The Band of Heathens’ - Ed Jurdi: (guitar, keys, vocals), Gordy Quist (guitar, vocals), Trevor Nealon (keys, vocals), Richard Milsap (drums, vocals) and Scott Davis (bass, vocals) -
fifth studio album, Duende, released on January 13th, marks their tenth anniversary as a group. The album, a groove-heavy ten-track collection, centers around the themes of connection and communion in a technology-fueled world. Taking some time during their current tour, Quist kindly answered a few questions via email about the album, the songs and more.
The meaning of Duende and how it encompasses the theme of
the record has been well documented, but since it’s not a word you see every day, who had the idea to use it for the title and did the title come after the recording process, during, or somewhere in between?
I first heard Ed use the word a couple years ago and I had no idea what it meant. After he enlightened me to it's meaning it immediately struck me as a great album title, and it became our mantra as we worked on material and eventually went into the studio to try to find the soul of these songs.
It was mentioned that you guys brought 40 songs to the table before narrowing it down to the tracks on the record. Were they all written after your last project or were some ones you had in your pocket?
It was a little bit of both. A lot of the songs were brand new (I think "Green Grass of California" was only days old when we cut it), and then some of the songs we had been carrying around for a couple years. On those, we would re-write and re-work to get them how they needed to be. Sometimes a song arrives fully formed immediately and you have to capture it, and sometimes you gotta chew on a song for a year or two until it takes shape.
To me, two of the deeper tracks on the album are “Keys to the Kingdom” and “Cracking the Code.” Could you choose one and tell the story behind the song?
"Cracking the Code" is a song I wrote with my buddy Owen Temple after we had a good laugh at how compelled some people are to be taking pictures and movies on their cell phones throughout an entire concert. The song is a reflection on how "connected" we supposedly are, but how lonely and disconnected it feels being in a room full of people (or a dinner table full of people) glued to their phones because they're busy being "connected" to the rest of the world.
“Green Grass of California” was on 2016’s fan direct Green Grass EP. Why did you ultimately end up putting it on Duende and having it close the record?
All the songs on the Green Grass EP and the Duende LP came from the same batch of recording sessions. We were trying to find a way to release the 14 songs together, but we felt like that was too long for a single LP so we split em up into an EP release in 2016 and the Duende LP in 2017. The LP ends with "Green Grass of California" and the EP begins with "Green Grass of California" (the only song that is on both releases). Our master plan however is revealed if you pick up the double vinyl version of the release. Sides A&B are the 10 songs on the regular Duende release, ending with "Green Grass of CA" and side C is the 4 songs from the Green Grass EP that come after "Green Grass of CA"... Side D is an art etching that goes with the rest of the artwork. It's all 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl that sounds pretty rad.
I’ve seen you play everywhere from the Braun Brothers Reunion to the Scoot Inn and Mercury Lounge, but earlier this week you played City Winery in NYC, a sit-down venue. Does the type of venue vary the way you approach the show in any way?
The venue and the energy of the audience always shapes the performance. Our shows are a continuous push & pull of energy between each of us in the band, between the band and the audience, between our amps and the walls of the room... We're feeding off of each other in the band to throw some music out into the room and then the energy that comes back to us creates a feedback loop that fuels the whole show. Outdoor festivals and sweaty rock clubs definitely feed the high energy raucous rock n roll while the seated listening rooms invite more story telling and acoustic tunes. As a performer, opening yourself up and reacting to the room is what makes each night different and honestly, it's what keeps us sane through the end of a tour.
Finally, are there any “firsts” for the band that you are looking forward to in 2017?
We've toured Europe a bunch over the years but we're going to Spain for the first time (as a band) in May. My mom grew up in Madrid and I have a bunch of family over there so I'm really looking forward to playing there for the first time.
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