Ahead of the Head and the Heart

The Head and the Heart's Kenny Hensley talks touring and the condition of an old friend

The last time Kenny Hensley was at SOMA, he was 15 years old watching the Faint open for Bright Eyes.

That was 2005.

On Sunday, April 9 -- a little more than 12 years later -- the Los Angeles native will perform in front of a sold-out crowd at that very same venue with his Seattle-based folk-rock band, the Head and the Heart.

I spoke Hensley, the band's pianist, over the phone while he was golfing at Los Feliz Golf Club in Los Angeles about their tour that finds them stopping at Coachella, Sasquatch!, Red Rocks Amphitheatre and other majestic theaters along the way. As for sprawling, livelier rock stages like SOMA, the band actually might enjoy playing those even more.

"We play a lot of these theater shows, and as great as they are, and as beautiful as they look, they are not always the most energetic," Hensley explained. "So, I think whenever we can, we try to play more of these bigger rock clubs because people just seemed to be more into it, and it’s more energizing for the band too -- rather than a giant theater where you have to work on people getting up and what not.”

The Head and the Heart have played hundreds upon hundreds of shows over the years -- and apart from a mini-hiatus in 2014, they've been touring non-stop since they got their start in 2009. With live shows being their strong suit, Hensley recognizes that the band’s studio recordings may not quite capture the energy of an in-person performance.

“I’ve seen so many bands that I looked forward to seeing for so long and then you see them live and they sound like crap -- it’s a bummer. So, I think we take that pretty seriously and we don’t want to be that band. We want people to go to a show and have such a good time that they want to see us as soon as possible and come back. I think we have a ton of fans coming to multiple shows, we see the same people at shows frequently, some people have followed us around on tours and I think that's an incredible thing and a really good sign that we’re doing it right.”

For the past year, the band has been without co-frontman Josiah Johnson due to his struggle with addiction (the band hasn't specified what that's in regards to), who has since been temporarily replaced by Matt Gervais, the husband of guitarist/vocalist Charity Rose Thielen. Of course, with Johnson being a substantial part of the Head and the Heart, I asked how his recovery was coming along.

“Everything seems to be positive and I think he’s in a much better place than he was a year and a half ago," Hensley said. "We don’t have any concrete plans as far as what’s going to come next, or how we are going to go about it, but the main goal, and main idea for the last year, was him getting healthy and taking his life and his health as priority No. 1, and the band No. 2. If that means not touring for a while or being away from us for a while, then that's what will have to happen and we have to respect that. It’s been really good for him, I think.”

Musician, people-pleaser, lover, fighter and writer Matthew Craig Burke has been spewing musical words of wisdom since never. He lives off of peanut butter sandwiches, beer and Beck Hansen. Follow his updates on Facebook or contact him directly.

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