by Jeff Niesel
Before the guys in Austin’s Band of Heathens began recording their new album, Sunday Morning Record, they went some changes that made them wonder if the band might break-up.
“There was some uncertainty about what we were going to do when some of the guys left the band,” says singer-guitarist Gordy Quist via cell phone as he drives the band’s van to a Nashville tour stop. “But we knew we had more to say.”
So he and singer-guitarist Ed Jurdi put together a new rhythm section and hit the road. Their current tour brings them to the Beachland Tavern on Sunday.
“We wanted to get comfortable as a band,” he says. “We went in the studio, and it seemed like there have been a lot of balls in the air, between me having my first child and Ed moving. It was an interesting process. Life was swirling around the record as we were making it. We knew we wanted to keep moving forward as a band. It was the one certain thing that we were going to make this album and the other things were the great unknown. We were just figuring them out as we went along.”
As result of all the turmoil, Sunday Morning Record, is the band’s most personal album to date. It starts out with a reflective ballad about the band’s home state (“Texas”) and then offers a bit of everything, including rollicking garage rock (“I Miss My Life”) and Jayhawks-like alt-country (“Shotgun”).
“This batch of songs was a much more personal trip than anything we had written before,” says Quist. “We wanted to give it some space and air and focusing on more wooden tones and organic sounds lends itself nicely to the themes and the personal nature of the material. From record to record, we like to try new things. We have no interest in going back and trying to recreate a sound we’ve already done. I think it still sounds like the band. The soul of Band of Heathens is intact. This album is a little mellower and more personal. It still has its peaks and valleys energy-wise. It’s not like every song is a ballad. It’s introspective.”
In “Records in Bed,” the band offers a nostalgic look back at the days when you had to listen to music on vinyl.
“I think it’s about going back to capturing the magic of music when you’re younger and music hits you in a specific way,” says Jurdi. “Everyone that has been a music fan their whole life can relate to that. It’s about listening to a record or seeing a show and having it blow your world away. In the aftermath of that, I remember sitting around with my friends talking about this shit and staying up until 5 or 6 in the morning and being completely absorbed by it. It was great and perfect and unadulterated by anything in the outside world. It’s a celebration of the listening process and idea of listening and being completely immersed in something when there’s a stoppage of time.”
When Band of Heathens first formed, Jurdi and Quist both had solo careers. The group has turned out to have some serious staying power.
“Initially, there wasn’t a whole lot of thought or commitment,” says Quist. “It was just Wednesday nights in Austin. It was just fun. It was a fun time to let loose and experiment with a band that didn’t ever rehearse and it was a loose experiment in collaboration and harmony. We were having a good time singing together and it just fell together. The songs seemed to work well with the band. There were some guys who left and we were just having a great time with it. We still are.”