With a realistically positive outlook on life, Simple Things, the new album from The Band of Heathens, is a rollicking and insightful journey within life through Rock & Roll, with a clear Americana bent. Starting with the R&B-inflected opening track, “Don’t Let The Darkness,” that implores “Don’t get lost chasing answers to everything that went wrong; Don’t let the darkness get ahead of you,” songwriters Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist spend 40 minutes reminding us that while bad things always happen, there is usually good to be found, and by focusing on the good it can multiply.
“I started thinking that there’s a lot of sadness in the world,” says Jurdi. “That song is like a pep talk for my friends and myself. It’s sort of a mantra, to figure out how to get closer to being in the spot you want to be and keep the bad shit further away.”
The same positivity in the face of reality is clear in the next track, “Heartless Year” (“It’s been a heartless year but we’re still hanging on; Gonna face our fears and right these wrongs”) and winds through to the end, all delivered with the passion of longtime friends who enjoy playing straight-ahead Rock & Roll together, while Quist and Jordi harmonize in a way usually reserved for siblings. “Gordy and I each have a natural sound when we sing, but there’s something even more special and unique when our voices blend together,” continues Jordi. “So it was just about harnessing and embracing that. Good, mid-tempo rock and roll – that’s our breadbasket, and there’s not a lot of that music being made right now.”
The Band of Heathens formed in Austin in the aughts when Jordi and Quist regularly did a songwriters’ night at the city’s Momo’s, releasing a number of albums and touring constantly, all while building a following by trusting their instincts and staying totally independent. When the pandemic shut down the world just as they had all returned to Austin to start work on Simple Things, they responded by meeting weekly in the studio and playing covers that they learned growing up when they each played in garage bands, just to “get back in touch with that, as a survival mechanism and creative outlet,” as Jurdi says. It turns out that those sessions informed how Simple Things was made.
“It was a return to embracing our influences, our natural instincts, the way we sound on stage,” explains Quist. “Many times in the past, we’d take a song and stretch it to make into something else sonically, because that’s exciting and fun to do in the studio. This time around, we tried to use some restraint and embraced our first instincts, trusting the songs were enough.”
The result is an album full of concise, compelling songs that pulse with energy, ooze with emotion and touch the listener in the most relatable of ways, while keeping their feet moving, as well. Just like when you see The Band of Heathens play live.
As The Band of Heathens prepares to hit the road in support of Simple Things, radio is giving them a roadmap with strong support at Lightning 100, SoCal Sound, Birmingham Mountain Radio, Colorado Sound, WAPS and many, many others.