Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass with Band of Heathens

“Organic” is one polite term that could be used to describe the formation of the Austin-based Band of Heathens. “Accidental” is a more blunt, though perhaps more accurate label. Regardless of the adjective, when you listen to the country-rock collective, it’s apparent that any accident that brought songwriters Colin Brooks, Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist together was clearly a happy one.


“Organic” is one polite term that could be used to describe the formation of the Austin-based Band of Heathens. “Accidental” is a more blunt, though perhaps more accurate label. Regardless of the adjective, when you listen to the country-rock collective, it’s apparent that any accident that brought songwriters Colin Brooks, Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist together was clearly a happy one.

With the three bards sharing the bill each Wednesday at Austin music spot Momo’s in 2006, the evenings eventually evolved into a night-long collaboration. Each sat in on another’s set, with improvisation serving as the only standard. With Seth Whitney already serving as the bassist for the night, the ensemble added drummer John Chapman to the mix, finalizing a lineup that had come to be known as “The Good Time Supper Club.”

“I think we kind of decided to form [as a band] by indecision,” Jurdi says. “That’s kind of our modus operandi. There was really no motivation or intention behind it.”

“The first practice session, was on stage, and it still usually is,” Quist adds.

Roughly a year later, having released a sampling of its show with Live From Momo’s, Band of Heathens was recognized at the Austin Music Awards as “Best New Band.” The group was also a runner-up in categories for “Band of the Year,” “Album of the Year” and “Song of the Year” among others.

It was a rapid rise for the group, whose members found they could conquer new frontiers by blending their talents.

“In general it was an explosion of harmony singing,” Quist says of his enjoyable early impressions playing with the group. “This sort of became a bunch of friends sitting in with each other, where there wasn’t a leader so much as guys trying to make music together. And that allowed us all to take more chances and try a harmony part that we hadn’t tried before and really experiment.”

Now the band looks to further its ascent with the release of its self-titled studio debut album at the end of May. The studio effort, an 11-track album, featuring multiple compositions from each of the group’s three song-writing frontmen, captures a collection of harmony-heavy tunes that illustrate the band’s diverse talents and influences melding into a potent finished product.

“Taking [a song] from this lump of coal and turning it into a diamond and polishing it and presenting it to people, that’s really satisfying,” Jurdi says. “That’s the enjoyment, the work itself.”

Highlighting the album are the country-fied blues ballad, “Jackson Station” and rowdy and raucous bar romp of “Unsleeping Eye.” The latter tune serves as a perfect illustration of the sort of live-wire energy found at the Heathens’ concerts. Such a spectacle will be on display June 13 when the Heathens take the stage at IOTA Club and Cafe in Arlington. Tickets are $13 and the show begins at 9 p.m.

• For more information on Band of Heathens, visit www.bandofheathens.com.

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