Heartist: The Journey Thus Far

heartistcover1The last year has been an unexpected adventure for Heartist.  The Orange County based band found themselves signed to Roadrunner Records, releasing a well-received EP entitled Nothing You Didn’t Deserve, and hitting the open road for the first time in their lives.  Along the way they’ve encountered a cluster of deer, picturesque shires, and a whole new collection of friends and fans.  We caught up with front man Bryce Beckley at The Roxy on the infamous Sunset Strip.  The band was on tour with Enter Shikari, Architects UK, and Crossfaith.  It was a few hours before the show and even in spite of being at the tail end of a cold, the charismatic Heartist vocalist discussed with Highwire Daze Online their exciting musical journey so far.  Read on and find out about the terrifying place where deer and Heartist meet – and much more!

How has this tour been going and what have been some of the highlights so far?
The tour has been going phenomenally. All of bands are super friendly and everyone gets along really well. The guys in Enter Shikari are really humble. It’s been a really good experience. Honestly, Enter Shikari puts on some of the best performances that I’ve seen in my life – so it’s cool to be able to see their experience as a headliner and us being this brand new band and to get to kind of learn the ropes from them. It’s been actually really awesome. The tour’s been going really well, beyond getting sick over the last few days, it’s been really, really fun.

What are your overall impressions of our local LA/OC music scene?
It used to not be so good – a couple of years ago it really wasn’t that great. Lately though, there’s been kind of a resurgence – a lot of bands are getting more appreciated in the area. Like our friend bands who play in the area – they’re all getting picked up by managements or by labels. Everyone is finally getting a chance. It seemed like the OC was really void of bands that were really doing anything for a while, so it’s nice to see. We found a way to break out and a lot of other bands are following in suit – at least here. Speaking The King’s are friends, our buddies in One Last Look, Dayseeker, a bunch of other bands, all doing really well.

Nothing You Didn’t Deserve has been out a while now. How close are you guys to recording a full length and is there a working title yet?
There is no working title yet. We’re actually about half way through a full length right now – just us demoing stuff. And we’re trying to get into the studio at the end of the year to get it done, so hopefully early 2014 with a full length, but we have no set date yet. We haven’t booked any studio time. We’re shooting for that date.

Select any two Heartist songs you’ll be performing tonight and what inspired the lyrics.
Well, Where Did I Go Wrong is about kind of losing a relationship. It’s about putting all of your everything – all of your effort into making a relationship work – and it’s just not working. And the other person kind of giving up and not really understanding why. So it’s like asking a question where did I go wrong? What did I do with this relationship that wasn’t good enough? And Nothing You Didn’t Deserve – the title track – is actually about a man with psychosis. It’s his two split personalities battling each other. The screaming represents his dark, sinister side and the singing represents his clean side. And it’s about him getting cheated on, and him battling his feelings towards his girlfriend. And he ends up killing her at the end. It’s subtlety in there, but that’s what it’s about when we wrote it.

Photo by: Kenneth Morton

Photo by: Kenneth Morton

So how surprised are you to realize, “Wow, we’re signed to Roadrunner Records?”
Ah! In fact in early 2011, when we were just starting to write all of the music, we were always making jokes about “Oh, it would be so cool if we played one show and got signed!” or “It would be so cool if we did this and got signed to a major label!” Just silly stupid stuff. We took as much time as we could to build up a buzz for ourselves before we played any shows. And luck of the draw – it really helped us out and I mean it shocked us! We played our first show – Roadrunner was there and there were a few other labels – and management and all kinds of stuff there. We played one show – Roadrunner flew us out. It happened really quickly – a lot faster than any of us thought it was going to happen. I think it’s still hitting all of us – because we’re still so fresh and we’re really brand new and we’re getting all of these opportunities. It’s still slowly dawning on us how insane the opportunity is. And it is insane! I mean, a lot of people would kill to be where we are right now and we’re definitely not taking it for granted.

This has actually been your first tour I think…
Number two…

Number two, okay. So has there been any strange or scary happenings out on the road yet?
Okay, the scariest thing that we did – on our first tour actually, we were driving through Texas – and we drove through this old backwoods road. And we were probably on it for like four hours – and it was the middle of the night like 3 in the morning. There was really, really dense fog, and there were deer everywhere! Like running across the road, and dead deer in the road. Our bassist is a nut about soundtracks, so he put on the Silent Hill soundtrack. And we drove for an hour and a half listening to the Silent Hill soundtrack, all on the edges of our set looking out the window and dodging deer throughout the road. It was actually scary! It scared all of us. I think we have it on tape where we’re driving, and there’s a deer carcass in the road that we ran over – and all of us screamed at the top of our lungs at the same time. We like to psyche ourselves out while we’re driving. And then like later, we’re playing The Hobbit soundtrack as we’re driving through a place that looks like The Shire the next day.

While on the road, some drunk guy offers you 100 bucks to play What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction. What do you do?
I apparently refuse the 100 dollars because I don’t know that song. I know, I’m not a One D, or whatever they’re called. The One Directioners I think.

Photo Credit: Travis Shinn

Photo Credit: Travis Shinn

What advice would you give a band starting out, wanted to get signed to a record label? I’m sure everyone asks you this.
I wish that I had an easy answer to it. Honestly, we got really lucky, to tell you the truth. We came from older bands and older projects that did the standard “Here I am. I’m in a local band. Let’s grind out as many shows as we can – and have promoters kick our ass with doing 50 presales a night for a show that no one wants to go to.” It sucks! Being in a local band IS one of the hardest points of being in a band. It’s just so much work that you have to do yourself that sucks – especially doing presale like that. What we did – we knew the game – we knew how it normally goes, so we did what we could to not do it. So in the beginning, we played no shows – we wrote as much music as we could before releasing any of it to the public. We sat on our EP for over a year and a half – just making sure it got into the right hands at the right time. We tried to be more strategic about it than just like, “Oh we have a song done. Let’s put it online and show everyone.” I don’t know how much advice that is…

…but that’s how you did it.
…but that’s how we did it. But again, we’re very lucky. I don’t think it could be that way for everyone. I think the stars aligned at the correct point and we got really lucky with it.

What’s up next for you guys after this tour is over?
After this tour, we go to Europe with Killswitch Engage. We’re going to be back for a week and then we fly out. It’s insane. All of us, expect our drummer, haven’t been to Europe before. I mean, we’re going with a band that we all looked up to growing up in high school. I mean, it’s Killswitch Engage! It’s unbelievable! And we get to do it in a different country. It’s like 22 different countries that we get to go to. We literally fly out of Europe and back into the States and we start a tour the night we get back again – with Crown The Empire and Capture The Crown. It’s going to be a busy few months, but we’re all ready! We’re stoked! We love being out on the road. I don’t think any of us are at the point where it’s eight years down the line, and we’re like, “Oh, my God! Can we go home and hug our dogs?” Right now it’s so much fun just being out. So very busy few months ahead, and afterwards hopefully getting into the studio, but no promises.

Do you have any messages for Heartist fans out here in Los Angeles and Orange County?
Other than a gargantuan thank you for all the support that we’ve gotten. Like I said, it happened way faster than we thought it would. And as many fans as we have already in the area and around the county already – it’s shocking to go to a state that we’ve never been to and have kids singing songs. It’s crazy. So I love you all, Heartist fans, and thank you so much!

Heartist is:
Bryce Beckley – Vocals
Jonathan Gaytan – Guitar
Tim Koch – Guitar
Matt Marquez – Drums
Evan Ranallo – Bass

(Interview by Kenneth Morton – Live Photo by Talia Farber)

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