Monday, June 4, 2012 , Updated 9:55 a.m., June 7, 2012
Concert preview: The Head and the Heart skyrockets after debut album
The Seattle natives have burst onto the scene with just one album and a happy-go-lucky attitude.
DALLAS Seattle folkers The Head and the Heart are headed to the Granada Theater to play a sold-out show on June 7. The fun-loving group came together through open mic nights and chance meetings. They got their start by self-recording and booking shows through word-of-mouth in Washington. By the time local record stores couldn’t keep their debut album in stock, they had caught the eye of many major labels and decided on Sub Pop.
Today, they’re busy traveling the country and sharing their infectiously cheerful folk songs to sold out crowds. We caught up with drummer Tyler Williams just as they arrived at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Golden, Colorado, to discuss everything from pizza parties to new material.
Pegasus News: The way the band came together is pretty incredible, kind of sounds like fate. Do you see it that way?
Tyler Williams: I think we definitely kind of have a sense of purpose based out of that. We all wanted to play music and we all found each other, and it kind of just worked out the way it did. I think a lot of people have similar things happen to them, but for some reason we were just able to do something bigger and to move beyond Seattle. I don’t really know what to call it … yeah fate’s a good word for it, I guess.
I see that a lot of the upcoming dates on your tour are sold out. Is that a common occurrence or is it a big deal for you guys?
- Granada Theater
3524 Greenville Avenue
- Age limit: 14+
It seems like we always try to book our shows a little bit higher than what we thought we could comfortably sell out, but even when we were first starting out, we were playing 350 cap rooms and they were selling out. So the next tour, we bumped it to some that were a little out of our reach and they started selling out too. Now I feel like we’re doing that again. It’s kind of cool to see that progression happen.
Your shows have a strong reputation. What is it about your live shows that you think people really connect to?
I think we just kind of have fun on stage – we each have this chemistry with each other that kind of makes it feel like something is happening between the six of us. We’re not just playing these songs – we’re actually experiencing them again, every night for the first time. It creates this weird call-and-response from the crowd, where we give our all and then it seems like the crowd usually gives back, which is definitely nice.
I just read this review of our show at the Sasquatch music festival, and it was saying that these songs on our last record were built for audience participation – for sing alongs and just getting people into it. I think that the inherent nature of the songs we wrote just lends itself towards that.
When you started, you guys were really into the grassroots approach as far as how you released your album. I read that you prefer to play smaller venues rather than giant ones. Does the band still focus on that?
There always comes a time in a bands’ life where you have to make the decision to step up to the larger crowds and try to make that work (because it is a different experience), or just sit there and do the same thing. I feel like the grassroots support that we had early on was amazing to get us to the point where we could make that decision. I don’t think anyone in this band has really given it that much thought, I think it’s just a natural thing to play for more and more people every night.
But, that being said, we’ve always been good about playing weird, one-off shows wherever we could find them, even after playing a show the same night. For example, after playing Boise we did this acoustic set at a pizza place. We always try out different avenues to reach people.
What’s the craziest place you’ve played?
It’s funny how many times pizza comes up in our beginnings … um we played this pizza party called “Pizza Power” in Lawrence, Kansas. It was just a bunch of kids that had a pizza party. They sent us a Facebook message that said that they wanted us to come play this pizza party, so we were like “Yeah, we’ll do it!” So we’re routing shows all the way down there and played this pizza party. We thought it would be fun and would be a way to reach new people.
It was kind of crazy because we parked our van at the pizza party and this guy comes out and says, “Are you guys The Head and the Heart?” We said yes, and he said, “I’ve been listening to you guys for months – what are you doing in my neighborhood?!” So he ended up booking us for his classroom session thing. It was one of the first sessions that they did and now they’ve hosted Damien Jurado and The Civil Wars. I feel like that was a little bit of serendipity or something.
What’s the writing process like for a six-member band?
It’s pretty democratic. It usually seems like Jon [Russell] or Josiah [Johnson] will come up with either a part of a song or most of a song, and they’ll bring it to us and we’ll arrange it and put everything in its right place. It also seems like whoever wrote the lyrics will sing them. Nobody ever dictates who sings who’s lyrics; everyone has their own rights to their stuff.
Are you working on a sophomore release?
Oh ya, we’re talking right now about where we want to record it, who we want to produce it, and whom we want to work with. We have about 12 unfinished songs at this point. We’re hoping to go in in January and have 20 songs done. It’s looking good.
What’s one of your favorite experiences as a band thus far?
I think we would all agree that Sasquatch (which was two nights ago) was amazing. That’s the music festival in Washington state. We had not played Seattle in about six months, so coming back to Washington state and having all of our friends there – I think there was like 15,000+ people watching us play our set as the sun was going down. It was amazing.
And then tonight, we’re playing the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Golden, Colorado, which is something I would cross off my list of things to do before I die.
The Head and the Heart — “Down In The Valley”
Your videos are so quirky and you never know what to expect. What’s the concept behind them?
We usually work with Ryan McMackin, who is a good friend of ours (we’ve all lived with him at one point or another). He’s done most of our videos, except “Lost in My Mind.” He brings a lot of ideas to the plate and we bounce them around. Chris does a really good job of working on that with him too. I think Ryan is a big part of those videos, but he just moved to Sweden, so I’m not sure how that’s going to go.
Check out The Head and the Heart June 7 at the Granada.
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