Q&A: The Head and the Heart


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In between the release of a new album, performing at various venues around the globe and rarely finding time to sit still, Tyler Williams, the drummer for The Head and the Heart took a moment to speak about his lifestyle … one that took a drastic turn just four years ago, when the group came together. After performances in Canada, New York, and Michigan, the group will perform a sold-out show at the Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington, at 8 p.m. Friday as a key part of the Mission Creek Festival.

The Daily Iowan: What has it been like growing close with these people and sharing the experience of your newly found fame together?

Tyler Williams: It all still feels pretty new, pretty fresh, but it’s been really great seeing it all come together. We’re a lot like a family. We fight, and we argue, but everyone is equal. We rely on each other for help and making decisions, etc.

DI: What has that progression been like?

Williams: I joined immediately after listening to an acoustic demo of “Down in the Valley” that Jon, (Jonathon Russell, vocals, guitar, percussion) sent me. From there, I packed up and moved from Virginia to Seattle in September of 2009. For a while, it was really hard being on the road with these people all the time because you’re constantly in everybody’s space each day. Luckily, we’ve gotten a lot stronger, and the tour that we’re in now helps because we each have more of our own private space.

DI: What is it like having such a large fan base … people who are willing to pay to come see you perform?

Williams: It’s interesting. I try not to think about it … it’s weird. We’ve always been ourselves, and I think a part of that goes with not thinking you’re famous. We’ve stayed true to ourselves. We feel like the underdog, really.

DI: You’ve been traveling for a while now, leaving Canada just last night and playing in New York tonight. Can you explain what life on the road is like?

Williams: It’s … interesting. You get used to looking at Yelp a lot for dinner reviews. We always try to find something interesting to do in the city where we’re at, even if it’s just for a day. There’s always something to do, though.

DI: Is it something you get used to?

Williams: I’m not sure if it’s something you can ever get used to … you roll with it because it becomes your life. You’ll always miss those things at home. I take pictures with me of people that I love. But I like to live in the moment, so whatever helps me do that as much as possible. I’m just living a different life than most people.

DI: So it has its challenges?

Williams: You miss home, family, and friends. Life constantly on the road leads to ghost-man syndrome. Life has changed back at home … people break up, and friends go through whatever they’re dealing with, but you’ve been on the road; you haven’t been there to see all the change happening

DI: Do you have a favorite city, venue, or experience thus far?

Williams: I love playing Amsterdam … it’s probably one of my favorite cities in the world, actually. We all really like Milwaukee; they treat us really well … like its our second home town, always so welcoming, and so it’s a lot of fun to go back and play there. They’re very good to us along with the Midwest.

DI: How does the process of writing music work with a group of six?

Williams: A couple members of the group will come up with material and bring them to us, sometimes just ideas and sometimes almost complete. We’ll talk about the direction we see the song going, parts that need to be switched around and edit it all together. Everyone puts his or her stamp on each song.

DI: Do you have a favorite aspect of this new lifestyle?

Williams: Playing shows every night is the dream you have when you first start playing music. It has been my dream since I was 9 years old, when I first started playing the drums. Travel is nice, especially when you’re traveling with a crew that’s helping you so much. We have all become so close. It helps a lot to have each others backs, share inside jokes, etc.

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