The Heartlanders
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The Heartlanders

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | INDIE

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | INDIE
Band Folk Alternative


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Show Preview & Interview - The Athens News"

A Cincinnati-based indie-folk-rock band that has some Athens roots performs for the first time in Athens Saturday at Donkey Coffee.

Comprised of Chris Sutton and Ohio University alum Christman Hersha, The Heartlanders released their first full-length album, "On the Roam," last year.
"The theme is home and traveling around," said Sutton, vocalist and guitarist. "Every song is about that. We try to be sincere. Some are individual accounts, but the rest are about us and where we're going."

Their live performances usually fall into one of two categories: "an intimate, sincere show" or "a foot-stomping, high-energy show," depending on the venue and whether they invite other musicians to perform, said Hersha, who on top of vocals plays the piano, guitar and bass.

When he lived in Athens, Hersha fronted the highly respected local rock band, The Story Of.

The Heartlanders sometimes enlist a cello or fiddle player for live performances, and they also incorporate video in some shows.

"In this particular show we'll have a lot of coinciding visuals," Hersha said.

Both musicians said they're excited to perform in Athens, but for different reasons. Hersha will be returning to his college town, but Sutton is planning to explore the area.

"So many awesome memories," Hersha said. "The food is amazing. I can't wait to go to Casa! And Stroud's we can't wait to go."

Sutton will be getting a glimpse of a different part of the state.

"I'm new to the Ohio area, and I'm excited to see more parts of the countryside," Sutton said. "And I've heard from Christman that the Donkey is a great place to perform."

The Heartlanders are planning to host their own event at the end of the summer in Cincinnati, and may tack on a couple coffeehouse shows, too. They will also start tracking their new album, which will incorporate more upright bass. It's slated for release in the fall or winter later this year.

In the future, Sutton said he hopes to write more songs about the lives and struggles of ordinary Americans.

"I'd like to write mores songs about the untold life, like those of the American farmers," Sutton said. "Not downer, political songs, but people struggling in the heartland." - Athens News

"Interview in"

Since moving home to Ohio from Austin, Texas, Christman Hersha has made the switch from the synthesized ballads of his former band The Story Of, to the “powerful minimalism” of bluegrass and folk. And with the help of Heartlanders member Chris Sutton, he’s been rediscovering his love of music and taking inspiration from the landscape of Ohio.

In fact, Hersha, who studied music production at Ohio University, has gone so far as to record the band playing out in the woods, under bridges, in old houses and their garden.

You were originally in The Story Of, a band that had some success when it moved from Ohio to Austin. Now you're back in Ohio with a completely different type of musical project. Can you tell me a little bit about that journey?
We decided that we wanted a little bit of an adventure. I don’t want to look back and be like, "That was a bad decision," because I really enjoyed Austin, and all of us did. But it was really difficult being there, because it’s not entirely our scene, you know, at least with that band and especially nowadays.

Austin is very image-based, especially as far as the music that comes out of there. It was a little hard for us, because I guess we’re all kind of reserved and dorky, so it was kind of a challenge to fit in to that.

Kind of the reason that we stopped playing is because we got hooked up with some management that helped us out and got us some really great opportunities, but they were kind of pigeonholing us into this scene that we weren’t quite comfortable with.

What kind of scene was that?
I don’t know, I’m trying to figure out how to articulate it. You know, we would play these shows and do some of these bigger festivals, you know, Red Bull and South By (Southwest). Those were great and everything, and our manager was really cool. But her connections were the California connections, so she’d always want us to go network with these bigwigs of this and that, but these basically weren’t our people. They weren’t kind-hearted or sincere.

So it would be like, “Hey come to this after-party at 3 a.m. to network or whatever or you won’t be able to play this festival or this or that.” It kind of turned us off to the whole thing, because it seemed like opportunities in this scene were not based on merit, but on how willing you are to kiss somebody’s butt.

You know, I don’t delude myself into thinking that being in the music world that’s not always part of it. The whole thing is a game and a kind of performance in a lot of ways of speaking. But as far as the bands we were hooking up with and the other musicians, they weren’t bands that we would typically listen to or would excite us creatively. So it felt like we were in a downward spiral and getting burned out. Alex (Huff), the other song writer in The Story Of along with me, we both kind of had been working on our own stuff. We played this show in Colorado, and I called Alex up—we still have a good friendship—but it was just kind of like, "Let’s pull the plug on this.” At this point I was going back and forth from Ohio to Austin. They were flying me down for shows. (My wife is up here getting a grad degree at Miami….and we needed a change from Austin.)

