Band of Heathens rocks the stage
The band blends country, rock 'n' roll and soul.
Jimi Hendrix famously said, “Music is my religion.” If music is a religion, its devoted followers include all people who believe in the powerful influence music has on the soul. Ironically, the members of the Band of Heathens are anything but heathens -- at least not regarding the religion of music.
“We’re trying to create music that is soulful and meaningful to us,” Heathens’ front man Ed Jurdi said. “Trying to find some experience in the words and the music that speaks to us and hopefully to the listener.”
Jurdi, who performs the guitar, harmonica, keys and vocals for the band, has been a devout follower of music his whole life.
“I’ve been playing music ever since I can remember,” Jurdi said. “Played at all of the school assemblies and then started into coffeehouses and clubs when I was a teenager, and it’s just been going like that ever since.”
Accompanying Jurdi in the front line are vocalists and guitarists Gordy Quist and Colin Brooks. Bass player and vocalist Seth Whitney and percussionist John Chipman make up the rhythm section.
With harmonica, lap steel guitar and dobro instrumentation, the Austin-based band creates a roots-inspired sound that blends country and soul influences into rock music.
“I think at our core we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band,” Jurdi said.
For the Band of Heathens, everyday life experiences often act as the driving force behind its music, pushing the group forward.
“A good conversation, watching or listening to great music, seeing a film, reading a great book, taking a walk — everything can lend itself to inspiration,” Jurdi said. “I feel like, with each successive record, we’ve been able to incorporate more of our influences, which has allowed us to use more of the colors in our palette.”
For Jurdi, life as a musician is all about performing.
“I like being able to play music,” Jurdi said. “I know that sounds obvious, but it’s a privilege that we have fans who support our music and our art, and I don’t take that for granted. When we’re playing all together on stage, and everyone is in sync, it’s like one big wall of sound. Everyone is playing off of each other, and we’re floating.”
But everyday life for the Band of Heathens does not always run as smoothly as its performances.
“This band is really all-consuming,” Jurdi said. “Everyone is really passionate about what we’re doing, which can lend itself to an intense environment. We’re with each other more than our own families, so it’s just us managing our relationships with each other, pushing each other to get better, but also taking a step back and giving each other space when necessary. It can be a bit of a high-wire act, but we all get on rather well.”
The band will perform Friday at Mojo’s. Wherever life takes the group after that, the Band of Heathens plans to continue making music with no end in sight.
“We’re putting the finishing touches on a record that should be out at the beginning of 2011,” Jurdi said. "We’ll be touring to promote that next year and writing and hopefully getting back in the studio the second half of the year to start on another album. Just living life on ‘The Golden Road.’”