Concert Spotlight: The Head and the Heart

Putting a Pulse in The Surf Lodge Concert Series

Montauk getaway The Surf Lodge returns with its summer concert series Memorial Day weekend. Indie-folk band The Head and the Heart made the cut playing June 4 (following Sir the Baptist), stopping by the beach during a season where they’re flexing some serious touring muscle as a major force at this year’s Governors Ball, Coachella, Bonnaroo, Hangout Festival,and Sasquatch!

The Seattle-based six-piece led by vocalist/guitarist Jonathan Russell, vocalist/violinist/banjo player Charity Rose Thielen, her husband singer Matt Gervais (filling in for Josiah Johnson, now on hiatus), bassist Chris Zasche, pianist Kenny Hensley, and drummer Tyler Williams regrouped after some much-needed time off. They wrote their new album Signs of Light, and the result is a collection of bright, breezy, and uplifting songs like the optimistic “Turn It Around,” the free-flowing sing-a-long “Rhythm & Blues,” and the infectious lead track “All We Ever Know.”

Drummer Tyler Williams brought Hamptons Monthly up to speed on the band’s time off, spending last summer by the beach just north of San Francisco writing their new record, and talked about the appeal of outdoor shows in places like The Hamptons…

The band took a break after several years of touring. How was it coming back together after having completely different life experiences?

It was really refreshing just because we spent so much time together and you feel like a family, you have so many shared experiences that nothing feels new anymore. We searched out new experiences, just lived life really. When we came back together, it was like a glowy, beautiful time.

Your music has always felt effortless, free-spirited, and that is no different on new album Signs of Light. The Hamptons are a wonderful escape from the noise of the city. You have many outdoor shows this summer. What do you think will be most enjoyable about playing an open-air show at Surf Lodge in Montauk?

I mean what doesn’t sound enjoyable about that? I think Jon was able to do a solo show there maybe about two years ago, and he always raves about it. Playing outdoors is sort of where music lives. I’m definitely cool with a beach vibe in the summer. We do have a lot of outdoor shows this summer, but none that have such an intimate feel. All the smaller shows have such a different energy. You can have a much deeper connection with the crowd. It’s a little more intimidating, but maybe the open air will ease that—like, it’s very zen.

“If someone is at the show, just come up and say hello and we’ll buy you a beer.” – Tyler Williams 

“I Don’t Mind” and “Colors” are really bright songs on this album. If you were to choose a five-song playlist to listen to this summer while on the beach or driving cross-country on tour, what would those tunes be?

I really have been enjoying the new Spoon record; there’s a song called “Hot Thoughts” that I think is kind of perfect for a little summer playlist. I’ll pick one of ours, “City of Angels;” it’s just a nice, breezy summer tune. If you have a convertible you should put the top down for that one. My friend Lucy Dacus has a song called “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore.” Whitney’s “No Woman;” they opened for us a couple months ago. I’d put the new The National song that just came out yesterday, “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness.”

What’s a summer memory you have of The Head and the Heart?

My favorite summer memory with the band was when we were writing the new record in Stinson Beach, about an hour north of San Francisco. It’s amazing. We reconvened there and had an amazing week at a studio on the glowing cliff side overlooking the beach. It really affected our record and it kind of felt magical. We heard about the studio from My Morning Jacket.

As a band, do you see yourselves connecting with the Montauk vibe and crowd given your casual, Bohemian style?

Yeah, I’d hope so. We’re pretty chill bros. We kind of, you know we’re not too precious, we kind of just like to honestly express ourselves in whatever song we write in whichever way we do it. I think we’re fairly relatable people. If someone is at the show, just come up and say hello and we’ll buy you a beer.