So I started writing songs—I guess you can call them Heartlander songs—in that time when it was one foot in Austin and one foot in Ohio. I had a lot of connections down there through The Story Of, like people at press outlets, and our manager was still really cool with hooking me up with people. So once I formally decided to stay in Ohio, I met this dude Chris. He’s a total sweetheart and a great guy. He’s from Washington, and I’d played with several musicians from Cincinnati, but didn’t find a common ground with them, but then I met up with Chris.

How did the two of you meet?
It’s kind of funny. I played flag football—you don’t really think of musicians doing sports, but I decided that it would be fun, because a couple of people I hadn’t seen were playing and it was co-ed too, so it wasn’t really intense. But one of the dudes on the team, his brother was Chris. He moved here—he was actually doing farming in Mexico and doing stuff all over the place. You know, he’s a little younger than me, but he’s got so much life experience—it’s funny—he seems older than me.

Pete, the percussionist, the guy on the football team was like, "Hey, my brother is trying to meet some people, he doesn’t really know anyone in Cincinnati yet.” So he introduced us and it just worked out. We’ve been going at it pretty hard since then.

Can you tell me a little bit about how Ohio and Appalachia influences you?
Oh yeah. We kind of brought that down with us into Texas (with The Story Of), being as most of us grew up in that region—either Southeastern or Southwestern Ohio. Myself, I grew up in this area. I guess a lot of the cultural elements, the way musicians and artists approach their work seems to be unique to the area.

I think that’s probably why Austin didn’t fit me, or any of us in The Story Of, because the motivations are just different down there. I don’t want to generalize the artists in Austin (because most of them are not from there). But as far as the folk and bluegrass stuff, which I obviously didn’t write much when I was in The Story Of, I wanted to try something new and distance myself from that, because I was soured on it all.

So creatively, I wanted to do something that was more powerfully minimalistic and I’ve always liked bluegrass, so I wanted to try to do that and to migrate over from synthesizers to banjos and slide guitar. Chris was a real blessing in that regard, because he’s very good at that style….He’s kind of new to this area, but he’s definitely heard about Athens and Appalachia and some of the groups that have come out of there like Southeast Engine and stuff.

Obviously the Austin scene really brought you down, did you ever get to a point where you thought, you were done with music all together?
Yeah. I sure did. When Alex and I agreed to set aside The Story Of, we both kind of stopped playing music for a while and had to rediscover what role it was going to play in our lives.

That’s what I like about this project. For one, there not as many cooks in the kitchen to please. I ran The Story Of like a complete communist regime, where everyone’s input was equal. So creatively, that really slowed us down, which is why we would come out with an album every year and a half. So working with less people is fantastic.

But also the motivations, like what we want out of music, have drastically changed, because for one, I don’t think I’m as naïve about the possible outcome. Neither Chris nor I have this delusion of wanting to get rich or famous. That’s absolutely not why we do it.

As far as opportunities for us, the licensing thing has worked out fantastic. We can sit in a wood shed and be introverted and make our own music and people can hear it via that. Obviously, we like to perform for audiences, but that’s just one part of it, and this allows us to pick and choose.

Where can we hear these licensed songs?
We have a few songs with that New Belgian Brewery—they don’t distribute in Ohio, ironically. They’ve licensed a few songs for their commercials. Let’s see, the Discovery Channel in some new documentary series that they used part of a song for. Stuff like that. Most of these aren’t big things like, “Hey featured song!” It’s more like, here’s a twenty second snippet of music and it just happens to be our stuff. And that funds our situation with recording costs and distribution costs. - MetroMix Cincinnati

"Album Review - TRACER Mag"

With a couple of move-ins with a banjo, a slide guitar and a few dozen dreams, it’s clear: On the Roam is an appropriate title for The Heartlanders’ new album.

The Heartlanders are a Cincinnati band transformed from the Austin, TX band The Story Of, but they seem to have left the Texas twang behind them for the folksy pluck that comes from being so close to the Kentucky border.

