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Now the Head and the Heart can fly

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After a seemingly never-ending series of years on the road and two albums under their belt, The Head and the Heart took a brief hiatus before diving into crafting their newest album Signs of Light. During that break they all went their own separate ways to re-energize. "We were pretty burnt out on the idea of touring anymore or really being around each other, we just needed a break from each other," pianist, Kenny Hensley tells me when I call him prior to the band's show at Old National Centre on February 23.

"During the break," Hensley says, "I did a couple of things I had always been wanting to do, but never had either the time or money. One was learning how to fly airplanes, I started taking flying lessons to get my pilot's license. And another thing, which is very random, and a lot of people seem shocked by it, is I went to this school in China with my best friend. It was a Kung Fu school in the mountains in China."

Hensley laughs while he describes how the break allowed him to come back fresh to the band. Anyone who has listened to them since their folky, key-jangling, debut album will immediately recognize how much that little break caused their music to drastically change sonically and lyrically on their third album. Rather than songs that were the musical equivalent of a transcendental walk through the hills of Kentucky and West Virginia, the band has eschewed the use of acoustic instruments and moved into a new, happier, electronic sound.

When I ask Hensley what led to this change of sound, he says, "I don't think there was a decision really, I think it was really our natural progression as a band, or as musicians. You know, over time you start playing other instruments, or for example, you start playing your electric guitar more than your acoustic guitar."

Fans attending the show will recognize another major change during this tour: the absence of lead singer Josiah Johnson. Following the recording of the new album, Johnson publicly announced he was checking into rehab to address his addiction problems. Hensley assures that this won't change the dynamics of the live shows.

"We've gotten used to it," he says. "As far as our live show goes, Matty [Gervais, husband of Charity Rose Thielen who plays violin, banjo and does vocals for the band] who has filled in for him, is a great friend of ours, and is a great musician and has kind of a similar voice to him and so the harmonies don't really sound all that different ... I think we've grown into this new line-up for now and the show is just as energetic and impactful as it ever was with Josiah. Obviously we miss him and he's a huge part of the band, and the idea is that he'll be back with us eventually."


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