The Head and the Heart in S.B.

Seattle Folk Group Play the Arlington

James Minchin

The Head and the Heart has become increasingly popular on mainstream airwaves in recent years. You may have heard its melancholic “Rivers and Roads” on such TV shows as Chuck, How I Met Your Mother, and New Girl or the capricious yet optimistic “Lost in My Mind” as the backing track for the trailer of the Jennifer Lawrence film Silver Linings Playbook.

Active since 2009, The Head and the Heart is composed of multi-instrumentalists who are fueled by a passion to create music. The members met at Seattle’s Conor Byrne Pub, where bassist Chris Zasche was the bartender, and bonded over playing open-mic sets “over the course of six months or so,” said pianist Kenny Hensley in a recent interview with The Santa Barbara Independent.

Based in Seattle, the band was influenced by the city’s rich musical history from the very start; it’s the reason why more than half of its members moved there. “This band would have never existed if it weren’t for that. Seattle is incredible. I love Los Angeles so much, but I'm sure there are incredible musicians/songwriters who play around town and will never make it because people aren't paying attention to what they are doing,” said Hensley, a L.A. native with roots in Ventura. “In Seattle, you can play an open mic and start drawing a crowd if you're any good. People there respect the art and support it fully, and that is rare.”

Despite having songs on numerous television and film soundtracks, the band didn’t form with commercial success in mind. “It was purely for the joy of creating something with other people who had similar musical minds,” Hensley said. “I've been making music most of my life, and it's always been purely for my own therapy. I can't say that I am creating any music for anyone outside of my personal life, but that's what shows are for. You're able to share [something] personal in a way, and I will always love people who are touched by anything we create.”

The creative process isn’t always so easy, however. “We kinda just play music and write songs, and the songs we like the most we put together in a specific order that takes us forever to decide,” Hensley said of the band’s creative process. “And then release it as an album.”  

Members of The Head and the Heart are keeping busy these days, on the road for their Signs of Light tour, which sees them playing Coachella April 15 and 22. And while they show no signs of musical stagnation, Hensley credits other artists as a motivation to continue their pace. “We've done tours now with some of my favorite bands,” he said. “And there's nothing better than watching a band you've loved since high school sound check every day.”

The Head and the Heart could be considered indie folk-rock heroes for the Pacific Northwest music scene. From seven strangers performing in a bar to headlining a world tour, this musical collective testifies to how a group of like-minded individuals can cohesively create, expand, and nurture the creative process.

4·1·1 The Head and the Heart performs with special guest Dreamers Saturday, April 8, 8 p.m., at the Arlington Theatre (1317 State St.). Call (805) 963-4408 or see thearlingtontheatre.com.

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