoted enormous creative energy to their art, with little return of a), b) (I don’t know them personally, I’m sure they do alright), or c) above.
I think that jettisoning the human singer from their project is a great step forward. A group of artists who have collaborated for so long deserve some recognition outside the small world of DC gallery goers. Or they may continue producing music and video for their own satisfaction.