The Head and the Heart's Tyler Williams: "We're not looking for number-one radio hits"

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Playing those early open mic gigs, what made you realize you had made the right decision to relocate and join up with the band?

Actually, when I moved up here, I thought I had made a terrible decision. Just the fact that it was like pulling teeth to get people to show up on time for stuff. So it was kind of interesting, and I was like, "We don't even have a practice space and Kenny [Hensley's] playing a Casio keyboard with no amp!" So I think it took a couple of months to get everything together to where we were actually playing music as a band should be playing music and practicing on a regular schedule.

Was there a point where you had realized you'd made the right decision?

Yeah, when we put the record out and we started seeing this immediate response from Sonic Boom, the local record store there, and from people coming out to shows. So I think we knew something special was happening, but we just didn't really know the extent of where it was going. So that was pretty cool.

How do you see your role as a drummer in a band like this? You're clearly more than just a time keeper.

I definitely see it as a propulsion force. This could just be singer-songwriter music, but I think the rhythm section transcends that. It goes more into a rock or at times, with the grooves, even R&B or old soul-based music. If we didn't have that, it would just be singer-songwriter-based.

Going from playing open mics to smaller venues and smaller clubs and now mid-sized clubs and so forth, did you find that you had to make adjustments as a band to play those bigger shows?

The only time I felt that was when we were opening for Vampire Weekend in Seattle about three years ago. We hadn't really played any large place at the time. We played maybe two hundred fifty to five hundred capacity rooms, and to go from that to a three thousand seat theater, that was the only time I had felt nervous about playing a larger show.

For the most part, it's been a pretty natural progression of where we want to go. It's been nice having that organic growth and not being rushed into larger rooms too soon. We've kind of built this band to have a long career, so we're not looking for number-one radio hits or selling out amphitheaters the first year out. So I think we're happy with the growth we've had.

For the artwork on and in your album booklet there's an interesting series of photographs. Is there any significance to that?

Yeah, we were actually on tour when those were taken by our friend Tyler. There was the idea of calling the album Let's Be Still and to have tour photos to back up a little bit of that sentiment. I think that we really lucked out by having him out on the road capturing those candid shots.

Who is holding the Ella Sings Gershwin record?

That's Jon.

The color scheme? Is that something you came up with as well?

The color scheme was kind of designated by how we wanted that front album cover to look. It was a black and white photo and then we had Sasha at Sub Pop kind of do a water color treatment on it. When we saw that happen, we thought, "Let's use these other colors for the text and for the type." We're really hands on with all of our packaging and all of our posters. We like to make sure everything's the way we want it.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.

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