Some of their work rings of a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and sometimes Young influence, but the deeper the album goes, the broader the influences and sounds go so that a solid inspiraton force is somewhat lost. The album starts out with the character of street musicians on their cardboard stage. “Glorianna” and “Aerosols” attempt to engage passersby to toss a quarter their way, or maybe, just maybe, stop for a listen. However, once the sound is pinned down, Christman Hersa and Chris Sutton twist the dusty roadside stories into upbeat jamboree ditties with a message fit for a small town to relate to (“Defiance,” “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”), or soulful waltzes about pessimism and hard knocks (“The Letting Go”). The album is full of songs about down-on-their-luck subjects who just want to catch a break, and the random hopeful mind who accepts his fate and sways along to the life he was given (“Two Bottles”).

The simplicity of a brush snare beat and an acoustic guitar is definitely appreciated in On the Roam, but The Heartlanders are not about to hold back from small inner-complexities of a slide guitar or just the airy whine or groan of a standard electric guitar. “No Bettin’ Man” is a wrench in the smooth roll of the easy harmonies and acoustic guitar that riddle the album, but the song still clings to the whole message, evidence that a song that sounds nothing like the rest of the album (actually, it sounds like it was plucked from an Old 97s demo) can still fit right in.

“The Great Pacific” is a low point, with less of the soul of “The Letting Go” and more of a plodding, time-filling round toward the end than an addition to the artistic value of the album. The lullaby “Mexico” is the album’s sign off, as if the cardboard kings of the street corner are ending for the night to find their next gig. Hopefully, with the genuine emotion and endearing style the band and the album exudes, the next gig will be soon, with plenty of passersby too enticed to keep walking.

- Susan Tebben - Tracer Magazine, Cincinnati

"Album Review- the Philler"

The Story Of
"Foothill Highway Appalachian Road"

Although the.story.of has relocated to Austin, Texas since the release of their last album Trust in Amanita, the bands latest release, Foothill Highway Appalachian Road, remains true to their original sound as created in Athens, Ohio. With an average track length over 5.6 minutes, they continue to show a preference towards a fully developed composition and technical ability. While the length of the opening and closing tracks – “Animals Can Reason” and “Our Lobe Loop” respectively – are obvious nods to their progressive influence, they are far from the only instances of the genre’s impact on the band.

Aided by Christman Hersha’s keyboard, excellent distorted guitar tone, and electronic effects, Foothill Highway Appalachian Road maintains an epic and somewhat futuristic tone. The tracks fully showcase the.story.of’s compositional abilities as they evolve over a course of layered melodies and transitions executed by the band members’ obvious skill with their instruments. Hersha along with guitarists Alex Huff and David McCully demonstrate Bach-like precision during select segments as drummer Jonathan Gibbs and bassist Jeremy Gordon lock down the rhythmic attacks.

Hersha’s lyrics, while not of any direct fantastic nature on paper, approach it when presented in his light, somewhat fragmented style. The delivery carries an impression of floating/flying that pairs well with the recurring theme of travel/journey presented throughout Foothill Highway Appalachian Road, most notably on the cover of Enya’s “Orinoco Flow”.

The album offers a unique musical experience for those open to it. While I may have focused primarily on the progressive influence, Foothill Highway Appalachian Road is a rather effective blend of the group’s varied tastes. One can only hope that more bands will begin to appreciate the world outside of simple verse/chorus/verse and take a similar journey.

-PhiLL Ramey
- The Phill(er)

"Austin Chronicle TCB"

With their emotive hybrid of Britpop, the Postal Service, and, oh yeah, metal, The Story Of didn't come quite as far, but bassist Jeremy Gordon says the quintet's move from Athens, Ohio, nine months ago has been similarly fruitful. Already gigging at Spider House, Hole in the Wall, Flamingo Cantina, and May 7 at Graffiti's on the northside (where they'll give away copies of new EP Foothill Highway Appalachian Road), they're settling in nicely. "Our gigs are getting progressively more where I want them to be," Gordon says. "We're getting to meet a lot of people in town here who are more up our alley."

-Chris Gray - The Austin Chronicle

"Smother Editors Pick"

the.story.of - Foothill Highway Appalacian Road

Following up to the successful and critically acclaimed “Trust In Amanita” would be a singular difficult task but the.story.of does so with ease. If you’ve been reading Smother.Net for a while, you’ll remember the heaving of praise we unleashed upon their previous release. Consider that praise to continue on this dynamic art rock adventure that lustfully explores the dynamics of electronica while keeping true to their indie rock roots. Who would have thought that you could combine melodic vocals, electronic bleeps and beats, indie rock’s traditional sound, with screams and hard edginess? Surprise, surprise, they’re now located in the amazing music scene of Austin, Texas, that makes one wonder what exactly is in the water down there? Just as I urged you to purchase their last album, I must insist that you grab this one up as well.

