Harmony-heavy Seattle sextet The Head and the Heart was one of the West Coast’s most unexpected breakout bands of 2010, and after signing with Sub Pop the group is poised to break out across the country this year. In the Northeast, that all starts this week as THATH tours the region for the first time – including shows at the Paradise on Saturday and Sunday – with Philadelphia indie favorites Dr. Dog. FiTi got up to speed with drummer Tyler Williams who, from the sounds of it, could use some ideas for killing time when the band gets to Boston. Feel free to offer your suggestions in the comments area below.
Your signing with Sub Pop was perhaps one of the worst-kept industry secrets of late 2010. What made that such a great fit for you guys, as opposed to the bigger labels who may have come calling as well?
Our goal is always to grow the band very organically, through word of mouth. A lot of the other labels said they wouldn’t go to radio right away, but their successes seem to depend heavily on large-scale radio pushes. We felt like Sub Pop was the most straightforward in what we could expect. Plus, they’re in Seattle so we can drop by and get a good amount of work done without confusing long-distance communication.
In the earliest days of the album’s release, you were selling burned copies in handmade denim sleeves. What are you looking forward to most with Sub Pop’s physical re-release of the record in April? Any creative packaging plans in the works?
We really wanted to just make a nice package for people who may have the previous edition. The artwork on the self release was put together pretty quickly and with limited resources, so this time we had more help in making our ideas come across. I think, personally, I’m most excited about the vinyl. It has slight variations from the CD, which is always cool.
You’re touring the Northeast for the first time at a somewhat rough time of year. Has Dr. Dog given you any particularly helpful tips for handling harsh-weather touring?
Luckily, the weather has been kind, aside from a lot of early-tour rain. We’ve got the chains in the van and if we need to throw them on, so be it. We did just grab a trailer, though, so that might make snow driving more interesting. Dr. Dog has shown us how to have an overall fun tour experience, but I believe their motto is “Fuck it, we’ll do it live” – so they probably don’t worry about bad weather. They just do work.
Do you have any big plans for your down time here in Boston, given that you’re in town for a couple nights?
We’re going to drive around, yelling out of the van windows for Natalie Portman. She’s a Bostonian, right? Natalie!
There are videos of you guys performing in impromptu locations all over the Web – in vans and warehouses, outdoors, you name it. What’s the craziest gig you’ve agreed to play to help promote the band?
The craziest gig we’ve done was actually last week. I had booked us to play two benefit shows in my hometown – Fredericksburg, VA – for Fredericksburg All Ages, who are an amazing promoter of young music in that town. It was our day off, so naively I thought we could do anything! I didn’t know we had a WXPN World Cafe session booked in Philly. We ended up waking at 5 a.m. in Virginia, driving to Philly, playing 4 songs for World Cafe and booking it back to Virginia. We were a little late for the matinee acoustic show, but the late full-band show went off really well. Stressful day. Sorry Baltimore and Washington parkway drivers for the maneuvers…
The Head and the Heart opens for Dr. Dog at the Paradise Rock Club on Saturday, Feb. 19 (tickets here) and Sunday, Feb. 20 (tickets here). Their self-titled debut album is available now digitally from Sub Pop, remastered and re-released with a new track (“Rivers and Roads”). It will be released on vinyl and CD for Record Store Day in April.
Photo by Josh Principle.