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Herald-Review Show Preview 150 150 The Band of Heathens

JIM VOREL H&R Staff Writer

3/14/14 BLOOMINGTON — For every band there come forks in the road, moments where members must either reaffirm their passion for a project or go their separate ways.
When Austin-based Americana group Band of Heathens lost three of their longtime members in 2012, it was one of those moments. Founders Ed Juri and Gordy Quist were left, musical partners who had been in the band together since 2005. It was their call to decide what to do. Thankfully for Band of Heathens fans, their choice seemed obvious.
“It was like a three-minute conversation that we had,” said vocalist Juri, who will lead the band in a Thursday night appearance at Bloomington’s Castle Theatre. “I looked at Gordy and was like, ‘You still want to do this thing?’ We felt there was still a lot of potential and space to explore, and we had a good nucleus to build around.”
Still, replacing half of a six-piece group is by no means an easy feat. This process, coupled with the personal evolution and changes experienced by all members, made the 2013 recording of the band’s most recent album, “Sunday Morning Record,” a more challenging experience than usual. The things that take the longest aren’t even aspects of the band that fans can see or hear. Ultimately, it’s all about relationships.
“The most difficult aspect is really an internal thing,” Juri said. “This is all based on trust, so even when you’re playing with great musicians, it takes awhile to truly come together. In a way, that was reinvigorating, but it was also a challenge to bring all those new guys in. We’re just now getting to the point where I feel like we’re the best we’ve ever been.”
Juri has his bond with Quist to thank for at least some of that. They no longer live in the same half of the country, as Juri moved to Asheville, N.C., last year, but the singer said he and his partner had always possessed the ability to roll and adapt to each other’s lives. Through everything, their friendship and commitment to the band have always won out.
“We have been compatible and flexible as our lives change, and we have a healthy respect for each other,” he said. “The whole group genuinely enjoys each other’s company and is committed to making the music as good as it can be.”
The Americana music of the group has often been reflective of their city of origin, Austin, Texas. The band’s inspiration was discovered there by Juri, who was drawn by the prospect of an unusually vibrant scene for singer-songwriters.
“I initially came there because of all those great songwriters,” he said. “What strikes you is the fact that those guys are doing their job all the time, whenever they’re in town. They gig every weeknight. The city certainly has a love affair with music and supports so many original bands. There’s not a lot of other places like it.”
In many ways, Band of Heathens are still evolving on a nightly basis. They regularly record each one of their gigs and offer the “bootlegs” for purchase and download at the end of the night. Fans collect these bootlegs ravenously and use them to form their own unique mixes of live material. But Juri is listening along as well, analyzing each show with an eye for the future.
“The bootlegs are the clearest indication for us of what’s working and what’s not,” he said. “Lately, it’s working pretty well. I’m excited about how the band is sounding.”

        Good ol’ rock and roll from Austin, TX