-J-Sin - Smother

"The Onion AV Club"

Recent Austin transplants The Story Of turned some heads in 2005 with the Foothill Highway Appalachian Road, a spacey blend of Postal Service-like electronics and art-rock quirkiness, but for the group's new full-length 'The World's Affair', the band apparently took its cues from Out of the Blue-era ELO and aimed for the rafters rather than the coffeehouse. The passionate Affair adds bouncy piano, brass licks, and even a children's choir to its scattershot bursts of joyous pop, while the lyrics tackle downer political issues with refreshing 'Up with People" optimism. For its CD release show, the Five-piece will feature members of The Noise Revival Orchestra and even a small choir on some songs, making this a can't-miss show for lovers of unabashed pomp (with a little bit of circumstance). - the Onion

"Review- Austin Sound"

Let’s face it, transitioning from the summer to the fall can be tricky for the avid music listener. The upbeat, dance-worthy sounds that matched up so nicely with the pretty summer days no longer feel as desirable. That doesn’t necessarily mean everyone is ready to bundle up and spend the coming months with mixtapes that consist of moody artists, but there is a need deep down for something to provide sounds that are more appropriate. With that being said, The Story Of’s The World’s Affair is seemingly the album to help with such a thing. Its sound is expansive, almost to the brink of epic, and its songwriting is accessible in a way that defines fall weather; colorful and different.

The two tracks that lead off the album, “EMT” and “After Just Awhile,” move with the kind of big, confident swagger that all rock acts should carry, but instead of plodding along at one pace the band infuses little sections of inspired vocals that bring the songs to life and make them stand out from the rest. “Pinwheel” avoids standard indie rock characteristics and instead ventures into a neat mix of ballad and a more elaborate version of something that seems like it belongs on Spoon’s latest effort. “Wonderlust” and “The Privateer” also stray from the norm, but both of them do so by delving into a cauldron of various prog-rock elements that provide a spacious feel. Diverse is clearly an understatement.

Fortunately, taking so many different approaches never puts the band in an awkward place. “Carry The Horizon” could easily be mistaken for an unreleased Jimmy Eat World b-side, which is strange for an album centered more on indie/prog rock, but it sounds as natural as can be. This can also be said for the early-millennium emo rock anthem that is the album closer, “Recall The Winners,” and it’s lyrical choices, which consist of tell-tale lines like “You only care about yourself.”

Granted, if you’re in Austin then you aren’t exactly experiencing cooler temperatures yet. But there is a difference in the air outside, and The Story Of are willing and ready to help make the change of seasons seamless with a record that carries a little something for everyone. Seek it out as soon as possible.
- John Laird - Austin Sound

"Buzzworthy Artist- The Austinist"

What’s the Deal: Not all songs of political protest have to come from a blast of distortion and shrieky vocals or a trembling folkie sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica. Sometimes it can come from the sweetest of indie art-pop harmonies. The Story Of made the move from Appalachia and Ohio to Austin a few years ago, and thankfully, they didn’t bring more mediocre blues rock for the 6th Street bars. They came bearing gifts of dreamy falsetto melodica wisping around a piano, a child choir, experimental sounds and guitar rock, and the group refers to it as ‘panoramic music.’

Their latest album, The World’s Affair, is not only an ambitious project due to its broad and hearty soundscapes, it also seeks to invigorate listeners and encourage them to feel concern for the current political climate. Song titles like “Save Us” and “Armada” illustrate a sense of foreboding and urgency. “The Privateer” hosts some pristine, piano-encapsulated harmonies, but it also has a mechanical, militaristic march to it featuring Interpol-esque vocals. Lighthearted titles like “Wonderlust” throw you for a loop with gloomy, funky synth-pop around the anti-globalization lyrics “It’s my home, dammit/ I won’t give up and let you have it.”

Something Interesting: Comparisons can be easily drawn between them and The Flaming Lips and Death Cab for Cutie, especially in the vocals. The Story Of are having their CD release party at Mohawk on October 12.

