What: Object Heavy, with Maxwell Friedman Group

When: 9 p.m. Friday, doors open at 8:30 p.m.

Where: Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Drive, Bend

Cost: $12 plus fees in advance

Contact: volcanictheatre.com or 541-323-1881

Brian Swislow never expected Object Heavy to take off in the way it has.

When the Arcata, California, keyboardist co-founded the soul-funk-R&B band roughly four years ago with original drummer Pete Ciotti, it was another in a long line of projects, including the Afrobeat-inspired AfroMassive and hip-hop collective Humboldt County Freestyle Kings. Object Heavy started as The Get Down Crew, serving as the house band for the sporadic jam nights hosted at The Jam in Arcata.

“We didn’t even really have a direction or a vision to tour,” Swislow said recently from home. “We were the house band for a jam night, and it was the bassist and guitarist and the drummer and myself. We started this group and started recording, and then along the way — right away, we were offered a couple of gigs locally opening for some bigger groups.”

Amidst lineup changes, the group changed its name and released a self-titled album in 2015. Since then, it has served as a fill-in backing band for rappers Chali 2na and Raashan Ahmad, as well as Blues Traveler frontman John Popper, and opened for heavyweights such as George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

But while that might seem like a (relative) overnight success, for Swislow, it was the product of years of cross-pollination from his bands and other business ventures.

“For me, playing with different groups over the years, we’ve crossed paths with all of these different people in different forms,” he said. “I also owned a nightclub in Eureka (California) for a while, which some of the bigger bands came through. And I own a clothing line called Fatbol Clothing, and we specifically are artists who support artists and musicians supporting musicians, and we sponsor some of those artists — Chali 2na, DJ Logic, a few others. And between all of that mixing pot, you put all that together and then these guys hear that I have a group … and say, ‘Hey, let’s do something together.’”

Of course, heavy touring also played a part in that success, as did Bend, which has been a regular stop (often multiple times per year) since Object Heavy’s earliest days. The group last played the Domino Room in February opening for Turkuaz, and returns to headline Volcanic Theatre Pub on Friday.

Other than the usual reasons bands give for returning to Central Oregon — Swislow cited the vibrant music scene and atmosphere specifically — Object Heavy has a personal connection to the Maxwell Friedman Group, which will open the Volcanic show. That band’s guitarist, Gabe Johnson, regularly books Object Heavy through Parallel 44 Presents, but Swislow also has ties to 15-year-old Hammond organist Friedman, who is the nephew of a former bandmate of Swislow’s, Adam Brant. Object Heavy ended up playing Friedman’s bar mitzvah, Swislow said.

“When I realized who he was and who his uncle was, it was an instant family moment for all of us,” Swislow said. “He ended up sitting in at his own party playing (with us).”

Object Heavy debuted its latest lineup — featuring new vocalist Richard Love and new drummer Thatcher Norton alongside Swislow, guitarist Leo Plummer and bassist Ian Taylor — at McMenamins Old St. Francis School’s Halloween celebration last year. That lineup is working with producer Kelly Finnigan (Monophonics) on a second studio album, following the self-titled effort and an EP, “Transitions,” released last year.

“‘Transitions’ was basically an ode to everyone who was part of Object Heavy from the beginning,” Swislow said. “… That’s why there’s so many features — Raashan Ahmad and John Popper’s on there, and Fred Wesley (trombonist with James Brown and Parliament Funkadelic). These are just different people we’ve crossed paths with and ended up touring with or backing as their band for a few shows. So we thought that was the transition, and then very shortly into the recording, Jonny (Woods), our old singer’s girlfriend was pregnant, and then Pete had to be at home more. So really, it was the beginning of the transition.”

Norton and Love — whom Swislow described as a “super heavy, deep soul singer” — have pushed the group to further evolve its sound, Swislow said. The continued turnover has also decreased the average age of the band (Swislow, 48, is the oldest member of the group, and the only original member).

“It was just a local scene (in Arcata), just like Bend: There’s a college scene, and there’s groups that form, and they break up when kids leave school or whatever happens when people move on,” Swislow said. “With this group, I think, the young guys who are around kept coming out. Now, Thatcher and Leo and Ian are phenomenal musicians; they’re badasses. I sit there wondering how this all happened.”

23021402