By: Ashley Kane
Crazyhearse is far from the conventional band that you can pin down to a single genre. They’ve been called everything from “folk-punk” to “gypsy jazz” to just plain old “alternative rock.” The truth is they are all of those things and something more.
The five piece band based in Middlebury, Vermont has found a niche in creating the live experience. David Kloepfer (guitar, banjo, vocals) reunited with Corey Many (drums) and Josh Gallagher (guitar, vocals) after college and soon, their friend Billy Dorsey joined on bass. Just six months ago, Wyatt Beaudry joined the band on keys and they’ve been evolving ever since. Originally, years ago, the band started out painting their faces in charcoal to imitate characters from local folklore. Now, they incorporate those same tales and legends into their lyrics and look to Eastern European influences while composing their sound. Put that on stage with a bunch of guys who have an unmistakable energy and drive to perform, as well as some theatrical elements, and you’re in for a good time.
We were lucky enough to have them join us for Live Music Week in studio and the first song they played for us was “The Beast Beneath” from their first album Holy Water and Gin. It was filled with catchy guitar riffs and David’s voice was both powerful and leading, as the drums meandered in the background.
The band played “Windigo” off of the album IV for us next. The song started off with a strong rock vibe, before subsiding to softer sounds when David started to sing. “To my surprise / my two red eyes” he sang softly, only to build up again to “What have I done/ What have I done”. The song exemplifies folklore theme with the creature of Windigo, who is essentially the cousin of the Sasquatch (picture a creepy, cannibalistic creature). “I’m a big fan of Joe Citro,” David told me. “He’s a Vermont novelist. Our song “Pigman”…it’s directly from his novel. We wrote our own story around that character.” I was amazed by their creativity in pulling legends and stories together with their music, and in the case of “Windigo” adding in some rock chords, a nice drum beat, and a solid electric guitar solo.
Crazyhearse has some new music in the works and their final song gave us a preview of what’s to come within the next year. The song was entitled “Going Hunting” and is representative of a new sound they hope to experiment with. For their new album, they’re going stripped down, with an Americana sound. They call it psychedelic country and the sound was definitely made for live performances, as one can’t help but to move their feet or nod their head along to the beating drums and lively banjo. What really stood out about David, was the way he played the banjo, just like he would the lead guitar. Usually, you see a musician’s technique shift from instrument to instrument and yet David’s style felt consistent, creating a layered sound. They described this last song as “encapsulating the Vermont-style” with its jig-like anthem beats and lyrics of “The boys are going hunting / Run, run, run, run / the shotguns are bumping.”
This last song represents a new wave for Crazyhearse. With their fifth and upcoming album, they hope to create a more unified sound. Of course, that’s hard to do when you’re a band that combines pieces from so many different genres, but that’s also part of the fun for the band.
“We’ll still do it all at the live shows,” David said. “But it will be nice to release something that can be put in a category.”
That said, the band doesn’t ever plan to stay the same. As David said,
“We’re always evolving. I think that’s just essential for me as a song writer. I have to always keep myself engaged in what I’m doing.”
I think that sounds like a pretty perfect plan for Crazyhearse. However, as they continue to develop their sound and write and record new material, there is one thing that Crazyhearse won’t be changing—and that’s their ability to simply have a good time.
When asked if there was a song they really loved to perform, Josh looked over at Wyatt and laughed. “We do a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.” People are always surprised. They love it.”
And here we go again. Should we add pop to the multi-genre, talent that is Crazyhearse? We’ll hold off for now.