Other Tracks Worth Checking Out: “EMT” and “Carry The Horizon” - Austinist

"NPR- Feature", September 25, 2007 - The Story Of writes intelligent, guitar-driven rock that they say is intended to motivate and empower people. Although the band currently lives in Austin, TX, the members hold on to their Appalachian roots in Athens, OH.

The Story Of's fourth album, the World's Affair, ranges from the heavy guitar tones on "EMT" to the delicate, arpeggiating harp on "Save Us". The passionate, melodic vocals push the music to its peak, while the lyrics express their concern over current political issues. Lines such as "after a while / when the guns are in their piles / say goodbye to suffering" from the song "After Just a While" add a hopeful mood to the album.

The group consists of five friends from the Midwest. They say they try to live sustainably and practice a DIY mentality. Keep your eyes open for this art-rock outfit, they are turning some heads. - National Public Radio

"Interview in Unsigned Magazine"

The live music capitol of the world “Austin, TX” has a gem tucked away in its folds. The Story Of has transplanted there from Ohio to try and gain a higher visibility for their band. They went to Ohio University together where three members recieved degrees in audio production. (I can only imagine how that works in the final mix down stages with 3 degreed production people)

Starting out Mike, now bass player, was a sound technician at their first show and from that moment became on of their biggest fans and their regular sound guy. When they moved to Austin, they lost their then bass player and called up good ole Mike who was living in Chicago at the time and working with a different group.

“But I could tell that there was something really special about this bands energy and sound,” says Mike.

After visiting a couple times, the TX sunshine coupled with exposure to the ACL and SXSW festivals won him over as well as his belief in the awesome ability of the group and the rest is becoming a wonderful Story Of. (couldn't help it)

A five man show, the band consists of:

Christman Hersha - Vocals / Keyboards / Programming
Alexander Huff - Vocals / Guitar / Keyboard
David McCully - Guitar
Michael Brennan - Bass
Jonathan Gibbs - Drums

Their latest release The World’s Affair is audio therapy for those of us yearning for artful rock of a different, refreshing, and yet still awesome color. What else can be expected from a group who includes a sample of Mr. Rogers’s congressional appeal on their album and whose lead singer would be a hydra if he could be any mythical creature.

“I'd know the mysteries of the deep ocean... AND dominate the crap out of it. Since I’d have like 50 heads, I could be my own choir and sing killer harmonies off myself. I'd always get to gaze at the best sunsets and snack on delicious ocean treats. Lastly, I could put a foot in the ass of Man... for all of their pollution and destruction of the oceans. I'd be a zealot in that regard. (Ha)” explains Christman.

More powerful than the mighty hydra, in my most humble opinion, is their song writing skills. No predictable chord progressions here, nope no sir, and you won’t find trite lyrics with unconvincing delivery. You’ll have to go visit some other group for that.

The World’s Affair is a conglomerate of observation lyrics, exuberate drum licks, infectious bass and guitar riffs and energetic vocals peppered nicely with an adrenaline raising yell here or there.

Recorded in different stages, The World’s Affair has a wonderfully organic feel to it that makes you feel you are actually at a show with a great sound man and a high quality sound system. Which is difficult to do, just ask any band who kicks butt live and they will tell you it’s not very easy to capture that energy during the recording process.

But I guess this is what 5 degrees in sound production will get ya.

So how did they capture their sound? We’re glad you asked.

“We recorded the drums in my living room,” says Mike. “Cuz its got high ceilings and it’s a nice live room that has a lot of wood and nice reverberation. We recorded the guitars and pianos at different people’s houses. So it took awhile, it was a long process, but after everybody added their parts. We started mixing and spent a good while on that. So we all got our degrees in production at Ohio U and we’re all pretty particular about our production. We wanted to do something more analog more organic feeling. After mixing we went into the band Spoon’s studio and bounced it from the digital realm to the analog on 2 inch tape. We put it through their gear they have a really nice neat console; they have really nice outboard and compression gear.”

The result was a sound that’s more cohesive and all together more thick, full and warm sounding. It was then sent to SAE mastering in Arizona.

Thought provoking do they come up with them? Hey we’re glad you asked!

“We’re all very into politics. In the U.S you need to take a broader scope, you need to look at world politics because the way the media system is in the U.S its so messed up that its all corporate owned and huge corp. monopolies that protect their investments its interest its not always serving the American people and its not always best serving the interests of peace and prosperity of the American people. So you have to look at alternative media sources and world media and how America is being viewed by people in other countries so I think that is where a lot of our lyrics come from. We could use some fixing right now and we’re just trying to do justice to that so that kind of mentality permeates the record,” explains Mike.

