By SCOTT WEISSER firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — GOSHEN
Scenario: You’ve just bought the new album by The Band of Heathens. “I wonder what this sounds like,” you wonder aloud, instead of just putting the album on and listening to it.
Hint: The title isn’t false advertising.
“Sunday Morning Record” is the latest studio release from the Austin, Texas-based Heathens. It’s a subdued but not sleepy piece of Americana and the prevailing mood fits the title. Put another way, “Record” is not a Venom record.
According to the Heathens’ Ed Jurdi, the title immediately makes sense to the sort of people who listen to albums on Sunday mornings. He also said the songs on “Record” have “kind of a nice little narrative, sonically.”
Goshen listeners can hear part of that narrative live Tuesday night, when The Band of Heathens plays Ignition Music Garage downtown.
A “Record” listener can hear hints of non-Heathens on the album — Nilsson, the Stones in country-ramble mode, The Dead, ’70s singer-songwriter sounds. That said, the influences are pretty deftly incorporated into the band identity.
“I think that’s the idea,” Jurdi said in a phone interview with The Goshen News this week. “...The way you learn how to do what you do is by studying.” And in the case of most musicians, that means listening to other artists.
“I did that by putting on records that I liked and listening to them and learning how to play those songs,” Jurdi said. “Then taking those tools and figuring out how to use them with my own voice in mind.”
Discussing the Heathens’ creative process, Jurdi said, “You’re inspired by something, and you grab that idea out of the air and you start running with it. ...You’re using these little touchstone points more as inspiration than as a template.”
“Sunday Morning Record” is the Heathens fourth studio release, and seventh altogether. The band itself, made up of simpatico musicians from the Austin scene, assembled in 2005. In the near decade since, Band of Heathens has released albums that have reached the top spot on the Americana music charts. The group has been honored as Best New Band at the Austin Music Awards, and performed televised sets on PBS’ “Austin City Limits” and the German music program “Rockpalast.”
The group has undergone a line-up shift since its last studio record, 2011’s “Top Hat Crown and the Clapmaster’s Son;” Jurdi and Gordy Quist are the remaining Heathens from the formative days. Jurdi describes a productive creative relationship with Quist in which differences are key.
“We work well writing together because I think we bring different stuff to the table,” he said. “If you ask me exactly what that is, I’m not sure I could tell you. But I do know that after working with him for a while, I think we’re different enough in some ways but also the same enough in some ways in terms of what we’re looking to get out of the music.
“There’s always been a really good yin and yang in our relationship,” Jurdi added. “I’ve kind of found, I guess just in life, that’s a pretty important component in being in a relationship with anyone, whatever the context may be.”
Ignition concert-goers can expect “Sunday Morning Record” to be well-represented. Jurdi indicated the band is having fun playing “Sunday” tracks because those songs are new.
“We’re kind of at a point now where those songs are starting to really develop and take on a life of their own in a live setting,” he said.
On the road, The Band of Heathens also enjoys the freedom of a fluid set list.
“There’s only a few songs we play most of the time,” Jurdi said. “Other than that, though, it’s kind of a mixed bag — which really keeps it interesting for us, and we’ve found it actually keeps it interesting for our fans. Fortunately or unfortunately, we haven’t really had any big hit songs, so we’re not really beholden to have to play a song every night. ...We’ve found our fans have a lot of different favorite songs.”
If you want to go The Band of Heathens is scheduled to perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Ignition Music Garage, 120 E. Washington St., Goshen. Tickets cost $25. For ticket and other information about the show, visit the website www.ignitionmusic.net or call 574-971-8282.