How Sudden Stardom Affected the Head and the Heart
As Josiah Johnson of Seattle's folk-rock sextet the Head and the Heart describes it, the band has evolved from bright and sunny to darker and deeper.
"The first record was very optimistic, 'Follow your heart,' and the second was 'Even if you follow your heart, there are going to be some rough spots," says Johnson, a Californian who formed the band out of a songwriting partnership with Virginia native Jonathan Russell.
At first, it was open mic performances, and one by one, Johnson and Russell collected bandmates -- Kenny Hensley on piano, Charity Rose Thielen on violin, Tyler Williams on drums, and Chris Zasche on bass. The band built a following around Seattle, fans drawn by the instinctive three-part harmonies and captivating, inspirational songwriting.
"There was this period of time when we first started, and that carried over to when we recorded the first album when we weren't particularly great, but there as a magic vibe, a purity to the first record, which I really love," Johnson says.
The self-released, self-titled album made the band a local favorite in music-hungry Seattle and caught the attention of indie institution Sub Pop, which re-released the record in 2011 and sold nearly 300,000 copies. The heavy touring that followed helped shape the band in different ways, leading to the world-weariness that underscores much of last year's sophomore release Let's Be Still.