News & Updates





- We are taking By Grand Central Station to the theatre. Dance has always been close to the heart of this project (see our videos); now we are bringing the medium to our live show. Winnipeg talents Carol-Ann Bohrn and Alexandra Garrido take centre stage to interpret our songs in this new work, supported by our eight-person ensemble. The world première of By Grand Central Station will be presented by Prairie Theatre Exchange March 11-29, 2020 as part of their mainstage season. Get tickets HERE.

- “A midwinter gem.” – Winnipeg Free Press
- “Sensitive and shimmering, the disc is a triumph of quiet, confident strength.” – Globe and Mail
- “It’s an absolute wonder to behold.” – Paste
- “In an album full of thoughtful, evocative arrangements, the stand-out has to be “Certainly,” a song that starts out like a Philip Glass track, pivots into a brief splash of indie rock, and then spins into a dizzying round, Peters’ and Keenan’s voices lapping over one another. It’s brilliant, intoxicating and unsettling — a perfect tribute to Smart’s beautifully complicated By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.” – CBC Music



Seven-date Canadian tour starts tomorrow with hometown show in Winninpeg.  

Heavy Bell celebrates the release of By Grand Central Station with a new video for “Water of Love,” shared today via Exclaim. Directed by Sarah Constible and featuring Johanna Riley of Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, the video scales down the oceanic nausea of love to a familiar domestic setting, the bathtub.


Watch Heavy Bell's new video for "Water of Love" here. 

The delicacy and brutality of the lyrics, adapted from the novel By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, is a disharmony that permeates both works. “I float away in a flood of love,” sing Heavy Bell members Matt Peters (Royal Canoe) and Tom Keenan, as the water starts to lift Riley’s hair, then slowly closes around her face. Constible also directed the video for “Certainly,” which announced the album at the end of 2017.
In By Grand Central Station, Heavy Bell explores the novel’s intimate spaces of overlap, particularly between ecstasy and misery, in musical terms. The album is arranged for chamber ensemble and featuring nine guest vocalists who add choral rounds to piano and muted horns, acoustic guitars and orchestral elements. By Grand Central Station is Heavy Bell's debut, although Keenan and Peters  have previously collaborated on award-winning theatre adaptations and other projects. Described as “avant chamber pop” (CBC Music), the project reflects the novel’s own tension between classical references and modernist form.
By Grand Central Station is out today.

WINNIPEG, MB: WECC, Jan 13 w/ Christine Fellows
SASKATOON, SK: Jan 19, Cosmo Hall, Winterruption 2018
EDMONTON, AB: The Almanac, Jan 20
MONTREAL, QC: Casa Del Popolo, Feb 2
OTTAWA, ON: Pressed Café, Feb 3
TORONTO, ON: Burdock Music Hall, Feb 4
CALGARY, AB: Feb 16, Studio Bell Block Heater Festival




By Grand Central Station adapts influential CanLit novel to song. Album features members of Royal Canoe, Begonia, Imaginary Cities and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
Heavy Bell shares video for “
Certainly” today. Canadian tour dates announced.

Inspiration works in mysterious ways. For two members of Winnipeg’s arts community – one an indie rocker and lead vocalist in tilt pop outfit Royal Canoe, the other appearing regularly on theatre stages across Canada – were looking for a piece of writing to channel into song. What Matt Peters and Tom Keenan found was a piece of writing that has, since its publication in 1945, come to be recognized as “one of the half-dozen masterpieces of poetic prose in the world,” a novel bought and burned by the author's mother: By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.

As Heavy Bell, Matt Peters and Tom Keenan have added new layers to the literary legacy. The lyrics in Heavy Bell’s songs are sourced primarily from the novel, either as full passages or impressionistic collages of moments stitched into verses. "Sometime in the winter of 2009, Tom and I sat by the piano in his house on Maryland Avenue in Winnipeg with a copy of By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept," says Peters. "It was unlike anything I had read. The intensity of her experience and the vivid, lyrical language made the songwriting feel somewhat inevitable."

“We let the flow of the words dictate the form of the songs, rather than adhering to standard structures,” Keenan adds. “The story is told through emotion rather than action: her inner world is enormous, tempestuous. It takes over the world around her and tosses her like a boat on the sea.”

The precise geometry of a multitude of voices in perpetual canon dissolves into string-accented tidal swirls on “Water of Love,” one of the album’s standout tracks. With its acoustic guitar and muted brass softening the blow of self-revelation, the song “Phoenix of Love” is velvet melancholy, and recalls Midlake or Elliott Smith.
“Only For Myself,” one of the album’s piano-driven pieces, rises and ebbs behind lyrics “I die again and again.” The song is one of Heavy Bell’s more intricate choral offerings, and aligns the band with a number of indie artists who work orchestral realms, including Sufjan Stevens and Darlingside.

By Grand Central Station, the album, also features author Elizabeth Smart’s own voice, songs “The Pain Was Unbearable” and “I Am Not The Ease” feature the author reading from the novel on CBC’s long-running flagship radio program Morningside, recorded in 1982.

Today, Heavy Bell shares a video piece for the song Certainly,” a soaring, string-spun song with an unflinching rewriting of the resurrection: “To rise again from such slaughter Messiah must indeed become a woman.” The video tells its own story about coincidence and artistic cross-pollination. Around the same time that Keenan and Peters were adapting the novel to song, they discovered another project based on the book was in the works in their own backyard, a modern dance piece based on Smart’s life by Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers. Director Sarah Constible transformed performance footage from the show, called 97 Positions of the Heart, into a visual companion to the song. “It is not a typical music video,” says Keenan. “It reminds me of the mid-century experimental films of Norman McLaren, with its transformation of the human form into something abstract, to great emotional effect.”

"Certainly" will be available digitally on Friday, November 17, 2017

By Grand Central Station will be released January 12, 2018