So there you have it...the sound of music rocked artfully. And what kind of mythical creatures would the other band members be? Let’s not leave you hangin.

Mike - So, after careful deliberation I have decided that I would like to be a Griffin. That way I could have the best of both worlds. I would be master of both the air and land. Plus, I would look really good made of stone after my mortal life had expired.

Jon – I think I am going to go with the Teumessian fox, a giant fox that couldn’t be caught and eventually it had to be turned to stone. Who needs any other powers when you can't be caught? The world would be my oyster. Ha!

David - If I were to be a mythological creature, I would be a Kelpie. Mainly because I would know the all there is to know about the Loch Ness Monster or "Nessy" as I would call her. - Unsigned Magazine

"Interview in Paradigm Magazine"

The Story Of is the musical collaboration between five friends who banded together in Athens, Ohio. They transplanted their blend of harmonious, layered indie rock to Austin, Texas, where they are currently supporting their first full release, The World’s Affair. The album builds upon the band’s previous releases, Foothill Highway Appalachian Road EP (2004) and Trust in Amanita (2003).

Their lyrics create a portrait of concern regarding the state of our world, while the music and harmony embrace the listener—allowing and inviting them to join The Story Of on their remarkable journey. The Story of has created a work that is made for active listening; listening with an open heart and open mind.

The band has described its sound as “Panoramic” music. Could you explain this concept or idea?
That’s a reference to the wide array of subject matter and musical style we try to bring to the table. We never have been a band that could easily fall into a genre, and it always seemed like the next song was a departure from the last, so our use of the word “panoramic” is our best attempt to put that into words.

Harmonies are a prominent part of the song structure of the band. The song “After Just a While” is reminiscent of a group such as Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Without saying they are an influence, what artists or other factors have contributed to including such prominent harmonies in your work? What other artists have influenced the band’s sound?
The answer to that would certainly be different for each member of the band. I can say as vocalists, both Christman and I are very fond of harmonies, ala the Beatles, Sunny Day Real Estate , etc…But with that said, all of our record collections partially overlap. I think we all have an ear for good music, and some of us “get” the good music of certain genres that others miss, and vice versa. This probably contributes a lot to the panoramic nature we talked about.

The lyrics in The World’s Affair are both political and very poetic. Does your band tend to start with a melody and then develop lyrics around the melody or vice versa, or is it completely free form? Could you share your songwriting process?
I’m not trying to dodge the question, but the process really is different for each song. Each song seems to take a different route to completion, some go right there like they were already written, and others might take us months; having to step away in frustration to gain a new perspective. A lot of our songs come from an idea that one of us has been working on and it gets brought to the band to take the rest of the way. We’ve written songs as a result of some warm-up jam before practice that just gelled and everyone keyed in on it. Back in the old days, Chris and I would sometimes write a song out on paper, conceptually, and then mold the music to fit our idea….that worked and it didn’t…it was fun at least. The lyrics are mostly written by Christman, and his process can change according to how the song is developed. If we have a late-night jam session and a song is brewing, we’ll throw up a room mic, record it, and then maybe Chris will take it home and play with it. He might have some lyrics written down that he will try to fit in place, or free-form a melody first and see what comes out…it’s always different.

Your Appalachian roots and influences seem evident in your band’s work. Could you discuss the influences that Appalachia has had on the band both creatively or politically?
I think the influence of Appalachia wasn’t really definable to us until we left. Before, it was just who we were. We didn’t try and start up some jug band in the hills or anything; we just were reacting to our environment and it really does shape who you are. After coming to Texas, I think we all really could feel that part of us that was missing, and we could feel what it meant to us, and that is what we call our “Appalachian roots." It’s a sensory thing. You smell something that reminds you of a color, that type of thing. We all are very attached to the seasons and the pace of that part of the country, and it's bound to come out in our music…it’s who we are. Having our family and so many friends back home also keeps us very connected.

