Although acts such as Tool, Widespread Panic and the Fray are clearly the main draw at this weekend's Mile High Music Festival, it's support bands like Band of Heathens, slated to perform on Saturday, that demonstrate the prodigious depth of the fest's lineup. Boiling down Band of Heathens sound to a short sound bite is a fool's errand thanks to the band's vast library of musical influences, from the smooth R&B crooning of Sam Cooke to the southern fried rock of the Allman Brothers. We caught up with multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Ed Jurdi, who told us that he enjoys Colorado, not just for it's scenery and people, but also for it's beer. And who doesn't like beer? Read the full interview after the jump.
Westword (Dutch Seyfarth): With so many great bands coming from Austin, what does Band of Heathens do differently than other Austin bands to stand apart?
Ed Jurdi: I think the general dynamic of the band, three lead singers/songwriters/guitarists, coupled with the presentation of the show in a rock and roll format, is what makes us slightly different. There are so many great bands from Austin, from a variety of styles, so there really is a lot of encouragement within the musical community to just do your own thing.
WW: Where did the name "Band of Heathens" come from?
EJ: An intentional misprint in a local arts paper. The misprint didn't come from the band, it came from a source that we're not exactly able to divulge. We had been calling ourselves "The Goodtimes Supper Club," once "The Heathens" hit the paper everyone just started calling us that.
WW: The band obviously pulls from a few different musical genres in the crafting of it's sound, which musician brings what to the table musically?
EJ: There is so much overlap within our musical tastes, that it's really impossible to say where a particular style or influence comes from. We're all influenced by a lot of the same music; yet when a song goes into the mill and gets input from everyone, it just ends up sounding like something from The Heathens, which we generally find is right where the song needs to live. Ultimately everyone is there to serve the song and to find the right place to fit. The parts and finally the style are dictated more by the material than the individuals.
WW: Does the band's music change drastically from show to show? Or is the music well rehearsed and more or less the same each show?
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EJ: Every show is different. The band is a total visceral exercise. We never use a setlist, and we'll change arrangements up on the fly. If someone is really feeling a solo, or we want to jam more, we are able to just roll. It makes it really interesting on stage and allows us the opportunity to really play off the energy of the crowd and the moment, which is really vital to finding a free creative space. We're always chasing the buzz.
WW: The song "Right Here With Me" mentions Colorado prominently in the lyrics. Does the Band of Heathens have any great real life Colorado stories?
EJ: Colorado has really become like a second home to us. There are so many different amazing parts of the state, it's impossible to mention one amazing thing without leaving out ten others. Ya'll should know by now that you're residing in one of the magical places in the country. I forgot to say that we started writing "Right Here With Me" in the van in Colorado while we were on the road. It really is a magical place. Good beer too.
Band of Heathens perform at 12:30 p.m. this Saturday, July 18 at the Mile High Music Festival on the Mainstage East.