Photo Credit: JJ Gonson
Today, legendary 90s indie rock group Heatmiser — comprised of Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, and Brandt Peterson — have shared “Bottle Rocket (‘92 Cassette).” The release comes alongside another live video filmed during a 1993 show in Fort Collins, CO following last month’s release of “Lowlife” from the same gig. The second teaser from The Music of Heatmiser, a new, 29-song compilation of previously unheard recordings, out October 6th via Third Man Records, the track holds a deep personal meaning within the band’s story; Gust, who had come out to Smith as gay several years prior, was just starting to write songs from a perspective that was true to himself. The song thus serves as an intimate look into his struggles to openly and confidently express his identity: “I’m singing lyrics that are like a private language to myself,” says Gust, “I wish I could go back to that time and talk to my younger self and say, ‘Just be honest about who you are. Don’t be afraid.’”
The legend of Heatmiser has only grown in the last several decades since the Portland rock greats released what would end up being their final album, 1996’s Mic City Sons. Now, The Music of Heatmiser provides a new and unique opportunity to hear the quartet at their most elemental: ferocious and passionate, with miles of melody and a shocking immediacy for a band that was still in the embryonic stages.
This compilation spans the group’s earliest years, including a tour-only demos cassette from 1992 (which also shares this compilation’s namesake), a previously lost-to-time session at Portland radio station KBOO, and a wealth of previously unreleased material that showcases Heatmiser’s true essence as a band — like the group’s previously unreleased cover of the Beatles’ “Revolution,” recorded for and rejected by an ad agency but fully restored here in revelatory fashion thanks to Lash’s work excavating and re-mixing the bulk of the music found here.
“I’ve really enjoyed revisiting this music for the music. It’s great to remember the times that we worked together very well, and how that reflects in the music itself,” Peterson says. “When Elliott became Elliott Smith, Heatmiser immediately got eclipsed by that—so we all left it behind,” Gust adds, “...but when Tony started sending me these recordings, I remembered how fun this was, and how much we loved it. It’s loud and ferocious, and what we were doing back then is what I still look for in music today.” Longtime fans will doubtlessly be delighted by the treasure trove on display here—and newcomers now have the perfect entry point for discovering this cultishly beloved band’s catalog.
The Music of Heatmiser Album Art
Special Indie Store Colored Vinyl