Band of Heathens will invade the Star Bar
March 25, 2011
The Band of Heathens formed in 2006 at Momo’s, a nightclub in Austin, Texas.
Guitarist Gordy Quist said the band’s core songwriters Quist, Colin Brooks and Ed Jurdi came together out of convenience.
"We were all fronting our own bands and we were always booked the same Wednesday nights," Quist told The Park Record from a phone call from his home in Austin. "That morphed into all of us sitting in with each other when we needed extra musicians, because we felt since we were all going to be playing that night, we might as well do that, rather than hire other people."
The merger also proved beneficial to the nightclub and its patrons.
"Instead of five to six hours of music by different bands, we were able condense things into a single two-and-a-half-hour set," Quist said with a laugh.
A few months later, the band’s potential hit the musicians while they rehearsed some harmonies.
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"We sat down one day to work on an old Leadbelly prison-work song called ‘Ain’t No More Cane on the Brazos,’" Quist said. "As we hit the notes, all of us looked around and realized although we came from all these different bands, and we were all front men, the sound we heard was us as a group working together."
Although the band members have spent hours on the road, rehearsing and playing together, they manage to maintain their loose and unrehearsed trademark spirit and image.
They still say they had no intention of going on tour after they solidified the line-up. In fact, the sole purpose the band recorded its first album. "Live at Momo’s," in 2006, was to capture one of the Wednesday-night gigs, said Quist, who cited the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Guy Clark and Townes van Zandt as some of his musical influences..
"There were no plans to tour or anything," he said. "We just wanted some kind of documentation of what we were doing at that time."
Six years and albums later, the Band of Heathens thrive on playing live music loose and unrehearsed.
Only the recording process has changed.
The new CD "Top Hat Crown & Clapmaster’s Son," which will be released March 29 and features former Park City resident Trevor Nealon on keyboards, was recorded in the most organized way to date, said Quist.
"We tried not to play the songs live before we went into the studio, because we wanted them to be fresh and not have any preconceived ideas of what our parts should be," he said. "In contrast, the songs on all of our other CDs were road tested and perfected before we recorded them."
To help with song arrangements for the new CD, the band recruited producer George Reiff, who has worked with the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson and Ray Wylie Hubbard.
"Originally we wanted to try out different producers by recording three different extended plays," Quist said. "We booked time in the studio with George and did three songs. When we came back to them, we liked what we did. So we scrapped the EP ideas and called George to do a whole record."
Adding Reiff into the creative mix helped the band look at the music in different ways.
"When George heard the songs, he sat down and gave us options on how we could approach the arrangements," Quist said. "Many times it was different than how we would have done them, had we been producing the album ourselves. Sometimes we did it the way he wanted, and sometimes we would do it the way we wanted. But having another creative force in the studio helped broaden our views."
Quist also said he is amazed at how cohesive each of the band’s albums has sounded because of the looseness within the band.
"All of our albums are different," he said. "When we start working on a project, there are a lot of different ideas floating around. We always have something like 25 different songs that may or may not complement each other because the same person didn’t write them.
"When I write songs, I hope my songs transcend the band and my solo works and are not constrained by those two things."
The Band of Heathens will play at the Star Bar, 268 Main Street, on Thursday, March 31, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. For more information call (435) 615-7588 or visit http://www.ticketcake.com.