Head for the Hills, formed in 2003 in Fort Collins, Colorado while living in the dorm rooms at Colorado State University. Adam Kinghorn (guitar/vocals), then a freshman, was playing guitar and noticed Matt Loewen (upright bass/vocals) walking down the hall with a cool band T-shirt and he called out, “hey guy, we gotta jam sometime.” Adam was visiting a friend’s dorm room, and Joe Lessard (violin/vocals) was the neighbor. Joe heard guitar sounds and brought his violin and his classical training, to the session. Adam asked if he knew any fiddle tunes and Joe replied, “not yet.” In the early days the band played songs like Shady Grove, but now they have evolved into a “post-modern bluegrass outfit,” infused with bluegrass, jazz, hip-hop, folk, and soul, that curates a distinctive sound, known as, Head for the Hills (H4TH).
Head for the Hills plays the opening of the historic Mishawaka Amphitheatre Saturday, May 12, 2018, at 7:00 in Bellvue, CO. This is the 14th year the band has played as the opener of the Mishawaka in Pickin’ on the Poudre.
Joe talks about the performance,
“We are just blowing it out this year. We are going to have a bunch of special guests. Local people that we love, a little horn section, back up singers, and favorite local pickers. We will have all the tasty flavors, not part of the band all the time. We are looking to bring something special to the show.”
H4TH plan to feature songs from their second LP, Potions and Poisons. The record is, “a look at the darker side of love, lust, and life; an examination of our affinity for and aversion to the things that make us fragile but human.” But also give the audience an insight into their own “potions and poisons,” by transporting them on a musical journey of what the band listens to while on tour.
Matt gives the details about the uniqueness of this show:
“In addition to bringing a bunch of special guests out, we are going to be doing some material that the band hasn’t done before that is close to our hearts. We do a lot of record shopping. We dig for 45’s, go through all the dusty stuff. We have pulled some of those songs, that over the years of touring and going to most of the country, that we unearthed off the shelves and floors, and we are going to perform them. We have only done a little of that in the past. This is a new cool thing that we have never done before.”
As musicophiles and musicians, they consume as much music as they play. They have a portable record player that is as vital as their guitar, fiddle, and bass, on tour.
“We are bringing you into our a world a little bit. This is the stuff we are listening to at 2 am after a show, as we fall asleep.This is the stuff we are excited to dig into on our record player in the hotel room.”
In each city, they visit the vinyl shop to discover the rare jewels of music.
“We acquire hundreds of records on tour, and we shuffle them into the hotel room every night. We get to look at the artwork, admire the band, and listen to the sounds.”
Leading up to Pickin’ on the Poudre H4TH will be doing a Music Residency at the Music District. The Music District will help facilitate practice for the larger groups of guest musicians who are performing at The Mishawaka with the band. There will be some exclusive events, including an open rehearsal, and social media takeover, with the group at the district before the big day.
On the new release, Joe and his graphic design partner Zander did the cover art from a bunch of different photographs, like one Matt took, and drawings he did, Joe says, “it is a recycled, re-purposed cover.” Vinyl to the band is art, and they designed it with intention.
Matt talks about his passion behind vinyl recordings,
“Buying the record is like buying the tangible poster, which retains its value and lasts longer than a T-shirt. We all have a love for that medium, and so we are always really happy when we can put out our music in that format. It is my preferred listening experience 100% across the board.”
Adam adds thoughtfully,
“It makes you have to get up off of your couch and flip the record. It is active listening. In fact, when we are sequencing songs, we are thinking about what song can you end on the first side to make that person want to get up and flip that record.”
Purchase Potions and Poisons, out on vinyl, released with a lyric sheet and a download card, or join the annual opening of the Mishawaka with some hometown musicians and a timeless soundtrack performed live from Head for the Hills.
Thanks to Mobb Moutain Distillers for the space to host the interview and photo session.