Has the Austin music scene and experience caused your band’s sound and political and artistic views to evolve? If so, how specifically?
I wouldn’t want to say that the scene down here has changed our music in any way, but I certainly think we have grown as musicians and songwriters since we’ve arrived. Part of that is just natural growth, and part probably has to do with the environment down here. Austin is a very open place, and it embraces individuality, so that is always a good influence on an artistic endeavor. Our political views have evolved a lot since arriving, and that probably has more to do with Austin than our music. Ron Paul is from Texas, Alex Jones lives here, and there are many other organizations and figures that concentrate here that we might not have been exposed to had we not lived in the area. I also think a lot of it has to do with the mentality of what might be called the stereotypical Texan. Texas was its own country before it annexed into the Union, and I believe they are the only state who actually signed a treaty to do so. Not only that, it contains a clause that says we can secede and form 4 different states from within at any time. Not going to happen, but that is a peek into the sense of state affiliation that’s more prevalent here. We also are the only state who can fly the state flag at the same height as the US flag, so watch out! We don’t take kindly to the all-powerful Federal government solving our problems, or the world’s for that matter.

How has Austin, Texas—by all accounts, a lightning rod for the arts—contributed to the current direction of the band?
Really just by existing as a place for our relocation. I mean, there are a few cities that are viable like this in the US right now, and inevitably they suffer from the same saturation, but it’s still better than almost anywhere else, as far as new music is concerned. Music is engrained in the culture down here. There is live music every night of the week, all over town. So as a band, you have an audience here, but you also have much more noise to break through to reach that audience. We came from a town where we could aggressively flier a street or two and that would actually get people to the show. Here, it’s almost obsolete to flier, as you’re just putting fliers on fliers and it gets lost to the average person. We use the Internet a lot for promotion…Austin is a very “wired” city, so it works well.

Is Austin culture versus Appalachia more conducive to “living the life of an artist”? How, specifically?
We all were students in Ohio, so it was a lot easier “living the life” because it wasn’t real life in that sense. Not to say it wasn’t real and what happened during that time wasn’t real, but here we all have day jobs to pay rent and eat…I think it just motivates us more to get off our asses and get things done. Some say suffering is the basis of all good art, and if that’s true, I think we are much closer to that element down here than when we were pampered college kids.

The band mentions a DIY approach and its efforts to be self-sustainable artists. Describe this approach and how it relates to the process of making music.
DIY is really a term that gets over-used, and maybe we are guilty of that as well, but all it really means is that we are doing this all on our own. Everything that gets done is done by us (or by a close friend as a favor for which we are eternally grateful.) We design and screen print our own shirts and fliers, we book all our own shows, we record our own music, we publish and distribute our own records through our own label: Leroy Godspeed records, and we get press for ourselves…so, you could say we are forced to take the “do-it-ourselves” approach from necessity.

How does this philosophy inform the forward direction of the band?
Well, I think we all really look forward to the day when we can off-load a lot of that to a professional, and we can concentrate more on just the music. That is our ultimate goal really, not to lose the creative control of what we care about, but have someone take care of the rest of the “business” of music…it’s just how it is right now.

The World’s Affair is an intense and complete work, encompassing a vast range of sounds and poignant lyrics. Tell us about the experience of making this album.
Thanks for the compliment, certainly. The making of this record started in November ‘06 and wrapped up around April ’07. During that time we recorded all the different instruments and parts all over town, mostly in our own or friends houses. It was a learning process, for sure, and I think we all got closer because if it. This is our first full length record, and we all had a lot of expectations and preconceived notions as to exactly how we wanted it to sound, and how we wanted to record it, so that was a process in itself, just establishing boundaries and allowing each musician to control their own environment and make the ultimate decisions. I don’t know man, I’m personally glad it’s finished and look forward to the next record, but that’s just how I am, and we each feel differently I’m sure. I feel like we have been sitting on this record since we came to Austin (even though many of the songs weren’t written until we got here). We needed this to establish ourselves and show what we’ve been doing for the last few years, and it’s been a great thing for us, seeing this through.

Few people could listen to The World’s Affair without feeling the band’s concern regarding the current state of the world. How do you think your fan base is affected by the political nature of your music?
Well, I try not to think about it that much really. Obviously, we are saying what we want to say, and censoring yourself in art is, although tempting, about the dumbest mistake you can make, so we just have to let it ride. Obviously, if we can reach people and motivate or energize people with what we are saying, that is very gratifying for us, but it doesn’t drive what we do anymore than if we got a lot of negative feedback based on the politics, and that drove us to conform or mellow out. We are all very angry right now at the state of affairs and there is not much more you can think about when you learn what is going on, so it has consumed us in a way. We still try to stay balanced and enjoy life, but really, when you think about it all, it can be too much, so us expressing that through music is the least we can do, and completely natural.

