The Band of Heathens Celebrate Life with New Record Duende

Sometimes when an album is so eclectic, it can be seen as distracting or unfocused. However, nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to the latest and fifth studio album from Americana rock band The Band of Heathens, Duende.

“Duende” is a Spanish noun that can mean: 1. a quality of inspiration and passion 2. A heightened sense of emotion, expression and authenticity 3. a spirit. Interestingly, there is not a word in English that clearly translates to the same meaning. “I came across the word a long time ago, a friend used it in a different context and I learned about the meaning of it,” explains BOH co-founder Ed Jurdi. “You always have these seeds of ideas, and I brought the name up to Gordy [Quist, co-founder]. It became our mantra for the recording of the album – getting the essential soul of the band.”

There is plenty of soul on Duende, no matter the vibe of the song: “Sugar Queen” is an infectious rollicking romp that is reminiscent of the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman;” “All I’m Asking” is a sweet, almost pop love song; and the funky, slow burning “Daddy Longlegs” which gives off Sly and the Family Stone vibes is the curveball of the record. Instead of sounding like a hodgepodge though, the diverse sounds instead display the strengths of the entire band, which also includes Trevor Nealon, Richard Millsap, and Scott Davis.

Part of this success can be attributed to engineer/co-producer Jim Vollentine (who has also worked with Spoon, White Rabbits, and many others), who Jurdi calls “brilliant.” “I was sick in the studio recording ‘Daddy Longlegs’ and we did a couple takes. Jim Vollentine became the sixth member of the band by making it sound funky and weird – something I did not expect it to become, but it became much cooler,” he says.

Despite the different sounds on the record, there is an overall theme that connects the songs: “the collective search for connection and communion in a technology-fueled world.” “[The theme] came out of discussions together, and watching people drawn to their phones, etc.,” explains Jurdi. “[We were like] ‘let’s really get to the essence of this record, find a way to connect with these songs and then we can connect to the audience with these songs.'”

This topic is strongly felt on “Cracking the Code,” a sarcastic commentary on our culture’s social media absorption, as well as on “Road Dust Wheels,” a powerful mediation on immigration which reminds us how we all strive for the American Dream. “The news emphasize our divisions, but it’s not true – when people get into a room, there’s much more that [they] agree on – they want to experience joy, fall in love, etc.,” says Jurdi. 

The band is currently on tour supporting Duende, and things couldn’t be going better. “We’ve been in a really good place, this record raised the bar for us,” Jurdi says. “We’ve been playing every song on the record, which doesn’t always happen.”

The Band of Heathens make their way to the Philly area this Thursday, June 15th to the Sellersville Theatre, which they have played before and Jurdi “loves.” “It’s a great time to be in the Northeast,” notes Jurdi, referring to the warmer weather we have now that the Austin-based musician is used to year-round.

Jurdi has been playing with The Band of Heathens for over ten years now, and he couldn’t be more grateful. “With some of the madness that has been going on in the world, we feel fortunate to play shows to people who want to enjoy life, and that they choose to do that with us.” 

Celebrate life with The Band of Heathens this Thursday and hear Duende live! Tickets for their Sellersville Theatre show can be purchased here

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