After playing major music festivals, The Head and the Heart is poised to break out in a big way

Jonathan Russell of The Head and the Heart. The band performs Oct. 2 at Red Hat.
Jonathan Russell of The Head and the Heart. The band performs Oct. 2 at Red Hat. AFP/Getty Images

When Tyler Williams joined the The Head and the Heart in 2009, it was the move the drummer had been hoping for.

The band, based in Seattle, had just a handful of demos at the time, but Williams knew moving from his Richmond, Va., home to Seattle would be a risk worth taking. The Richmond music scene then was far different from what it is today – a place many now consider a destination for music fans and musicians. Any musician wanting to make a career knew they’d need to leave to do so.

The move paid off for the Richmond native, as The Head and the Heart has found success, including several songs appearing in TV shows (“How I Met Your Mother” and “Roadies”) and in film (“Silver Linings Playbook” and the “Gleason” documentary). Their major label debut album, 2016’s “Signs of Light,” launched the single, “All We Ever Knew,” which reached No. 1 on Billboard’s alternative songs charts and No. 13 on the rock chart. They’ve appeared at major music festivals, including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and Coachella, in 2017 alone.

The tour will bring the band to Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheater Oct. 2.

Williams, reached by phone on the eve of the fall tour’s first show, reminisces about the days before he joined the nascent indie folk outfit, and how drastic a change it is to go from scrapping for local gigs to performing in front of sell-out crowds.

“Once I got to Seattle, only to find a community that both loved to find and support new music, it was a completely different world,” he said. “Just as an example, you could form a new band that no one had heard any music from, and sell out a venue at $15 a ticket as soon as tickets went on sale. In Richmond, you could barely get someone to leave their house if the tickets were $3 each.”

When the band decided to take some time off in 2014 after four years of touring non-stop, the six members of Head and Heart went in their separate directions to recharge. Williams went home to Virginia, where he had moved back to in 2011. He was able to fully immerse himself in the music scene that had developed in his absence.

“It’s pretty amazing to see the differences,” he said. “Now, it seems like a real musical community has grown here, and bands are actually breaking nationally,” he said, mentioning singer-songwriter Natalie Prass and rock band J. Roddy Walston and the Business.

“There are some amazing musicians that live here now, and they are really helping to create something magical,” he said. “It’s all of these people coming together to boost each other up, and everyone is helping find these cool opportunities for one another.”

With the band members recharged after time off, and with their newly signed contract with Warner Bros. Records signaling they’ve made the transition to major touring performers, Williams gives off the vibe of a musician ready to get back onstage.

While the break was necessary, playing onstage in front of an audience is why he got behind a drum kit to begin with.

“It’s a balance,” he says, getting ready to board the plane taking him to the band’s fall opener. “You get time off at home, which recharges you, and then you get back on the road to do what you love to do.

“If you actually love making music, you’ll love making it for people on the road,” he said. “For us, we’re always excited to get back out (on the road), and we’re always excited to get back home at the end of the tour. We’ve figured out a nice work-life balance where we can still be creative and write songs, yet also play for all of these that want to come out and watch us perform our songs every night.”


Who: The Head and the Heart with The Shelters

When: 7:30 p.m., Oct. 2

Where: Red Hat Amphitheater, 500 S. McDowell St., Raleigh.

Cost: $23, $33, $43 or Ticketmaster.com