Spotlight: Amplified Heat

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Spotlight: Amplified Heat
Photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Anyone who's ever witnessed Amplified Heat ignite live knows the Ortiz brothers never back down from confrontation. On the contrary, the Austin trio's skuzzy blues hearken back to a time when rock & roll was still something to fear. Vocalist Jim has the switchblade conviction of a Folsom Prison heavyweight and the guitar snarl of Mick Mars, while Chris comes unhinged behind the drum kit, thrashing like a Tasmanian devil.

"We're relentless," agrees bassist and youngest sibling Gian. "We go out there and just shove it in people's face. We bring on the boogie."

Fall 2005 brought a different kind of boogie when the brothers were involved in a street altercation that resulted in the hospitalization of Gian and Chris, who suffered multiple stab wounds. "We thought we were being punched the whole time," winces Gian in recollection. "The guy had a blade. He left Chris covered in blood from head to toe."

Being laid up inadvertently resulted in the trio reissuing their blistering, self-titled debut EP, and also sparked a creative fuse for the group. Last year's How Do You Like the Sound of That (Arclight) is a confrontational collection of Bo Diddley shuffles and Albert King-style blues filtered through the psychedelic heaviness of Blue Cheer.

"We felt reinvigorated," Gian says. "We wanted to show people that nothing was going to set us back or stop us from what we wanted to do."

In some ways, the Ortiz brothers were destined to become a power trio.

"In California there was a radio station that would play a classic rock record each weekend," Gian recalls. "Our parents wouldn't buy us records or anything like that, so we taped Cream's Disraeli Gears. When they weren't home, we'd pretend to be playing along with the tape over and over again. We had this plastic blue guitar with nylon strings and a toy drum set and we would listen to the album over and over again and imagine how all of the sounds should be played. That's where it all really started for us."

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