Music News

The Heyday Enters Its Prime

It's been said that being in a band is a lot like being married. In reality, though, interacting in a group dynamic is often like being in the most volatile romantic relationship imaginable — times a thousand. While the intense closeness forged between bandmates can inspire meaningful art, that same intimacy can also drive them apart.

The members of the Heyday are barely entering their heyday. Everything is still sublime for the young quintet, which has only been together for a year and a half. But its members recently took the kind of leap that can test the limits of any relationship: They moved in together.

"So far, it's working out pretty well," reports frontman Randy Ramirez. "It can get challenging, figuring out everything from who's going to do the dishes to when we're going to practice. But so far, so good."

That same sentiment could be applied to the Heyday itself, which has quickly become one of the area's most promising new acts. The band has made quite an impression in a remarkably short amount of time with its effervescent, guitar-driven pop. One listen to their self-titled debut makes it clear that these guys have a handle on crafting instantly addictive hooks. It's no wonder they're turning heads.

"It seems like every time we go back to a venue, the draw is little better," Ramirez declares. "We've been printing these three-song demos for the last six or eight months, and we've handed out close to 2,000 of them, which seems to be helping to build the fan base. We put the MySpace site on there, and the next thing you know, people are coming to the shows."

That's most likely because they can relate to the simplicity and the sincerity of the Heyday's music — which is not to say that it's boring or sappy; in this case, "pop" is not a dirty word. The act just has a knack for writing songs driven by the type of relatable narratives you know by heart. Ramirez has already learned a lesson that still eludes many songwriters twice his age: Songwriting is not only about finding a way to tell your own stories; it's also about finding a way to make those stories universal.

"Well, all of the songs are obviously things I've experienced," he points out. "Not necessarily word for word, but just general experiences that I've gone through and other people have gone through, and that people can relate to. Sometimes I can look at something two months behind me and then write about it."

This sense of familiarity permeates the band's music. On its MySpace page, the Heyday describes its sound as "the drive home with all your friends on the last night of summer," which, it turns out, is a perfect description. Led by Ramirez's vibrant and powerful tenor, the songs soar, sounding natural and unforced. At the same time, there's a tangible sense of longing and melancholy shading their edges, especially on tracks such as "One Foot Out the Door," from the act's self-titled debut. Over an upbeat tune that's virtually one long hook, Ramirez sings the lines "If this is the way it has to be/Don't come back to look for me/Just let it go and turn around while you still can."

Fortunately, when it came to the Heyday, Ramirez heeded his own advice. Toward the end of high school, he was playing in a band called Like Chasing Wind with keyboardist Jeff Appareti. Frustrated at being confined to playing strictly roots/Americana music, he and Appareti began seeking out other musicians to form a new band. And like a storybook romance, the pieces just fell into place when the two met guitarist Brian Martin, bassist Peter Wynn and drummer Sean Bennett.

"I had been playing with Like Chasing Wind for a little over a year," Ramirez recalls. "And right about the time that we started this band, pretty much all of us were finishing high school and doing our own thing. And I decided to start doing something a little more serious. Jeff was also in Like Chasing Wind, and he and I started asking around for people to jam with, and we met Brian, and then Peter and Sean. It all kind of came together the day after the last Like Chasing Wind show."

Although the bandmembers have all dabbled in music throughout their lives, adding Wynn and Bennett opened a lot of doors musically for the nascent group. The rhythm section had played together in jazz band and percussion ensemble while attending Cherry Creek High School, and their experience added a layer of technical complexity to the group.

"I think all of us have had some degree of private instruction," Ramirez says. "I took bass lessons and guitar lessons for a long time. And, of course, Peter and Sean have played in jazz bands for years, so they bring a lot to the table in terms of our sound."

The style that Ramirez and company came up with was arresting enough to grab the attention of singer-songwriter Christopher Jak, who's produced records for a number of other Colorado artists, such as Melissa Ivey and Coles Whalen. The Heyday had already recorded five tracks at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins for a planned EP release last August, but engineer Andrew Berlin was so taken with the band that he passed the recording on to Jak, who offered his production services.

"Before we released the EP," Ramirez notes, "it got into the hands of Chris Jak, and he wanted to release it as a full-length. So we went back into the studio in December and recorded five more songs and re-recorded the ones we had already done. It was just right off the bat. We'd barely been around for four or five months, and to already be starting on a full-length was really great."

The resulting album is a seamless piece of pure pop rock, with an added depth of feeling that is surprising considering that most of the members are barely old enough to drink. But what they lack in years, they more than make up for in talent. More important, as a group the Heyday seems larger than a sum of its parts. Although Ramirez says he or another player often brings a tune or a few lyrics to the band as a starting point, the music is ultimately a communal effort.

"A lot of times I bring the foundation, some chord progression or some lyrics," Ramirez reveals, "or someone else brings something to the table and we all kind of arrange it from there. The finished song is more of a collective product."

Sounds like the beginning of a long and productive relationship.