Summer Camp 2018 was certainly a weekend to remember: Dynamite daytime and sundown sets from moe. and Umphrey’s McGee, headlining throwdowns from STS9, Cypress Hill and Slightly Stoopid, a guest-heavy evening with Phil Lesh, lots of bluegrass, and so much more.
Among many of the on-the-rise acts also premiering at the festival were americana five-piece The Drunken Hearts, out of Colorado. Out on the road with a fresh new album, The Prize, The Drunken Hearts have brought their energizing mixture of funky and country all over the nation, alongside touring mates like Greensky Bluegrass and Leftover Salmon, and in recurring sets at events like Northwest String Summit, FloydFest, Electric Forest, Hangtown Music Festival, and more. After a string of shows this summer stretching through Oregon, California, and Colorado, they’ll host their own festival, Yarmony Grass, which has the likes of Billy Strings, Trout Steak Revival, Hot Buttered Rum and a bunch more artists, sharing the stage.
Shortly after their rousing Saturday morning set, The Poke Around had the chance to meet The Drunken Hearts backstage and ask briefly about their album and their plans for the summer.
So your new album, The Prize. You’ve described it in your own words as “a statement to where we are, but also to where we’re going.” Can you elaborate on that?
The Drunken Hearts: [The album} features the whole evolution…The band has grown from an acoustic trio to this rock Americana thing we have now. We’ve even started our next album, and it’s just this progression and evolution of the band, and what our live show is like now, I think we captured that pretty well in the studio, which can be tough. I think it’s just another step in the direction that we’re trying to go. We went up to our friend’s studio, Mountain Star Studio, which is just outside of Boulder. We spent about three days up there, writing and rewriting and perfecting the songs, and getting them to the way we wanted.
How has the process of playing songs from The Prize live been going, as compared to some of your other material?
This album is different from the last one, because we wrote the songs on the spot, at Mountain Star. The previous album, Love and Thirst, those songs had all been prearranged, because we’d been playing them live so much, they were pretty set in stone. We knew how we were going to play them live. With The Prize, the songs were written on the spot in the studio, and we had to figure out how to play them live. This next album will have Tim Carbone from Railroad Earth producing, and we’re doing it for the studio and we’re not even sure how we’ll play them live. The Prize is definitely a reflection of the energy that the band currently has. Hopefully the next record we’ll reflect that too.
The Drunken Hearts members all seem to come from different backgrounds, geographically. When the band took its full lineup, were there a range of different influences coming together?
We definitely all come from different scenes, but I think with this lineup we’ve really found something that gels and grooves well together. I’d say Alex and John come from a more urban, funk kind of a background, whereas Kory and I come from a blues and southern rock background. Andrew comes from a songwriting background.
So, Summer Camp. Are you guys in and out, or do you get to check out any of the other music going on?
Unfortunately, we only pulled in today, and we’re leaving tomorrow morning. But it’s because we’re working, we’re trying to go for it. Having just released our record, we’re plugging it as hard as we can. But we’re going back to Arkansas! And then Oregon! And then California! And then home, eventually.
Speaking of home: Towards the end of the summer, you’ll host your festival, Yarmony Grass. Can you tell me a bit about the inception of that event?
This will be the thirteenth Yarmony Grass. It started in Staybridge, on the Colorado River. and The Drunken Hearts have been hosting six years. We’ve had Railroad Earth, all the String Cheese guys, Greensky, Elephant Revival, so many bands that have had an influence on this band, for sure. It kind of came about because I was such an avid music fan growing up, in my late teens, and I knew that music had to be part of my life somehow. I wasn’t sure exactly how, but it just seemed like throwing a music festival was the thing to do at the time. And then that turned into The Drunken Hearts. It’s such an awesome thing to see all of our friends play at our festival, and then see them play around the country, at places like Summer Camp. And to just continue to build that community spirit that brought us here in the first place.
The Prize is available now on all music streaming formats. Check it out and head to www.thedrunkenhearts.com to find out more.