Behind everything Heartist do lies one simple goal: to bring real, honest emotion back into heavy music. "We started this band because we looked around and everything seemed stagnant, everyone just seemed to be doing the same thing, and I haven't heard a song on the radio that's really touched my soul in what seems like forever," states vocalist Bryce Beckley. "We want people to hear us and go wow, holy shit, that's what's been missing." Writing songs that are equal parts anthemic grandeur, brawny metalcore-infused heaviness, and chorus-driven radio rock nirvana, the quintet wear their influences on their collective sleeve while being far more than the sum of their parts. "Though we're very inspired by metal we always wanted to be a hard rock band, but at the same time more than that, to be a fresh take on that genre," says guitarist Tim Koch. "We infuse our music with heaviness and melody but also melancholy. We come out swinging with big riffs and a wall of guitars over driving rhythms, and we also bring in elements of movies scores and other flavors that just make everything bigger, deeper, and more atmospheric. We're doing something new, and we hope that excites people as much as it does us."
Formed in 2011, the members of Heartist - rounded out by guitarist Robby Devito, bassist Evan Ranallo and drummer Matt Marquez - walked away from college educations and secure employment to focus one hundred percent on music. They subsequently spent many months honing their sound, determined to create something that stood out on its own merits, and in no rush to leap back into the scene that failed to excite them. At the same time, they displayed a certain savvy in creating an online buzz that intrigued and lured potential fans without even playing a single show, a tactic that paid off - and then some. "We made teaser videos and got everyone talking about us before anyone had really heard us, and by the time we played our first show we not only had a following but also labels and booking agents keen to see what we had going on," says Beckley. "We also got lucky, because our A & R at Roadrunner books bands at our hometown venue, which we didn't realize, we just asked him to put us on! We really lucked out - we played that one show and got signed." In 2012 the band dropped their Nothing You Didn't Deserve EP, subsequently touring with the likes of Architects UK and Enter Shikari, plus a European run supporting label mates Killswitch Engage. Unsurprisingly, their energetic and engaging live show caught the attention of new fans everywhere they went, and they took a lot away from these experiences. "We learned a lot from touring with Killswitch, who have long been a big influence on me," says Koch. "They take their songwriting and playing their songs totally seriously, but they have fun up there, and that's really what we try to do. We play every song from our hearts, and we want everyone who comes to our shows to leave a with a smile on their face, because we certainly do."
While Nothing You Didn't Deserve was a solid release in its own right, it only hinted at what the band were capable of, and with debut full-length Feeding Fiction they lay it all on the line. With every song boasting a towering chorus that practically demands to be unleashed in arenas and stadiums, it is rich with hooks and chunky riffs, and Beckley's honest lyrics and soaring vocals easily situate him alongside those who inspired him. "We had been working on this record since before we even released the EP. We have put years of our lives into these songs, wanting them to be the absolute best they could be, and when we went into the studio we had twenty-six songs we all loved," says Beckley. Enlisting producer David Bendeth (Of Mice & Men, Breaking Benjamin) the first task he imposed upon them was whittling this twenty-six down to the eleven that would make the record, something that was considerably stressful for the members. "The first day we listened through all of the songs, and he made us pick which ones we wanted. It was literally like he gave us a gun and said pick which of your children are dying tonight! It was totally the right thing though, because while we still looked at them as individual tracks it resulted in the best album, and he clearly knew exactly what he doing from the start." Having achieved this, Bendeth pushed the band hard to ensure that their performances were the best they had ever given. "It was almost as if we had to relearn our craft. Our drummer had to relearn how to play drums, the same for our bass player, and he pushed me and pushed me to give everything I could on every vocal take. Really, he fixed all of our tiny flaws, turning us into the band we should be."
Great performances would be nothing without great songs, and as a lyricist Beckley stepped up his game dramatically. Pouring his heart into everything he wrote, the most important thing to him remains making a genuine connection with listeners. "I draw a lot from my own experiences but also from looking around me and seeing what's happening. I really try to tell a story, and with every line in every song we hope that some kid somewhere in the world will connect with it, and it will really hit home hard with them, that it will make a difference for them." Covering a variety of subjects, "Pressure Point" captures the vocalist's thoughts on the nature of the music industry and the greed stemming from those looking to profit from the hard work of others, while "Manipulate" is born of pure anger, as he vents his feelings on a manipulative ex. Lead single,
"Skeletons" shines as a gripping anthem, however it is closer "Demons" that packs the most profound emotional punch. Written from the perspective of someone who has committed suicide the singer really takes you into this character's mind. "The song is based upon the regret he feels over making the choice to kill himself, and how he had so many people who were there trying to help him and he never let them in. He wishes things could have been different, and that he had let the people save him when he had the chance, but now it's too late. That's a powerful idea for me, and I hope that maybe some kid going through a rough time hears that and understands what I'm saying, and doesn't make that same choice."
Armed with this album, the band are hitting the road hard, playing the songs they love in front of as many people as possible. Having achieved so much in so little time it's hard to imagine that they're not about to set the world on fire. "I think you have to dream big and set goals for yourselves or you're never going to reach them, and from day one we've been making it happen, so we don't see any reason to stop aiming higher," says Koch. "We're keeping our heads down, always pushing, but remaining very humble at the same time. Our goals are very high, but we're working very, very hard to get there."
Pressure Point [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
Disconnected (LYRIC VIDEO)
Where Did I Go Wrong?
UPCOMING TOUR DATES
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Ross Anderson | Roadrunner Records