What has been the reaction, either positive or negative, to the political tone of the album?
Mostly all positive, for sure. We haven’t reached a large enough audience to have that much kick-back, since like-minded people travel in the same circles. But so far, mostly all positive. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that there are more and more Americans waking up to how pathetically corrupt and Constitutionally eroded our country has become, especially since the military-industrial complex has dominated Washington. Couple that with all the other special interest groups that are harmful to the people at large, but good for corporations, and you have a problem. Our only hope is that complacency and fear don’t stop the peaceful revolution that is so badly needed right now…I think Ron Paul can be that change, so vote for him if you like pizza and puppies.

Has a song ever been written in direct response to a certain political agenda or media headline? If so, how specifically did that process differ from a normal session?
Not really, no. There are certainly songs that are closer to that scenario than others, but they all have more of a universal vibe than a comment on a specific headline. An example would be the song “Pinwheel”, which is a commentary on the mainstream media in the US and how that shapes, as an agenda, the way the masses think. Now that may have been heavily influenced by a certain story or topic that is being particularly mishandled and misinformed by the mainstream media, but I think the song is still a commentary on the phenomenon itself, since that is the real issue at hand.

Tell us a little about your upcoming radio promotion with Team Clermont. Are there specific dates and radio stations involved? Do you hope this event will provide more national exposure and help to develop a broader fan base?
Well, that has been a huge boost for us, honestly. Essentially it gets our music out to a national audience, better than we could ever do ourselves. They have a reputation in the industry and when they send a station an album, it gets played. We applied for their assistance and they accepted, which was a long shot to begin with, so we’re very grateful. Once the stations start playing the album, it really is out of our hands and I suppose we’ll find out how people will respond. Ultimately though, it’s just one more brick in the wall, and we try to do everything we can to get this music out. It really doesn’t change our approach in the short term, but it could lead to something in the future…time will tell I guess - Paradigm Magazine- Rain Farm Press


"Gentleman Cowboy" [Summer 2012]
"Rumble Under My Feet Single" [2011]
"Theotokos Single" [2010]
"On The Roam" [2010]
"The Cattywompus EP" [2009]



It's in rural southwestern Ohio where THE HEARTLANDERS make their own kind of folk tunes. Uplifting and thoughtful, they call their music 'panoramic’ because of its big-sky vocal melodies and wide range of instrumentation. Although they employ the sounds of everything from pianos and cellos to pipe organs and banjos, the staple behind their sound is a folk guitar and a moving lyric. With a subtle throwback to Johnny Cash or John Prine -- their music often has a sincere narrative and a heartfelt delivery. They twist that all up into an eclectic array of Americana songs with classic hooks and foot-stomping energy.

'The Austinist' writes this about their songwriting, "Their sound is expansive, almost to the brink of epic, and the song writing is accessible in a way that defines fall weather; colorful and different".

At the root, THE HEARTLANDERS are two fellas - Chris Sutton & Christman Hersha. Both long-time song-smiths and singers, they’ve had their share of dusty road tours & musical experiences. Sutton, living in rural Washington, performed his brand of ballads from the Cascades all the way down to Mexico where he set up musical residency. Hersha, starting out in Appalachia made his way to the southern town of Austin, Texas. There, he toured and performed nationally with an established indie rock outfit called ‘The Story Of’. It wasn’t until 2009 when the two returned to the heartland and met on a kind fall day in southwest Ohio. Not long after, they discovered a kindred spirit and shared love for tall-tales and musical storytelling. Soon albums began to take shape, including their 3rd and most recent work - an inspired full-length called ‘ON THE ROAM’.

They have since garnered a reputation for their captivating performances and entertaining stage shows. This has landed them spots on national indie and folk festivals (SXSW, CMJ, Midpoint) Their sets range from the intimate & mellow, to the raucous & rowdy. The constant, however, is their obvious stage chemistry and whimsical way of singing their tales. The boys have had their tunes placed with MTV2, Discovery Channel, NPR, New Belgium Brewery, and two independent films.

Among their influences are: The Avett Brothers, Josh Ritter, My Morning Jacket, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Band of Horses, Ray LaMontagne, Iron & Wine, Mumford & Sons, Sufjan Stevens...