The newest band signed to Roadrunner Records is Southern California's Heartist: vocalist Bryce Beckley, guitarists Jonathan Gaytan and Tim Koch, drummer Matt Marquez and bassist Evan Ranallo. Their self-produced, six-song EP, Nothing You Didn't Deserve, will be available on iTunes on October 16. In the meantime, get to know the band on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and check HeartistBand.com for updates; the band will be rolling out lyric videos for each track from the EP in the coming weeks. The first of those, for the song "Disconnected," is above.
The lead track from the EP, “Disconnected,” is now available for FREE download at HeartistBand.com.
We interviewed vocalist Bryce Beckley about how the band came together, the recording of the EP, and more.
How long has the band been together?
The band formed in early 2011. It started with our two guitarists, Tim and John. They had come from another band that had recently broken up, and they decided to give it another shot, and they found me; I had recently left my band as well. I went over there and auditioned for them—they seemed to really like it, so we started writing together. We originally were going to do a couple of demos, but the more stuff we wrote, we were just like, let’s shoot for a whole EP. We had Matt, our drummer, who at the time was playing with Norma Jean, track for us. Matt ended up leaving Norma Jean later on, after a little convincing by us. We picked up our bassist very late last year to complete the lineup.
How old are you guys?
Matt is 27, John is 24, Tim is 23, and Evan and I are 22.
How do the songwriting responsibilities break down?
Typically, Tim or John will demo out a song with guitars, bass, and computerized drums. I’ll come over to the house and we’ll start working on lyrics together. Since Evan joined the band after the EP was already completed, and Matt was a studio drummer on it, it was pretty much Tim and John writing guitars and I wrote 90 percent of the lyrics and vocal melodies. Now, it’s been split up a lot—Evan’s been writing a lot of guitar parts for us, and we’re working together a lot on most of the songs that we’ve been demoing for a future full-length.
What was the first song you guys wrote together?
The very first song we wrote together was “Disconnected,” and then the one that directly followed that was “Nothing You Didn’t Deserve,” followed by “Where Did I Go Wrong?”.
What's your favorite of your songs?
My favorite…I think it’s gotta be a tie. I love “Where Did I Go Wrong?” because it’s so different from the rest of the EP. We really tried to get a different sound going so that we could show everything we’re capable of. After that, I think my favorites have gotta be between “Rhinestone” and “The Answer.”
Do you feel like your sound has been evolving since the group formed?
Well, yeah, definitely. When we first joined together, we had a collective goal that we didn’t want to get stuck in a specific scene; get locked in to where we could only play heavy shows and that kind of thing. We deliberately wrote our EP so that it was kind of a transitional sound, in between heavy rock and hardcore music, with breakdowns and stuff. And we did it that way so that if we made a transition in either direction, it wouldn’t be super surprising to fans. Currently we’re demoing out for a full-length, and we’re going for a much heavier, dark rock sound.
There's an electronic element to your music that's not just a few sounds here and there for effect; it really seems integral to the material. Who's responsible for that, especially live?
We actually play all the sound design stuff on backing tracks. But the way that came about was that we were trying to do something different, and the guy that we recorded with, who did our sound design, does soundtracks for movies and video games, that kind of thing. So he’s really phenomenal with doing sound design. We wanted to have this almost movie composition epic quality to the sound, not just keys thrown on top of stuff. So it ended up becoming an integral part of the music, where we needed it to be another instrument, like the fifth player in the band.
If you could open for any band, who would it be?
Any band? Oh, man, that’s a good question. Me personally, I’m really into ambient heavy music like Circa Survive or Get Scared or Our Last Night; I would love to play with those bands. There are definitely some bands I would love to get on the road with and just meet and hang out with.
Can you talk a little bit about the EP's cover art?
The idea was that when we started writing the music we wanted to make sure we were putting as much emotion into the songs as possible. That was one of our most important goals; we wanted it to be so that when you would hear these songs your mind would call back certain experiences—some good, some bad. A lot of the songs have a very strong love element, whether it’s about breakups or falling for someone and having your heart broken—it’s on a broad spectrum, anywhere from being in love and then to losing it; but it’s got two faces or sides to it, where the emotions kind of play from a very sad, angry scale up to a happier, more upbeat scale. The whole idea of the cover art is that one side represents two people being in love, their happiness; the opposite side represents their anger and deceit, maybe even betrayal. I think it came out really great—we’re very happy with it.