Last month we celebrated 50 years since man first stepped foot on the Moon, so it’s very timely that post-rock quartet Heron should also release their space mission-themed second album just three days after that landmark.
The band, from rural north-west Pennsylvania, have honed an intriguing instrumental post-rock sound that includes delightful ambiances that build towards heavier rocky sections.
The band shared Sun Release, the title track and final track from their recent second album, to have a listen to. It opens with slow plods of guitar that crescendo then drop into the chilled, slightly more adventurous guitar. At just before three minutes in more instruments join in and it builds into a more upbeat mass of atmospheric rock led by searing guitars as the track comes to a close.
This gives us a good taste of what to expect from the album, with plenty of ambient sections answered by bursts of energetic post-rock goodness. To find out more, we had a chat with guitarist Boyd Lewis to get the inside track on Heron and their music. Read on below…
GR: Who are Heron?
BL: “Boyd Lewis (guitar), Ben Blick (guitar), Eric Morelli, and Nate Blick (drums). We are all from a rural area in NW PA, that is commonly referred to as the PA Wilds. You can do a quick search on that and see where we’re at out here. It’s a pretty incredible place!
“We had all grown up playing music and had met each other early on that way. Not playing music as a group at that point though. Ben and Nate always were in a hardcore/screamo band together, I think since Nate was probably 7, and I remember playing in bands with people that were in other bands with Eric. We kind of all danced around one another a bit at the time I suppose. Probably for the best!
“As time went on, we all moved away after high school. A couple of us did the college thing, a couple of us worked and traveled. I was out in the Midwest for about 8 years, myself. For one reason or another we had all found our way back here by 2010 or 2011.
“Our band as it is came together for the most part in 2014. Nate and I started getting together once a week to play at his place. We invited Ben after a few weeks, and that was history for a while. We never really had any intention of being a ‘real band’ from the outset. We were having fun playing together. Something started happening in those sessions though and we had actual songs written together before too long. Eric came on board to play bass with us in 2015, and we recorded with him as the engineer for our first record in the summer of 2016.”
You just released Sun Release. What should people be expecting from the song? What inspired you to write it?
BL: “Yes we did. And the full record came out on 7/19/19. Possibly even by the time this interview will print – who knows? (Yep it did – our bad…)
“There’s a ‘Space Mission/Journey’ type concept to this entire record. We spent quite a lot of time with a storyboard for how we wanted each track to be individually – but with the whole record in mind at each step. This track has a fairly long and floating start that fell into place with where we wanted to end up in the journey for the album.
“As the final track – this is the end of the mission/journey. We wanted to create a track that could capture the feeling of flashing back, as well as a triumphant end to a long trial. Symbolic to us in a lot of ways – but that was the objective. How did we do?”
GR: We think you did pretty damn well! How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
BL: “I’ll generally say instrumental rock with an ambient feel, or something similar. I do my very best to not dive down the rabbit-hole of what post-rock is during those conversations! For whatever reason, it’s much easier to describe many of the things and constructs that post-rock is not, instead of describing what it actually is.
“Genre-wise, we do fall into the categories of post-rock, instrumental rock, modern classical, etc… None of that was intentional on our part from the beginning either, but just what comes out naturally to us. The records we make are very honest representations of our sound. Both of our albums now have been recorded as us performing live in the same room together.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
BL: “We are four people that truly enjoy the process of what we do. That is why we write music! Individually, I’m sure that we all have our own intrinsic motivators – but it’s always been about the group for us. I’ve never been in or witnessed a group or band where I’ve seen the level of collaboration that we have in our writing process.
“Sun Release is also the first time that we have intentionally written about a common theme for an entire project. We have been working very hard to fine-tune our craft and hope to continue to grow that way. Writing a score for a film at some point is also a thing that we all see as a common goal, but making records is something that we will always be doing no matter what.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
BL: “As a group, I think these are the biggest influences that we share. Ones that we have all been listening to for a very long time, and continue to do so. In no particular order: This Will Destroy You, Pink Floyd, The Appleseed Cast and Sigur Ros.”
GR: What have you got coming up through the rest of 2019?
BL: “Definitely new music. Our new album is out now! We have had the pleasure of rolling some of it out as singles throughout the past few months, but we’re very excited to get the whole thing out there. That’s going to be a huge milestone for us!
“We recently hit the road with our very good friends in Man Mountain (Detroit, MI) for a run of shows throughout the Midwest, and we have a couple of shows in Pittsburgh in the near future that have not officially been announced yet as well. Hoping to get a good run through the East Coast later in the year as well.
“We are always writing and saving ideas for things down the road, but no set plans on recording just yet. I think all of us need to see this album through and give it some time to just be. This one was a very long process!
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about you/your music?
BL: “Just how appreciative we are of everyone that listens. We released our first album with little to no expectations on our end, in all honesty. The reception that we have gotten from our music community and listeners since then is what prompted us to go at it again with another album.
“We got to check some pretty big items off of our bucket list with this record, as the quality of the end product is always a thing that we are focused on. Getting to work with Abbey Road Studios was an incredible experience. We also got to film our music video (coming soon) with H Haden Hammond (X-Men, Harry Potter, Avengers, No Country For Old Men, etc)! That entire process was literally and figuratively out of this world for us. We really hope everyone continues to enjoy whatever comes next from us.”