Featured image photo credit to Molly DeCoudreaux!
This week I got in touch with Rowan, from the San Francisco band HEARTWATCH, to find out more about their new album and upcoming Noise Pop show at The Independent this Wednesday, February 24th. Read on for an exclusive look at what the band has been up to for the past year and how living in the Bay Area has influenced their style.
About the Band
What brought all of the members of HEARTWATCH together wasn’t some crazy happenstance, but instead constant dedication and involvement in music. Nate knew Eric and Kern from other bands they had been in together throughout the years and Rowan had just moved down from Portland, Oregon hoping for a shot to join a band in San Francisco. Claire and Eric were the first members to really start jamming together, which is how the band formed.
If you’re a fan from their earlier days, you’ll remember when HEARTWATCH used to be called The Tropics. Rowan told me the reason for the change was mostly aimed at giving the band some more originality since there was already a number of other bands who had names with either tropical references or even the word “Tropics” in their name.
When trying to pick out a new name, the band wanted to choose one that would be a true expression of who they are. As Rowan put it, “In changing our name we wanted to stick with something that still felt like us but also celebrated the emotional quality we feel our music puts out there.”
“HEARTWATCH” comes from one of their earlier songs that they no longer perform, but still holds a certain nostalgia and meaning for them. They made the switch just before Outside Lands 2015 and have been loving the new energy that it brings.
In the past year, everything from the vision to the sound and style of the band has gone through changes. Very recently they wrapped up a tour with MS MR and Jack Garratt that began with a show at the Fox Theater in Oakland. Rowan says they viewed this as a transition into something bigger and more grand than before.
They aren’t kidding about that either. About a year ago from now they were opening for Cathedrals at The Independent, and now this month they are the headlining band at the same venue! AND, starting in March they will be touring the west coast with The Flavr Blue.
Rowan said another huge change in the last year has been their sound. They had a couple of singles out when they were known as The Tropics and while those definitely still represent them, they’ve grown a lot with the recording of their self-titled mini-album, which is set to release this month. Songwriting and recording has been at their heart of their band as they spend time together since the very beginning.
“We experiment a lot and try different ideas out even if we know we’ll never use them for much.” – Rowan
Rowan said that he himself and his fellow band members have three main musical inspirations.
- Tame Impala’s newest album, Currents: They love the way that the album presents something fresh but also nostalgic to the listener. It’s an often sought-after sound. If you haven’t checked out this album yet, do yourself a favor and go do that now.
- Future Islands: I don’t know if you’ve read my “About the Author” page on my blog, but this is my all-time favorite band! Looks like HEARTWATCH has good taste!
- The Strokes: As Rowan put it, “Of course, the world wouldn’t be right without The Strokes!”
Outside of musical influences, I asked Rowan how the beautiful city-by-the-bay has influenced them in their writing as well. He said the the most influential things about San Francisco is the nature, the scenery, and the climate. You can definitely hear the influence in their a few of their songs.
They feel that the music scene in the Bay Area has a sense of closeness among the members that all of them feel and try to reflect in their writing. They feel it adds a positive vibe to their music.
Their favorite song to play live is “Gone Too Long,” which will be released on their HEARTWATCH mini-album soon. They said that it just feels good since it’s a mix of laid back and bombastic. As Rowan put it, “It’s that kinda song where the words just roll of of your tongue like water.”
Their new album is songs that they wrote immediately after releasing their first album, Wind House. They view their first album as a musical landscape that they generated together, so the inspiration for their second album grew from a desire to take that sound, magnify it, and let it shine.
Rowan’s favorite song from the new album is called Teeth. He said that while it isn’t one of those instant-hit singles, it has a “complex melodic structure and an interesting non-conformist arrangement that lends it a unique sound.”
Rowan and the rest of the band are looking forward to the album release becuase it marks the completion of a hefty and time-consuming project. While a lot of the work involved in writing and recording an album is task-oriented, so much of it is also emotionally tolling. They’re mostly looking forward to now spending their time sharing their new work with their fans before bunkering down to work on their next album (yes, it looks like we are going to get another album!).
Check out their most recently released single.
Album Release Show Info
If you’re now dying to see HEARTWATCH perform like I am, you’re in luck! They are playing an album release show this Wednesday, February 24th at The Independent in San Francisco. Head over to www.songkick.com to purchase your tickets. Hope to see you there!