This band has come to mean so much to me and Damien, and to our community in Seattle. However, as their appearance on Conan last night FURTHER proves, they don’t belong to just this city any more. This year has already been busy for them, and there are summer tours around the world with the Decemberists and Death Cab yet to come.
I first saw them play in early March of 2010. Dianna and I were watching Pearly Gate Music at the Seattle SXSW sendoff show in Ballard. She suggested we see her friend from work play down the street, and I hemmed and hawed. I didn’t want to leave the Tractor, and the chance that her ‘cute co-worker’s new band’ would be any good was slim. We paid $12 at the door, which I thought was steep for a mid week show at Conor Byrne. Two songs in, I realized I would’ve paid even more. Though the band was new to me, they weren’t to the fans packed at the front of the stage, singing along at top volume. I was swept up in the stomping and harmonies on the very first listen. I turned to Dianna and asked, “Do you think they’d let me take their pictures?”
I quickly realized the band traveled with a HOST of talented photographers, and I was too shy & intimidated to ask them. Photos aside, I loved getting to know them & their music.
Fast forward a few months, to the week their self released album came out. We were in San Diego with the Saint Bartlett band, and I got a text from Sound on the Sound co-founder Abbey Simmons telling me the Head & the Heart had the #1 selling album at Sonic Boom. Everyone on the patio at the Casbah sat and thought about that, wondered how it was even possible for such a young band. When we were home, Damien began attending the open mic night at Conor Byrne on Sundays, and became inspired by all the talent he found there. Success continued rapidly for the band, all of which is better documented elsewhere than I could do here. We shook our heads in awe of how fast it happened, but I believe it speaks volumes about the Head & the Heart’s universal appeal. Well, perhaps just shy of universal, given Pitchfork’s lack of appreciation. But the masses have spoken, and they love this band.
In the calm before the storm, which is how I now perceive December, the band asked if I could spend a day at home documenting them. We did just that – no staging, no wardrobe, no posing, no plans. I just tried to stay invisible and keep Damien out of the shots and worried that I hadn’t been able to shoot ‘enough’. Given the talented folks who have taken their photo in the past, it is a bit overwhelming to approach. In the end, I was grateful we all had a day to spend together, if nothing else. That night we were their guests at the second sold out benefit show with Dave Matthews – I’ve only seen them a for a handful of moments since. While we miss them, it is hard not to be psyched for so much success.
The official worldwide re-release [and vinyl debut] of their album came out on Sub Pop & Heavenly just this week. It is an incredible honor to see my photos inside of both the CD and vinyl, which Sub Pop’s design team knocked out of the park; the packaging was obviously done with great attention & care. Thank you Chris, Charity, Kenny, Jon, Josiah, & Tyler. “Damien, hold the light” & much love to you all.