Over the past year, Florida’s The Heavy Pets have been busy in the studio, and the group is gearing up to release their latest full-length album, Strawberry Mansion, on February 23rd. The new album—which will be released independently with some help from All Points Boats and APB Studios—marks The Heavy Pets’ first full-length studio album since 2011’s Swim Out Past The Sun, though the band has released some EPs during that seven-year period. Strawberry Mansion will be available on major streaming sites and for purchase in double vinyl, CD, and digital formats.

It’s clear that the buzz around the group’s new album is growing, and given the group’s feel-good new tunes, it’s clear why. Strawberry Mansion‘s opening track, “Higher”, is a delightfully funky song with an island and some ska-like leanings. Plus, the group recently debuted the 70’s street-funk number, “Shahryar’s Rage”, and the track has over 100,000+ listens in just a couple of short weeks.

Read on below to hear The Heavy Pets’ own Jeff Lloyd’s thoughts on the upcoming Strawberry Mansion, plus check out the group’s newly announced tour dates, including an album release party at Fort Lauderdale’s Culture Room on Friday, February 23rd, and an opening gig for Umphrey’s McGee at Whigfest Music & Arts Festival in Tampa, on February 18th.

The Heavy Pets’ guitarists and vocalists, Jeff Lloyd and Mike Garulli, are no strangers to throwing an epic party. Most recently, the band hosted a three-set Festival After Party at Boca Raton’s The Funky Biscuit, which featured a second set that saw sit-ins from the likes of Eric Krasno, MonoNeon, DJ Logic, Tedeschi Trucks Band saxophonist Kebbi Williams, and trumpeter Ephraim Owens, highlighting how much respect the Pets have garnered in the greater jam and funk scene.

The Heavy Pets With Eric Krasno, DJ Logic, MonoNeon, & The Tedeschi Trucks Band Horns – “Between The Sheets > Dewpoint”

[via CHeeSeHeaDPRoDuCTioNS]

We had the opportunity to speak with The Heavy Pets’ lead guitarist and vocalist, Jeff Lloyd, to discuss the inspiration behind the new album, the album’s special guest collaborators, and more. Check it out below! 

L4LM: This is the band’s first full album since 2011’s Swim Out Past The Sun. Did it feel good to get back in the studio and make some new music?

Jeff Lloyd: It felt fantastic. We focused on a series of EPs over the last few years and felt it was time to get back in and produce a full-length record. We had a ton of material ready to go, so we felt it was time again to make a longer statement. I think we really found a process that works for us—recording at a variety of South Florida studios including our own, and finishing everything at the Power Station, where we have done the bulk of our work the last few years.

L4LM: I’m assuming that’s a guest vocalist on “Shahryar’s Rage”. Who are the special guests on the album?

JL: Actually, no. That’s our very own Jim Wuest singing lead on “Shahryar’s Rage”, with the rest of us singing some pretty rich harmonies in the back. It’s a cool sound and very uniquely Jim. We do have some South Florida friends we are proud to have on the record, including Michael McCleary (guitarist of Surfer Blood) on trombone and Rob Smiley on saxophone for the closing track “Holy Holy.”

L4LM: Is that you or Mike playing slide on “The Ibis”? Sounds very Derek Trucks-inspired. Totally digging it. 

JL: That’s our dear friend, the one-and-only Roosevelt Collier! Ha, I wish I could play like that. He absolutely slayed that track—took my vision to a whole different level—but this should come as no surprise to me after working with him for so many years. That’s what he does. I absolutely love the parts he laid down, and the back and forth he does with Jim on the Hammond for the solo section.

L4LM: What was some inspirations for the music y’all wrote on the album? 

JL: “The Ibis” was literally inspired by me waking to a yard full of birds one morning and doing a little research. Fascinating creatures. “Real News” I’d written years ago and thought pretty apt for today. There is so much going on on this record, and it is taking me back to our beginnings—a group of friends with a big group of songs. I still feel we are just getting started.

The Heavy Pets will celebrate the release of Strawberry Mansion with a proper album release party at Fort Lauderdale’s Culture Room on Friday, February 23rd (get tickets here). In support of the new album, The Heavy Pets will head out on the road for an extensive run of headlining dates with support from acts such as Goose, The Clock Reads, and The Steady Flow. Additional shows include appearances at Fractal Beach Music Festival at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park in Miami on February 4th and opening for Umphrey’s McGee at Whigfest Music & Arts Festival in Tampa on February 18th. Take a listen to “Higher”, and check out a full list of tour dates below.

The Heavy Pets Tour Dates
FEB 17 – Jacksonville, FL – 1904 Music Hall
FEB 18 – Tampa, FL – Whigfest*
FEB 23 – Fort Lauderdale, FL – Culture Room
MAR 01 – Charlotte, NC – The Rabbit Hole
MAR 02 – Asheville, NC – Funkatorium, Wicked Weed Brewing
MAR 03 – Savannah, GA – Barrelhouse South
MAR 08 – Fort Collins, CO – Hodi’s Half Note**
MAR 09 – Denver, CO – Be On Key
MAR 10 – Denver, CO – Be On Key
MAR 21 – Jupiter, FL – Guanabanas
MAR 22 – Dunedin, FL – Spring Beer Jam, Dunedin Brewery
MAR 23 – Key West, FL – Smokin’ Tuna
MAR 24 – Key West, FL – Smokin’ Tuna
MAR 25 – Key West, FL – Green Parrot
APR 07 – Davie, FL – David Posnack Jewish Community Center, Orlove Auditorium
APR 14 – Fort Pierce, FL – Sailfish Street Party
APR 25 – Washington, DC – Pearl Street Warehouse
APR 26 – Philadelphia, PA – Milkboy***
APR 27 – Providence, RI – Fete Lounge
APR 28 – New Haven, CT – Pacific Standard Tavern
APR 29 – Allston, MA – Wonder Bar
MAY 02 – Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory
MAY 03 – Manchester, NH – Jewel Music Venue****
MAY 04 – Norwalk, CT – Wall Street Theater****
MAY 05 – Albany, NY – The Hollow****
JUN 06 – Arcata, CA – Humboldt Brews
JUN 07 – Nevada City, CA – Crazy Horse Saloon
JUN 08 – San Francisco, CA – Boom Boom Room

* supporting Umphrey’s McGee
** w/ The Steady Flow
*** w/ The Clock Reads
**** w/ Goose