Band of Heathens talk ‘Duende’, Their Travels, and All Things Rock-N-Roll (Interview)

It’s been three long years, but now Band of Heathens returns to the spotlight with the release of their new record “Duende”.

Undoubtably, there is no better place to experience a band than in the the comfort of their hometown and an addition to that, no better place to conduct an interview than one of the starting dates of their upcoming tour. Thursday night, we were able to sit down with the two founding members and talk about Duende, their travels, and all things rock-n-roll.

It was 5:30 when I arrived at the Austin’s Mohawk. Walking in, I was greeted by several friendly faces and hands before a formal introduction to Ed Jurdi and Gordi Quist; lead vocals and guitar for the Austin band. Their southern hospitality glowed as I reached my palm out and made my own introduction.

We scaled a few sets of steps and found ourselves a quiet, little oasis away from the sound checks and background noises of fans entering the venue. We grabbed a corner seat, exchanged smiles, and proceed on.

So, How’s it feel to be in Austin Again?

Gordy: It’s nice, it’s been a long couple months. It’s good to have a home town show.

It’s been 3 years, right, since you last album?

Gordy: Since the last album, yeah.

And do you believe this is your best album yet?

Gordy: I think so. We always kinda think that when we make it. If we didn’t think that, we’d probably keep working on it. Ya know, you’re always trying to out do what you did before. I think we definitely made some new discoveries.

I love the title you chose. It’s awfully beautiful. Who came up with it?

Ed: We talked about it for a while. It kind of became a mission statement working with the record. We tried to dig down as deep as we could and find our purpose. We were just really trying to find where we’re going.

You think one word was enough to define it all?

Ed: Well, with anything else, that was a good compass. You start following the trail and it does different things. It was just a good jumping off point.

You’ve been through many line-up changes. Do you feel that has effected your sound at all?

Gordy: Yeah, the line-up changes happened 4-5 year ago. This band has been going as this unit for awhile now. But yes, definitely. Everyones personality of the band shapes the band. So when that changes, there is always a shift. But this band, for the past few years, has been honing in on the sound we have now.

Do you think this is the sound you’re set with for the future?

Ed: I’m not sure. I think it’s a good template to work from as a starting point. I don’t think we have ever set on anything as being a sound. It all comes down to the song. Whenever the songs comes in, it kinda dictates what happens.

Do you all contribute to songwriting?

Ed: Yeah, some of that. Some stuff is the whole band, and some stuff is more individually based. It’s a little bit of all the piles.

Do you have a favorite song?

Ed: Ummmm, I don’t really. We sort of make the records as albums. We look at them as a whole piece. If we take anything out of it, it would make it a different experience.

Gordy: Yah, it’s like if someone told you to pick your favorite child. It would be impossible, right? (laughs) Maybe not. They’re all cool in different ways. All the songs have a special place on the record.

Ya’ll have been abroad a couple times, do you get as big of an audience out there?

Ed: Yeah, it’s nice. It’s a totally different vibe over there. The people are quite a bit, more reserved. But audiences are really nice and respectful. They have great listening crowds in Europe.

Do you have a favorite place?

Ed: Amsterdam. It’s just an amazing city; It just the right size. It’s not too big, it’s not too small. You can navigate around it on foot, on a bicycle or on public transportation. The restaurants are great, there are great cafes, and museums are amazing.

Just the people. The people are very friendly and contribute a pleasant vibe to the city.

Over the years, we’ve probably spent a couple weeks there in total and always enjoyed it.

If you never did music, do you know where you’d end up?

Ed: Thats a good question. (takes a moment to ponder) Um, I honestly have never thought about it too often because I haven’t done anything else. At a young age, I knew this is what I wanted to do.

Gordy: I never had a false sense of security in whatever I was doing. There are always what ifs, but our mentality isn’t like that.

Anything you’d like to add?

Ed: I think we’re just really excited about this record and excited about playing this music with people. The band is in a really good spot right now.

Fast forwarding a few hours later, Band of Heathens sauntered on stage as cheers of delight exhaled through the voices of eager, Texan fans. The evening soundtrack was full of tunes from new and past albums; Debuting everything from “L.A Country Blues” from ‘One Foot In The Ether’ to ‘Hurricane’ from ‘Top Hat Crown & The Clapmasters’ to tunes from their new record like ‘Trouble Came Early’ and ‘All I’m Asking’. With each shift of song and vibe shadowed from the melody, the crowd transitioned back and forth from dancing to softly embracing.

The band continues on their tour performing a few more Texas dates before embarking up north and eventually traveling over to our neighbors across the pond.