Band of Heathens developed from a side project of several Austin songwriters at Momo’s, each of whom were pursuing other projects of solo work and sideman gigs. As they continued the residency and players flowed in and out of their scene, Gordy Quist, Ed Jurdy, and Colin Brooks realized that these Good Time Supper Club “Heathens” might just form a band of their own. Ultimately, the band became the Band of Heathens, and their first two live CD’s captured their great live vibe sharing creativity and connection amongst themselves and with the audience. Since their first studio record produced with Ray Wylie Hubbard, the Band of Heathens have continued to tour heavily, playing 150-250 dates per year.
Although different players have rotated through since 2004, the songwriting trio has remained as the heart of Band of Heathens, until late 2011, when Brooks announced that he was leaving to pursue other creative avenues. By the time we talked with Gordy Quist, the Heathens had had a few months to adapt to being a five-piece instead of a six-piece, but also to losing one-third of their songwriting base. Through Top Hat Crown and the Clapmaster’s Son, Band of Heathens worked from a free-flowing creative base, in constant pursuit of writing and challenging each other with both playing and lyrics, but losing Brooks’ portion of the interaction resembled losing a wheel on your vehicle for a while.
Band of Heathens intended to go into the studio for a new record in early 2012, but instead have chosen to find themselves together in their new format, rather than force something before they have found their new language. Quist believes that his songs are continuously evolving creatures, and does not feel bound by the lyrics he originally wrote, or the particular notes originally written, and this freedom to let songs grow over time has made the personnel change somewhat less chaotic; Band of Heathens were not rigid in the first place. They bring improvisation to the folk element of their songs, with a comfort from the blues and rock and roll traditions that also influence them. Jurdy and Quist played several dates as a duo this winter, fueling their writing, giving outlet to songs that are not Heathens’ tunes, and stoking a new fire that will be the next Band of Heathens album.
Songs in Episode 1219 Band of Heathens Include:
- Band of Heathens “Medicine Man,” “Enough,” “Gris Gris Satchel”
- Lyle Lovett “Ain’t It Something” from I Love Everybody
- Ray Wylie Hubbard (also because George Reiff was part of this project) “Coricidin Bottle”
- Owen Temple “Danger and Good Times” (Owen and Gordy have a weekly songwriting challenge to each other)
- One from next week’s episode 1220 Glossary “The Flood”