On Their Way: The Head and the Heart and the Rumors

The Head and 
the Heart plays 
a July show at 
the cozy Comet Tavern, likely for 
the last time.

Guessing what the Head and the Heart will do next has become the most persistent parlor game in Seattle club land of late. The six-piece Americana group has become the city’s hottest unclaimed commodity since Robin Pecknold’s Fleet Foxes emerged in 2008, and rumors, replete with big record label names, big money and big question marks, are flying. The only thing that can be said with any certainty is that the Head and the Heart, which has been together for only a year, is well on its way to becoming Seattle’s next hugely popular musical export.

Seemingly incapable of saying “no,” the band has played almost all of the many shows it has been offered in the last two months and has, uniformly, blown any other bands on the bill out of the water. By the time this magazine hits the streets, the band will have played two nights at the Paramount Theatre, opening for wildly popular indie pop group Vampire Weekend in front of a sellout crowd of 2,800 each night.

Following its recent Music-festNW appearance, the bandmates sat at a bar in southeast Portland, talking about when, exactly, everything started 
to change.

Charity Thielen, the violin player, one of three singers and the only woman in the band, was the first to venture a guess.

“I think the first sign we had that something special was happening was when we went to Salt Lake City to open a record-release show for a friend’s band.” Having just finished recording its debut album, the Head and the Heart had yet to actually press it. Still, they brought a box of burned CD-R copies to sell for five bucks each. The band sold twenty-six of them, far more than the headliner. Since coming out in June, that self-released album has never dropped below number four on East Street Records' top-seller list. The band sold sixty-five copies at a recent Tractor Tavern show – 20 percent of the venue's capacity – on a night they weren't even headlining.

It’s a promising beginning. But what will the Head and the Heart be doing with all that promise?

For the most part, the band is keeping its lips sealed. Josiah Johnson, singer, guitarist and tambourine man, is willing to say on the record that the band recently took a big step by signing on with Ali Hedrick, the Billions Corporation booking agent responsible for an impressive stable of artists including A. C. Newman, Crooked Fingers and Neko Case. It was Hedrick who put the band in the Paramount, and it is she who will start saying “no” to shows so the band doesn’t have to. •



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