The Head and the Heart-Singing, stomping and clapping their way to the top

The Northwest was introduced to The Head and the Heart (THATH) in 2009 after they formed and became regulars at Ballard’s Conor Byrne open mic night. The band quickly became local favorites and soon was signed with the beloved local label Sub Pop. They continued to soar in popularity and were soon in high demand and nationally known.

On the back of their seventh appearance on national TV and their second time on CONAN, THATH started their third US tour on Sept. 15 and will be ending the tour in Bellingham on Oct. 12 at WWU.

As the band’s popularity continues to rise, they’ve stayed on the road and out of the studio. According to Jon Russell, the band’s lead vocalist, THATH will be heading back into the studio next year.

“Getting into the studio is top priority. The goal is to get into the studio in early 2013.” Jon went on to explain “I have no idea what fans should expect from the new album. It’s a lengthy process. And to get it to the point where it can be heard will take some time.”

Finding time to record at all is a challenge for the band, with their rapid rise in popularity and busy tour schedule. And you may assume it’s been difficult for the band members to adapt to being away so often. Jon gave me an understanding of how he feels about life on the road.

“Being gone all the time is really hard on everyone around you, harder than it is on yourself. It’s what I’ve been working on for years now.” He goes on to explain how his loved ones deal with his constant absence “Stability and mundane day to day things make me antsy. I do better with this kind of lifestyle. My friends and girlfriend knew that about me before THATH got so busy. Before you even get to this stage, if this is something you’ve been striving for your whole life, it deflects the people that can’t handle this kind of lifestyle. Once it started to happen for me, it was natural.”

What is the secret to THATH’s fast paced success?

“Some people are cut out for it and some aren’t. You’ll meet bands that don’t have the drive to tour or do shows all the time. It blows my mind when bands say, “You’re so lucky.” I respond by saying “No, we just said yes, when you said no. You chose your day job when we chose our band.”

While their success has found them on the road quite frequently, finding the joy in traveling to new places seems to be the bands best coping mechanism for being away.

“Germany has been my favorite place we’ve visited as a band. Out of the places we went to in Europe, Germany was what I was most intrigued by. It seemed to click. Although I was not really able to be touristy, it’s nice to at least visit places.”

While the band appreciates life on the road, Seattle always his home. One local show in particular stands out for Jon, an example of the energy of playing in your home town.

“A show at the Moore Theatre has been the most memorable hometown show we’ve done. That show had a little more magic than any other local show we’ve played. You can’t plan it, it just happened.”

After chatting with Jon about the future of THATH, we came to our last question. While Jon’s focus is the road, it has come at a price. The band doesn’t have a “mascot,” which for Jon is of the four legged variety.

“I wish we had a mascot! I wish I had a dog I could take everywhere with me. I can’t get a dog, that’s the second hardest thing about touring. Maybe one day when we all have buses, I would get a dog. I had a dog once named Rooney who was a pitbull, who loved to play. If I got a dog, I’d get one I could wrestle with and could take to the lake.”

I hope that one day, Jon’s wish to have a tour dog will come true!

I’m grateful that Jon took the time to interview with me on THAT’s third day of tour, where he was still adjusting to being on the road.

“I have one foot in reality and one foot in tour. I don’t understand how people have facebook on tour. How are you doing that? I have to commit fully to one or the other, my normal life or tour. When I’m on tour I commit fully to the mindset of touring.”

It’s wonderful to see yet another one of Seattle’s former best-kept secrets land a spot in the CD players and iPods of fans around the world. Be sure to catch The Head and the Heart while they’re on tour. It sounds like they’ll be shut away for a good chunk of 2013 recording their next foot stomping, hand clapping super album.


Catch The Head and the Heart at the WWU on Oct. 12 with Bryan John Appleby. For more information, visit