By Heck! Going toe to toe with Toho, and living to tell the tale

Have your say

Playing as Baby Godzilla since 2012, the Nottingham noise rockers had been busy building themselves a solid reputation, based in no small part on their take-no-prisoners live shows.

But early last year, a bombshell arrived in the shape of an email – a dire warning from the Japanese film company Toho, which owns the rights to the name of the monster lizard.

Bassist Paul Shelley explains: ‘I was reading my emails, and I got this one from (online music and clothing sites) Bandcamp or Big Cartel saying that our music or our T-shirts had been taken down because of copyright issues, and I thought this must be some kind of mistake. Then we read the email they’d been forwarded about it from Toho, and my God it was scary.

‘It was super-watertight and going on about how they owned everything to do with the name and we were in some trouble.’

It turned out the film studio had attempted to contact the band before, but had used a long-since defunct email address. And when they received no reply, ramped up their efforts.

‘It was really horrible, but they were kind of nice about it in some respects, They could have taken us to the cleaners, they could have destroyed us because they could have taken all the money we’d made off the T-shirts and that kind of thing.

‘It wasn’t a lot of money, but to us it was a fortune. As soon as we get money in, we don’t split it among ourselves and go party, it goes on the van, more merch, recording.

‘We have a management and a booking agent, but apart from that we’re pretty, and I hate to use this expression, DIY.’

Now that they have emerged from the legal limbo and been rechristened Heck, the four-piece are finally able to unleash their debut album, Instructions, through their own record label NPAG Industries.

The finished half-hour album includes an epic, 16 minute three-part song.

Take our music seriously, but come to our shows and have a good laugh

Paul Shelley

‘It could be played as three separate songs, and we originally said we might, but we just love playing it all in one go. It’s a real corker, it’s hard to play, I won’t lie – a real finger tester. But it’s a little bit different, still as hectic.’

The band aren’t about to give up on the punk-rock spirit in their live shows either.

‘I think we’ve written progressively more difficult music to play, it makes it more interesting to play

‘It’s me and the drummer who make sure that there’s a foundation there, the other guys, I’ve got to give them credit, there’s more to it than just running about. They have really nailed the playing aspect of this harder material.’

And when something unusual does kick-off, Paul’s the one keeping tabs on it all. ‘Some of them go: “Did you see this happen?” Yes, I saw it all. Sometimes I am a bit of a spectator, I get to see the stupid stuff.

‘But as long as everyone’s having fun – we take ourselves seriously in some respects, but it’s got to be about having fun at the end of the day. Take our music seriously, but come to our shows and have a good laugh.’

The Joiners, Southampton

Sunday, March 20