TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: The Cameo Theater
With their eighth studio album, Simple Things, The Band of Heathens came home—geographically, as they returned to their longtime base of Austin for the recording; sonically, in an embrace of the rootsy, guitar-based rock with which they made their name; and thematically, with lyrics that speak to appreciating friends and family and our limited time on this planet. It’s a confident, assured statement of a group finding its place in the world amid uncertain and troubled times.
“It was a return to embracing our influences, our natural instincts, the way we sound when we get on stage,” says guitarist-vocalist Gordy Quist. “Many times in the past, we’d take a song and stretch to make it 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 strong enough. With the subject matter, there’s a sentiment of focusing on what’s important as we go through this journey together—don’t waste time, because this is all we’ve got.”
Though the members of The Band of Heathens now live scattered across the country, coming back to Austin (where they first formed in the early 2000s when Quist and Jurdi were among four songwriters playing regular weekly sets at the late, lamented club Momo’s) was crucial to the making of Simple Things. “The city has grown and undergone many changes over the years, but the intangibles that make Austin a unique place are still alive and well,” says Jurdi. “I feel like the band wouldn’t have come together anywhere else. As Austin has evolved, the band has evolved too, and now coming back feels like a very full circle moment.”
“We’ve been able to grow with each record,” says Jurdi, “all the while doing exactly what we wanted to do—which, believe me, has not always been the best thing for our career or commercial success. There’s never been anyone there to tell us, ‘Guys, don’t do this, you’re fucking up completely.’ That was the whole thing to us, the idea of being in a rock and roll band is freedom, right? We grew up with icons and heroes that not only represented music, but a lifestyle, an attitude, and a way of doing things. Those ideas molded us in our youth and we’ve carried them with us ever since.”
“We’ve realized,” says Quist, “it’s us, it’s our families, and it’s our fans, and that’s really all that matters.”