Kenny Hensley of Indie Folk Band, THE HEAD AND THE HEART, Takes A Break From Flying In A Hot Air Balloon For a Q&A!
Posted On 08 Oct 2014
The Head and the Heart have a very fitting band name; the earnest six-piece group from Seattle met at an open mic night and have a very making music for their own personal pleasure ever since. Fans have taken to the band’s unselfconscious ethos—their blend of lush, expert instrumentalism and intuitive, honest lyrics. Despite opening for popular acts such as Dave Matthews, and making the late-night talk show circuit, the band hasn’t lost their collective head or heart.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa caught pianist / keyboardist, Kenny Hensley between shows and filming a new video.
Hi Kenny! Where does this interview find you today? What’s on the agenda today besides this interview?
Today we are about an hour outside of Seattle, shooting the Music video for “Let’s Be Still.” All sorts of funny business going down. Flying through the air on wires, hot air balloons, etc.
In just a few years you guys have gone from this great local band that Seattle could be really proud of to gaining attention all over the world. How did your musical journey begin? How has your life changed since then?
You know? Everything has happened so gradually, although quickly compared to most, that our brains have had just enough time to adjust to things as they evolve. Obviously, our lives have changed. What was once purely a hobby or means of personal therapy is now a full time job. And we have a whole team of people working with and for us who in some ways, depend on us to keep up workflow. Life’s very different. We fly in airplanes way more than I ever thought I would.
You guys all met at an open mic night in Seattle. Was it love at first listen? Do you remember the songs you sang that night?
We all met at the bar Conor Byrne. They have an open mic night every Sunday and we played it most weeks after meeting to hone songs we were working on. We didn’t all meet at the open mic night though, but all at the bar. Chris would bar tend there so naturally, we got to know him after a while. I saw Jon and Josiah play with some friends on a Friday night just after moving to Seattle. I don’t remember what they played but they were all pre-The Head and the Heart songs. I was just impressed by both so made sure I became friends with them that night. Later, we became friends with Charity at the same joint. Tyler was the one member who knew one of us (Jon) from high school years and moved out specifically to join the band once we were going.
You guys all now reside in Seattle but are all from different places. How do you think your location influenced your style? Were you inspired by the music scene where you lived?
Actually… Now only three of us are in Seattle. Jon and Tyler have since moved back to Virginia, and Josiah lives in Toronto. Seattle definitely did inspire our music though, before living there and during. We all grew up loving the PNW “subpop”/other Seattle label bands and the scene was so strong when our band was formed. Unlike most cities, in Seattle you could form a band, start playing shows, and watch the crowds grow. People really care about the music in town and word of mouth is very powerful. We really never had to do a ton of marketing. It just came from other friends and musicians being supportive.
What was the inspiration for your latest single, “Another Story”?
Jon was inspired to write the song after the Newtown tragedy. It wasn’t directly related to that specific event, but more as a whole, in society. I wouldn’t want to get too in depth.
Is there anyone you guys would like to work with and collaborate with in the future? (i.e.; producer, singer, songwriter, fellow musician)
We haven’t talked so much about collaborating. We all have very similar yet different tastes in music and would each have our dream list of musicians to work with. We’ve never worked with a producer but are thinking we will for this next record. Were all very excited to start hunting around and talking to these people who have helped make records we know and love.
What is your approach to songwriting? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes? Do you need total solitude and peace and quiet or can you write just about anywhere?
It can definitely come out anytime, but not all the time. We’ve had times where we try to force out a song and after days and days, nothing comes out of it. Then we have moments like Another Story. We were all in the studio and Jon was messing around with this new song. One by one, we all joined and a few hours later we had a song that was finished and we were happy with. It’s so unpredictable.
What was the first song you fell in love with growing up?
My mom had these mix tapes she called her “happy songs” when I was a kid. All Beatles, Paul Simon, csny, and random 80s hits. I fell in love with music at this time.
Who are some of the new artists who inspire you? Who is in your current playlist? Any “guilty pleasure” songs or who would we be surprised to find on your playlist?
It’s always changing. I personally tend to stick to the older bands and musicians I grew up listening to. But dr dogs been a big one. High school years were full of Belle and Sebastian and Sigur Ros. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a guilty pleasure, but have been listening to Sia lately. Same catchy qualities that any radio pop songs have but the fact that she writes all her songs makes me a proud listener. Crazy voice on that lady!
You guys have toured with Vampire Weekend, Dr. Dog, Dave Matthews, My Morning Jacket, Death Cab For Cutie and more. Can you share with our readers a memorable story / favorite moment from any of the festivals or from touring?
We’ve been so lucky to tour with these bands. Death Cab was a band we all loved during our “coming of age” years and being able to watch then every night was something special. MMJ are some of the most down to earth dudes I’ve ever met. Have some good Dave Matthews stories but I’m not sure if I should be telling them. If you ever run into me in person I’d be glad to share!
What’s on tap next for The Head And The Heart?
Finish up touring for the year. Take some good time off to decompress and find inspiration in normal living. Then to the writing block and eventually studio to record our third record!
To keep up with the latest, visit the The Head And The Heart website here