Q & A with The Head and the Heart

Elizabeth Beilman

Vocally-driven folk group The Head and the Heart has catapulted into fame virtually out of thin air within the past two years, predominantly through a from-the-ground approach. The Seattle natives sold 10,000 copies of their self-titled album through word of mouth alone.

The Herald talked with Josiah Johnson, one of two lead singers and guitarists, about touring internationally, performing for the president and their upcoming sold-out shows in Nashville March 24 and 26.

Q:  Your popularity has largely at the beginning been through word of mouth. How has that affected your career? Has social media played a large role in that?

A:  The cool thing about social media for bands is that you can actually communicate with your fans rather than having a barrier where the band is put on this pedestal. It’s been one of those things that people have really appreciated—us being accessible, and I think that’s made for fans that have been really loyal to us.

Q:  You just performed for President Obama at the Victory Fund Lunch. What was that like?

A:  I think that was pretty surreal. Just a year and a half before that, we had released our record by ourselves, and then to have that was this crazy milestone that just signified to me how far we’ve come in such a short period of time.

Q:  You just recently returned from an international tour in with My Morning Jacket. What was playing internationally like?

A:  My Morning Jacket’s crowds are just kind of great in general — the kind people that like their music are just kind of cool, so that was a lot of fun. The crowds in Europe in general are a little less apt to dance around and have fun — they are a little more reserved. Of all the tours we’ve done in Europe, that one was the most fun crowds that we’ve had.

Q:  You collaborated with them on their holiday EP. What was it like working with them?

A:  It was kind of cool to watch another band, especially one that’s put out so many albums and have had time to grow and learn how to be in the studio, to kind of get to look in on them a little bit ‘cause we’ve only done it once and still have a whole lot of room to grow in terms of how we record.

Q:  Why do you have two shows in Nashville?

A:  It’s not a place where we’d ever headlined, so we didn’t really know what to expect, but all of the sudden it sold out really quickly. It was one of the first shows on the tour to sell out. We were like ‘Oh wow, more people in Nashville know about us than we thought.’ It kind of would be a bummer to go there if all those people wanna see us to only get to play the one show.

Q:  What can fans expect when coming to one of your shows?

A:  We’re having fun on stage, and the audience has fun back, and that energy goes in this loop and feeds each other. There’s a connection there and an energy that I really like.

Q:  You have received a lot of attention for you album. What are your plans for 2012?

A:  We don’t have any set times. Our goal for this year is to get all the songs written for it (next album). We have four songs that we’ve worked out in the last week that we’ll be playing in addition to the songs on the album. That’s kind of one of the things that helps our writing process, is getting out and playing new songs live and seeing how they feel in that environment.