While they may be known for their blazing hot grooves, Indianapolis band 800 lb. Gorilla insists they are far more than a “jam band.”
“We get the tendency as a group to sometimes get shoved into this ‘jam band’ corner,” says keyboardist/vocalist Andy Greenwell. “No hate to jam bands across the nation or anything, but we want to make stuff that’s a little more for everybody because jam bands kind of come with a stereotype.”
This being said, 800 lb. Gorilla aimed to have their latest album, Metro Manila, serve as a defining statement.
“We wanted to make something that was a little more appealing to everybody, while still showing off what we can do,” Greenwell says. “I think we really nailed it with Metro Manila. I think it’s hot.”
On Saturday, Dec. 21, 800 lb. Gorilla will celebrate the release of Metro Manila with an album release show at Hi-Fi, receiving opening support from Illinois funk band Steady Flow. After recording their previous two full-lengths at Indy’s much-loved Azmyth Recording Studios, the band decided to switch it up on Metro Manila, instead teaming up with local sound engineer extraordinaire Wes Heaton.
Originally started by brothers Dan and Mark Humphrey, 800 lb. Gorilla was a pretty straightforward rock band early on.
“We got really in with the biker community,” says guitarist/lead vocalist Mark Humphrey, laughing. “They loved us because we were little kids but we shredded all this rock.”
After adding former drummer Brian Carson into the mix, 800 lb. Gorilla eventually linked up with current keyboardist/saxophonist Kwame Newton, who shifted the band’s trajectory.
“He [Brian Carson] introduced us to Kwame, and that’s when we really started exploring what we could do musically,” Humphrey says. “The funk and the jazz came from that.”
Today, 800 lb. Gorilla is made up of three core members in Andy Greenwell, Kwame Newton, and Mark Humphrey, with a few different drummers rotating in and out.
“The three of us are a deadly combination writing-wise,” Humphrey says of the core trio. “We play with Byron Boler a fair amount. We also play with Colin Oakley depending on where schedules align.”
In reflecting on their current sound, 800 lb. Gorilla believes they have something special to offer Indy music fans.
“I feel like the Fountain Square vibe hits indie people, and downtown it’s more hip-hop and EDM. Then on the north-side, there’s the neo-soul thing,” Greenwell says. “I think we combine all of those elements together, and then hit it really hard.”