Written by James Killen
Aug 21, 2013 at 02:00 AM
ImageI called Gordy Quist the other night at the behest of his publicist to get a feel for the current disposition of the Band of Heathens. Fans are quite aware that there have been personnel changes over the last year and a half or so. Gordy and Ed Jurdi, the remaining two of the BoH writing team have just put out a new disc, “Sunday Morning Record”, that may well be the new direction for the Heathens. Gordy was open and ready to share what he sees as the impetus of the band and its members for the near future.

HMR- The touring has slowed somewhat since the release of “Double Down”. Is that a result of road burnout or a sudden onset of adulthood?

GQ- What’s that, road burnout, the guys leaving the band?

HMR- Actually the slowdown in touring, is what I was asking about.

GQ- Actually, one guy left the band, Colin Brooks, not long after we recorded the “Double Down”, and the beginning of 2012, we were still touring, but we had to start relearning how to play going from a six piece to a five piece band. We were ready to go in to the studio earlier in 2012, but with the shake-up, we had to reorganize and then the bass player and the drummer ended up leaving six months later, because they didn’t want to tour as much. Okay, we needed to tour as a unit, and get tight, so it was kind of this see-sawing between wanting to record and to tour. At the end of 2012 we had my first child and I wanted to be home. During that period we did a lot of recording at home and we had initially hoped to release the record at the beginning of 2013. That got pushed back because we wanted to add new songs or more songs. We kept going back in the studio and saying let’s record 3 more or 4 more. Our touring has been a starting and stopping thing, whereas in the past we were doing 250 shows a year, last year we did about 120 or 140 shows. It’s not quite as crazy as it used to be. Here in the fall we are hoping to ramp it up again.

HMR- Cool. I recognized that you guys had a pretty aggressive touring schedule. Actually, the reference to the sudden onset of adulthood was a reference to the birth of your child. I’m familiar with that. I had that about thirty years ago, so I know how that happens.

GQ- Hah, yeah.

ImageHMR- The Band of Heathens has been through some changes, lately. How do you see the band going forward?

GQ- The band has been in a constant state of evolution from the beginning. Early on, we had some people that left the band and joined the band, but for about four years the band has been pretty much the same. In the last year that’s been changed, but even when the core unit was the same we were always trying to push things and make each record sound different from the one before. I think now it’s just a continuation of that evolution. The new drummer, Richard Milsap is great. Our old drummer, John, actually found him for us. John wanted to stay home and spend more time with his kids. He continued to play with us while we were looking for a new drummer. We tried several guys for a while and then John said “Hey I’ve got a guy you’ve gotta hear.” He gave us Richard’s number and now he’s been with us for over a year now. It’s been kind of a continuation of the change that we were always looking for anyway. It’s also boiled down to the fact that the core of the band is smaller. I mean it’s still a band, but Ed and I have taken on more of the decision making. Before it had been a 5 or 6 man democracy and now Ed and I are driving the ship a little more. It’s been great. Everybody has enjoyed a renewed sense focus and sense of purpose. Everybody is driving toward the same thing.

HMR- I noticed that you and Ed shared writing credit on all of the songs on “Sunday Morning Record” Do you feel a tighter bond as a duo?

GQ- Yeah, I think that the way the band has morphed has kind of whittled us. We are the two remaining guys of the song writing team. We push each other and hold each other accountable. We also have found a voice together that is kind of unique as compared to how the band used to sound. It used to be very much of a three or four part harmony most of the time around all of the choruses. That was kind of the sound of the band. We still do a lot of the harmony, especially in the live shows, but on this record, Ed and I have found a voice singing a lot of the parts in unison and then splitting off into harmony from the unison. We’re kind of finding our way as we sing more and more together, just the two of us. It’s kind of nice finding a new voice.

HMR- I know that you and Ed shared credit on a number of songs on the earlier records. I always looked at you guys kind of like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. You know, Stills was doing his thing and Young was doing his thing, but after the quad broke down there was still a Crosby and Nash. I thought I saw a parallel there.

GQ- Yeah, I think that’s fair.

HMR- I enjoyed the more prominent keyboards since the addition of Trevor Nealon to the line-up. How long has he been in the picture?

GQ- I would say, maybe around four years. He played quite a bit on “One Foot in the Ether” and “Top Hat Crown”, the last two studio records. He’s been touring with us, starting in 2009, while he was still playing in some other bands as well. He came on more full time at the end of 2009 or early 2010. He’s an old friend of mine. We played in another band during college for about 5 years. We both moved to Austin together with a band and then that band broke up and he joined another band and moved away. I stayed in Austin and we formed the Heathens and then he would play with us when we were touring in the mountains where he was living.

HMR- Was he in Arizona when he moved away?

GQ- He was in Park City, Utah.

HMR- I think I met him the first time that I saw you guys in, maybe, 2007 at Gruene Hall.

GQ- Yep. Very possible.

ImageHMR- I bought your CD and all of you guys signed it and I asked him to sign it. He said ”I’m not on that CD” and I said “Sign it anyway” and so he did. Nice guy.

GQ- He’s a great friend. I’ve known him longer than any of the other guys in the band. He was in my wedding. He’s one of my best friends in the world.

HMR- Final question and then I’ll let you return to your normal life. How do you view solo projects for you and Ed going forward?

GQ- Honestly, I don’t know that there is any time for them right now. As the album cycle continues, I don’t think there would be anybody that would be opposed to that if there was time for it, if things slowed down or something with the band. Right now everybody is full throttle for the band and already talking about getting together for another band record. I’m not sure it would happen any time soon, but there are some side projects. Trevor has another band that he plays with sometimes and our drummer plays with other bands around town. We have a rotating cast of bass players, right now, playing with us. Scott Davis, our bass player, right now, spends most of his time playing with Hayes Carll. Our touring is clumped together in weeks at a time when we are working and then there are times we set aside when we are not working. I guess there are times that we could be doing other projects, but honestly right now we are working so hard on this I don’t know how realistic that would be. Maybe if we were 20 years old and not married and didn’t have kids we could consider some other projects, but when we aren’t working with the band we are spending time with our families and enjoying being dads and husbands.

HMR- As it should be.

GQ- But anything is possible.