Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ The Head and the Heart

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The Head and the Heart
Photo by Curtis Wave Millard

Washington’s The Head and the Heart are an indie folk group who formed in the summer of 2009. Since then, the sextet have released their debut album The Head and the Heart (2011) and their sophomore record Let’s Be Still (2013). Ahead of their Toronto show at the Kool Haus on the 30th, A Music Blog, Yea? had the opportunity of speaking with The Head and the Heart’s frontman Josiah Johnson! We spoke about their new video for Another Story, evolving as a band, songs he’ll always love, and dance parties. Here’s what he had to say:

AMBY: You soon kick off your Canadian Tour, which begins March 27th. What do you look forward to most regarding being on the road?

The Head and the Heart: A lot of the places that we’re going aren’t places that we play a lot. We play a lot in Toronto and Montreal because we can route those on state tours pretty easily, but I’m excited to go to places I haven’t seen. Also, I’m actually dating someone who lives in Toronto so I’m excited to be in Toronto [laughs] since I’m in their town and it’s a great city.

AMBY: As far as being on tour goes, what does the band do for fun – are you sightseers, food and restaurant lovers?

The Head and the Heart: That totally depends on the band member, but I kind of like wandering around and just seeing what the city looks like on foot. It kind of depends which neighbourhood the venue is in, but just wandering around seeing places, storefronts, and the people.

AMBY: Seeing what each place has to offer, alright. What is one of your most memorable touring experiences?

The Head and the Heart: Most memorable touring experiences usually don’t have to do with the place you are at, they’re often because you’re touring with bands that you really get along with or friends’ bands and making new friends. It’s just kind of cool to have that experience and travel around with people that you love.

AMBY: Last question on the touring front, are there any crazy or bizarre tour stories the band has encountered?

The Head and the Heart: Not any more than any normal person has that involved hanging out, and drinking, and getting into trouble…

AMBY: [laughs] I see.

The Head and the Heart: I wouldn’t say there’s anything specific. It’s a pretty crazy thing to be at a level where you become friends with people in bands and the people we admire. That’s crazy to me. Other than that, I don’t really know [laughs].

AMBY: No problem at all, that works. Now, onto the music: you recently released a video for your song Another Story. What inspired the music video and taking a more vintage route with the images and clothing?

The Head and the Heart: I think it was just an idea that Jon had which was a way to illustrate how you come back and how you live with a tragedy. That idea of two friends and their friendship where one of their lives was cut short by accident, I think that the images in it were pretty powerful. Jon actually developed the storyline without anyone else in the band; he was kind of like, “guys, I think I’ve got this!” I’m so glad for Jon that he got the opportunity to do that, because it’s not something we’ve had the opportunity of doing before.

AMBY: When I watched it for the first time, it felt so real with the little touches of the vintage cameras, bikes, and I can’t forget to mention the high-waisted paints.

The Head and the Heart: [laughs]

AMBY: But I wasn’t expected such a sad twist by the middle. So, after watching the video, what exactly do you feel was the main point you wanted viewers and fans to receive?

The Head and the Heart: I don’t know if it was meant to have a point, but it was more so an illustration.

AMBY: Okay, on what?

The Head and the Heart: More so about experiences that people have had from loss and experiences in their lives. I don’t know if there is a point other than tragedy happens and life goes on. You can continue living and no matter how down you might feel at some point, you will live and you will love and get beyond that.

AMBY: It’s an “there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel” scenario, that’s what I got out of it after watching for the first time.

The Head and the Heart: Yea.

AMBY: Moving onto your first record, your debut self-titled album was released in April of 2011. How do you feel you’ve evolved as a band since its release?

The Head and the Heart: Starting in your room writing and envisioning how music will work in front of thousands and thousands of people… There’s a definite expansion of the songs and I think a cool thing about the second record is how the arrangements take advantage of that – the bigness and the space. The first record is very immediate and we wrote those songs when we were playing to 50 people. I feel the sound and the arrangements fill up a lot more space.

AMBY: With that second album released last year, what’s next as far as recoding goes?

The Head and the Heart: There aren’t any plans… as of yet. We’ll be touring until the end of this year and then probably take a little more of a break to give people space to breath, work on their own individual projects, focus on relationships. But probably sometime next year we’ll start beginning to write and arrange songs, but there’s no specific timeline at this point.

AMBY: Alright. Well, I wanted to say how that debut record still sounds so fresh to me. A funny story, actually, is that when I got my first laptop I intended on dragging a full library of music onto my computer. However, I only ended up dragging an MP3 of Rivers and Roads onto my desktop.

The Head and the Heart: [laughs] Yes.

AMBY: For a couple months, every time I worked on my computer I heard Rivers and Roads and would try to sing my heart out to those harmonies! I just find it amazing how one song can resonate so well. With all of that said, is there one song for you that always hits the spot, one you feel you’ll never tire of?

The Head and the Heart: Probably Down In The Valley, that was always my favourite song on that first record and it still feels so good to play every time we play it live.

AMBY: Moving onto a less serious questions, who have you been listening to lately?

The Head and the Heart: This band The Weather Station who is actually a Canadian band, well, singer-songwriter. That record is great and very Bob Dylan with really great lyrics. I listen to a ton of rap music, too. I’ve gotten back in Wilco lately. And the new Arcade Fire record, I didn’t like it when it first came out and finally I feel like I got it.

AMBY: Awesome. Now we’re at the last question of the interview: what’s something about The Head and the Heart that most people don’t know?

The Head and the Heart: Oh geez. I feel like I should have gotten notice about this question.

AMBY: [laughs] Sorry about that!

The Head and the Heart: So I could have came up with an interesting answer… Uhm. Our post show routine pretty much consists of us having a dance party on the bus.

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Thank you The Head and the Heart, for giving us your answers!

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Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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