Band of Heathens

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  • Band of Heathens

    This show was on Nov 17th, 2013 | 28 people watched
    1 Comment
    • Nov 18
      A gumbo of Texas twang, Delta blues, NOLA funk and Memphis soul. Authentic embassadors of Americana music. Thanks for a great show!
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Bio

AUSTIN, Texas — In the course of evolving from loose assemblage to world-class
rock ’n’ roll outfit, the Band of Heathens has built a potent body of recorded work
that’s won the Austin, Texas ensemble a fiercely loyal fan base and a reputation as
one of its hometown’s most vital musical resources. BoH is also known as one of
America’s hardest-working touring acts,... more

AUSTIN, Texas — In the course of evolving from loose assemblage to world-class
rock ’n’ roll outfit, the Band of Heathens has built a potent body of recorded work
that’s won the Austin, Texas ensemble a fiercely loyal fan base and a reputation as
one of its hometown’s most vital musical resources. BoH is also known as one of
America’s hardest-working touring acts, while revealing a musical and lyrical depth
that consistently enriches an infectious songcraft.

Sunday Morning Record, the Band of Heathens’ fourth studio album (and seventh
overall), marks a milestone in the resilient outfit’s development, capturing the
musicians’ remarkable creative chemistry along with the deepening melodic and
emotional resonance in the songwriting of founding singer-guitarists Ed Jurdi and
Gordy Quist. The 11-song set, produced by Austin studio vets and longtime BoH
collaborators George Reiff and Steve Christensen, is the product of an intense period
of change within and around the group.

“Sunday Morning Record was born in the midst of change,” agrees Quist. “Life
changes, lineup changes, geographic changes. It was a rollercoaster of a year, but
that change served the album well and became our muse.”

“We set out to make a record that chronicled the journey of the band through a
really difficult and uncertain time,” Jurdi states. “In the midst of all of this, Gordy
and I were writing songs, starting families, moving families and trying to find a
thread to hold onto with our music.”

The musicians’ journey is documented with insight, humor and empathy on such
compelling new tunes as “Shotgun,” “Caroline Williams,” “Miss My Life,” “Girl With
Indigo Eyes” and “Records in Bed,” which embody the catchy tunes and punchy
performances for which BoH is known, while showcasing the subtlety and
introspection that have become increasingly prominent in the band’s work, with an
added emphasis on the acoustic textures that have long been present in its arsenal.

“I really think that this is the most personal group of songs we’ve ever released,”
asserts Quist. “We had over 30 to choose from, and they were written while we were pondering some major life changes and digging to find the essence of what the band
is.”

Sunday Morning Record — released, like all but one of its prior albums, on the band’s
own BOH Records label — also benefits from the powerful rapport between founding
members Jurdi and Quist, longtime keyboardist Trevor Nealon, and the most recent
addition to the band, Richard Millsap on drums.

“We closed the circle smaller around us,” Jurdi notes. “We worked at George Reiff’s
house and kept the vibe as relaxed as possible. We worked fast, cutting a song a
day. We worked in the moment, creating songs during the session, changing others,
and eliminating the ones that didn’t fit.”

The qualities that make Sunday Morning Record so compelling have been built into
the Band of Heathens from its origins in 2005. It was then that Jurdi, Quist and Colin
Brooks — all of whom had already issued solo albums and were working separately
as singer-songwriters around Austin — joined forces after informally sitting in on one
another’s sets at the now-defunct West 6th Street club Momo’s. The like-minded
tunesmiths soon forged a long-term collaboration, and the aggregation became a
full-fledged rock ’n’ roll band.

The Band of Heathens’ imposing reputation as a live act was reflected in their
decision to launch their recording career with a pair of live albums, 2006’s Live From
Momo’s and 2007’s CD/DVD Live at Antone’s. 2008 saw the release of an eponymous
first studio effort, produced by iconic Texas troubadour Ray Wylie Hubbard. That
album won widespread fan approval and copious critical acclaim, as did 2009’s One
Foot in the Ether, which, like its predecessor, reached the #1 slot on the national
Americana charts. Also in 2009, the band gained substantial TV exposure,
performing live sets on PBS’ Austin City Limits and the legendary German music
show Rockpalast, as well as being honored as Best New Band at the Austin Music
Awards.

In 2011, the Band of Heathens’ third studio album, Top Hat Crown and the
Clapmaster’s Son, became the group’s most expansive and adventurous statement
to date, expanding its sound with a dose of psychedelic sensibility. That effort was
followed by the two-CD/two-DVD set The Double Down: Live in Denver, which once
again spotlighted the band’s mastery as a live unit.

Later in 2011, the Band of Heathens experienced its first major personnel shakeup,
with Brooks deciding to move on to new projects, and founding member/bassist Seth
Whitney and drummer John Chipman soon exiting as well. Jurdi and Quist
reorganized with keyboardist Trevor Nealon, a longtime friend of Gordy’s who had
joined in 2009, and new drummer Richard Millsap, who had been recommended by
his predecessor Chipman, along with a revolving assortment of bassists. The retooled
lineup proved its mettle through some diligent road-testing before getting to work on
Sunday Morning Record.

Meanwhile, other changes were afoot, with Gordy and his wife preparing for the birth
of their first child, while Ed was in the process of relocating his family to Asheville,
N.C. The longtime bandmates both agree that the finished results on Sunday
Morning Record justify the extra effort that went into the album’s creation.
“This record’s a bit on the quieter side dynamically, but I feel like it’s sharper around
the corners, both lyrically and musically,” adds Jurdi. “I think people see us as a
rock ’n’ roll band, which we are. But for us, a lot of the best stuff we’ve done is our
quieter stuff, and we did more of that on this record. The further into life you get,
the more you realize that life isn’t black and white, and that there are millions of
shades of grey in between. And as we become better songwriters and better
musicians, I think we’re better able to explore those grey areas a little more.”

Sunday Morning Record’s more intimate focus is also reflected in the album’s title,
which was inspired by a line in “Records in Bed” and nods to the value of escaping
from the noise of everyday life in order to absorb music, art and life in a more
personal and immediate way.

“It seems like it’s gotten harder and harder for people to turn off the constant
stream of information and distractions and just lose themselves in art for a little
while,” says Quist. “Now we’re connected to everything in the world at all times, and
maybe that makes our lives richer in some ways. But I think that there’s also a
richness that we miss out on, of just being present in the now and experiencing the
world directly. I hope this album moves people to turn off the noise of life for a
morning to connect with themselves and with some friends through our music.”

“I’m interested to see how these songs are received when we take them out on the
road, because I think that they may make people think differently about the band,”
Jurdi concludes. “In all of the chaos surrounding us, music has been a refuge from all
of the madness. We chronicled our trip through a strange, weird and intense time.
You can hear it all here: the joy, the heartache, the disappointment, the longing and
ultimately the resolution that this band has found to continue to make albums and
perform shows together.”

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