What do you do when the world is suddenly put on hold? For the American rock ‘n’ roll group The Band of Heathens, they returned to some old classics and reconnected with the music they loved.
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The group connected via Zoom from their respective homes all over the country to host a ninety-minute variety show titled the Good Time Supper Club. A segment of the show, called “Remote Transmissions,” became a fan favorite each week and is now the title of their upcoming album (volume one of a planned series).
The album features covers of ten classic songs (of the near 50 they recorded during the pandemic) by artists including Margo Price, Todd Snider, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Nicki Bluhm, Hayes Carll, and Charlie Starr.
“Making records is always about cataloging any point in time. We wanted to celebrate the unique collaborative aspect of the show,” guitarist Ed Jurdi told American Songwriter. “What better way to document the last year than with these songs?”
After recording their last album, Stranger, in 2020 during isolation, guitarist/vocalist and founding member Gordy Quist reflected on one of the first moments the band was able to get together again.
“That first time we got together, it really did kind of feel like we were 13 years old in our garage, [getting] into the first time. It was pretty incredible,” he said.
He then added that returning to the music they grew up on allowed them to nurture their songwriting process.
“When we were all younger teenagers, that was the first peek behind the curtain of how to write a song—by learning other people’s songs. And studying that setting form and the lyric structure and the chord changes, and what makes the bridge different. A lot of these covers were, you know, tunes we have played before in our youth, and then some of them were tunes we had never played before,” Quist said.
Returning to these old favorites made the heaviness of the pandemic easier to process, too. Over the past couple of years, Jurdi explained that everyone had been through the wringer of emotions, and being able to reconnect with the songwriting process allowed for this new album to materialize.
“I do think everyone sort of ran the gamut of emotions over the past couple of years here,” Jurdi added, “everything from sorrow, anxiety, sadness, to being grateful, thankful for your situation. If you have to find a way with your family and your close friends and community to rally together and find a way through this, I feel like that’s always reflective in the songwriting. Whether it’s something that’s bubbling in the surface, and then you can detect, or if it’s something that’s a sub thread. [It] emotionally affects kind of where you’re writing from.”
The Band of Heathens is set to release their cover compilation Remote Transmissions Vol. One on Friday, February 25. But before then, though, we get the opportunity to listen to one of the album’s ten songs—a Marty Robbins classic “El Paso City.” This single features Mark Wystrach of Midland, keeping with the album’s collaborative theme.
You can pre-order Remote Transmissions Vol. One here. Upon its release, the album will be available for purchase wherever music is sold.
The band hopes to continue working on a new studio album for a release in early 2023.
Listen to “El Paso City” below.
Photo by Campbell Stetter / Absolute Publicity.