Roots/rock: Catching up with Brandon Perry 

I got a tip recently from my music friend Henry French, who told me about a new Americana band called The Dead Hearts that he'll be playing with in September at Birdy's. We mentioned them on a few days ago, and I recently tracked down the band's lead singer, Brandon Perry, to find out more.

NUVO: How did you guys get together?
Brandon Perry: All of us had been playing a lot of music for a long time, but in very informal situations. It's tough to believe, but Brian [the band's keyboardist] has never been in a band. I think Joe [bass] is the only one of us that's played in a serious band in the past few years; he played in a rock band called Blue Sky Goodbye. Marc [drums] has played around town in a few informal projects, and was actually a tech for the Flying Toasters for a few years.

NUVO: What about yourself?
Brandon Perry: I hadn't played much in a few years, but I finally started playing guitar and keyboards with a band called Things Behind the Sun in December 2009. That is where I met Joe. The songs were really great, and we were having a good time, but there were just complications that stopped it from ever going anywhere. We couldn't agree on a drummer, [and the] first attempt at recording did not go well.

Joe and I were standing in line at Record Store Day in April this year, and he mentioned to me that he had played some of my home demos for his cousin Marc, and that Marc really liked them and might like to get together to play some time. I thought it was cool that he liked my songs, but thought, "Yeah...that'll never happen." Joe pushed a little, and I brought my friend Brian to the first rehearsal — and it just sounded good, and we all had a blast.

NUVO: It's a definite alt-country rock sound. Who are the influences?
Perry: Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, The Jayhawks, Wilco, The Elms, Justin Townes Earle, Gram Parsons,Tom Petty, Old 97's.

NUVO: And you guys are all Hoosiers?
Perry: We're all from Indiana. I just moved to Chicago a month ago, but Indianapolis is home to the band.

NUVO: I love the warm sound you got on the EP. Talk about that.
Perry: We recorded at this really vibe-y, little place in Noblesville called scientia studios. It's small, but has everything we could have needed and more. It's owned and operated by a guy named Alex Kercheval. He's very smart, has a good ear, and helped us to get what we wanted out of the session. The whole thing happened in about a day and a half. We went in on a Saturday morning and stayed for around 15 hours. We came back one night the following week to finish vocals and percussion. The process was a whirlwind. We're happy with the result.

NUVO: Any shows yet besides Birdy's?
Perry: There should be a few more shows announced soon, but at Birdy's on September 10, we're playing with Henry French and the Shameless, Ernie Halter (from LA), and The Bright White (from Chicago).

NUVO: Things have started to fall in place; good EP, guys that get along. What's next?
Perry: We want to have a lot of fun. We've got some new songs that we'd like to record and maybe put together a full-length release, but we really just want to get out, meet people and play. I also really want to nail down the sound of the band. The EP fits together well, but some of the newer stuff sounds very different.

NUVO: What are you learning?
Perry: As fun and liberating as it is playing with this band, it's very tough. I'm definitely not comparing us to them, but bands like Henry French and the Shameless, Stereo Deluxe and The Elms have this talent for making it look easy, and I'm positive that it's not. I'm not complaining at all, it's just crazy how much we're learning, and so quickly.

NUVO: Any bumps in the road and roll road?
Perry: We had to cancel a show in Chicago, because the promoter finally disclosed that they were going to be very particular in what drums setup Marc was allowed to play. We rehearse at my old house in Indy most of the time and we've had the police show up once and two neighbors stop by telling us to "please turn that thing down."

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Rob Nichols

Rob Nichols

A music writer for more than 30 years, Rob began as a rock radio jock at age 17. Born in central Indiana, Rob moved north and spent his college years in Hillsdale, Michigan. That meant traveling to Detroit for all the good rock shows, and explains his affinity for Seger, the J. Geils Band, and Mitch Ryder. He's... more

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