The members of Kind Hearted Strangers
intentionally put pressure on themselves to write and record their latest album in an unfamiliar location in just five days. Sequestering themselves in an abandoned warehouse in Richmond, Virginia, they invited visual artist Dylan Lynch to paint an entire exhibition of art around them as they brought their new songs to life.
“The intention of the project was to commit to this time and space and to allow the artists to inform each other’s work, all while taking influence from the surrounding environment,” says songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Marc Townes, who, along with lead guitarist Kevin Hinder founded the Americana Southern rock/folk group
. “Looking back now, we found that it worked really well for us.”
Kind Hearted Strangers will release the full-length album, Now.here
, sometime in April, with the lead single, “Circles,” dropping February 3. Film footage documenting the band's recording sessions alongside the art exhibit will be released, as well. "[It's] kind of a beast to go through all of the files, but we're talking with a videographer next week who can help with that,” Townes says. The band will perform its new music on Saturday, January 21, at Cervantes’ Other Side, as part of the venue’s twentieth-anniversary month
The band found an abandoned warehouse in Richmond, Virginia, to record and film its latest work.
While creating a full-length album on the spot in a constrained time frame is not everyone's recipe for success, it made sense to Townes and Hinder, as well as the band's bassist/vocalist Adrian Engfer and drummer Eggy Gorman.
Engfer says the Denver-based band experienced a sense of brotherhood during a month-long tour in the Southeastern states prior to making the new album, which informed its decision. “Last July, we learned from playing so many shows — some of them three-hour sets — that the band jelled as a unit,” Engfer explains. “That’s also the first time we had our drummer, Eggy, from Nashville with us. He initially signed on to do the tour, but it wasn’t until the end of it, when we were playing in Charlotte, North Carolina, that he was asked to join the group, which was a special moment for all of us.”
As the four trekked across states like Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia, playing back-to-back weekends, they discovered a palpable chemistry existed between them. “You develop a connection, a sixth sense, where you don’t have to say anything — you know what the other is thinking. It’s this flow state, where you’re going to turn a certain way on stage, and you know the other person already knows to go over there,” says Townes. “So when we were done with the tour and it came time to make this record, we had this connection.”
The bandmembers invited visual artist Dylan Lynch to paint an entire exhibition of art around them as they brought their new songs to life.
After finishing their tour, the bandmates headed to Richmond last August to scout a location that would be conducive to the creativity the project needed. “Recording in an unfamiliar place brings in a different vibe as opposed to being home, where we would go back to our places at the end of the day," says Townes. "Instead, staying in the same place allowed us to be fully present and focus solely on the task at hand. That’s something we're very interested in continuing doing as we keep recording.”
The group found an empty warehouse where it was able to record and film. For the production and engineering, the musicians tapped their good friend Todd Dival, who brought his recording equipment from Denver.
“The place was basically a dirty, dusty, giant metal shed. There was no running water, toilets or air conditioning,” recalls Townes. “But because of the gritty environment we were in, creating new material together on the spot, recording the live sound in real time, there were amazing moments captured.”
With plenty of natural reverb and space, the songs were stripped down to the essentials, with two electric guitars, a bass and drums. “I had been going through a thing where I was switching guitars all the time. I was playing acoustic guitar, sometimes electric, other times tuning the guitar strangely, and day after day, I kept picking up the same electric guitar. In the end, I realized the sonic space didn’t hold a place for any acoustic instrument,” explains Townes.
The band’s newer, raw sound can be traced to its 2022 Cerberus
EP, which indicates where the Kind Hearted Strangers' progressive sonic landscape was headed, evolving from Americana- and acoustic-centered music to a “four-piece rock band that is louder, grungier, with hard-edged electric guitar, and harmony-driven.” The title song off Cerberus
is a rock jam tinged with Allman Brothers influence that clocks in at eleven minutes, while some acoustic elements of the group’s earlier work can be heard on its 2021 LP, East // West
, particularly the track “The Egoist
“Going into [Now.here
], I think we all wanted to create something that would be really fun to play live, that’s high-energy," says Townes. "We're excited to see how people will respond."
Kind Hearted Strangers play Cervantes’ Other Side, 2637 Welton Street, at 8 p.m. Saturday, January 21. Tickets are $20. To keep up with Kind Hearted Strangers, visit the band’s website.