The Oh Hellos are developing the reputation of being a live band you have to see. "I think there's a lot of comradery, both amongst us on stage and with the crowd," singer Tyler Heath told us during the band's recent session. "At the end of the set we pull out all the stops...we go wild!" That kind of thing usually goes over pretty well with crowds. See Exhibit A: a clip of the band sending The Newport Folk Festival into a tizzy earlier this summer.
When The Oh Hellos came by our offices, it (understandably) took us a little while to take stock of everyone in their band/entourage. There are a lot of them...they can clearly overwhelm a stage, make a big, dramatic, and joyous sound, and win over a crowd. But what was so interesting about our session was just how intimate and personal a band of their size can also sound. The music of their new album Dear Wormwood, along with 2 albums before that, is that kind of rollicking, folk-country that'll get you clapping your hands, stomping your feet, and shouting along. The Oh Hellos feel so so good. But there are delicate moments to be had as well, moments where singer Maggie Heath's voice flutters like a butterfly in a light breeze of finger picked guitar or banjo. If the band pushes too hard, that lovely little butterfly is doomed.
It's moments like these that get emphasized in our fabulous session with the Texan 7 piece (actually, we think there are more of them...we're pretty convinced not all of the band showed for this session!). This session is quiet and serene, but no less easy to sing along to. Seriously, "Bitter Water", "Eat You Alive", and "Hello My Old Heart" demand it. And as our own Erin Walsh noted, "there's something so personal about a song that you can easily sing along to." So while the band didn't jump and dance and leap into the arms of our production crew (though, wouldn't that have been something?), we too felt the comradery which Tyler speaks of. Now, so can you with the release of this uber-charming new session.
- I think there's a lot of, just, comradery. Both amongst us stage and then with the crowd. I mean, at the end of the set we get really, we pull out all the stops, we go wild. A couple of people occasionally get carried away and leave the stage, run out into the crowd and dance with the crowd during some of the songs. And I think there was a guy in the crowd who was so excited, that when all the musicians came back to the stage, he just came with them, and we all sang the last bit at the end on the stage together and it was just the coolest, he was so excited. We just enveloped him into the fold and he's just one of us and it's great, no. He said to me, child, I'm afraid for your soul These things that you're after, they can't be controlled This beast that you're after will eat you alive and spit out your bones She'll string you along and she'll sell you a lie But there's nothing but pain on the edge of a knife There is no courage in flirting with fear to prove you're alive - So, Tyler and I are brother and sister. So we've known each other my whole life. I'm the younger sister, so. And so yeah, I mean, growing up, we got along pretty okay so it just kinda worked out well for us to write music together. - Yeah, I think we've always had a really supportive and positive friendship, not just we were siblings, but we've been friends I think our whole lives. I was almost four when Maggie was born, and I was just thrilled to have a new friend in the house, I think. Yeah, she'll eat you alive Not that we lost control of our lives and we're just doing this now involuntarily. We didn't ever expect for this to be like our career. Like we wrote a song for our mom's birthday, as a gift, because we had no money. And so we wrote her this song that mostly just made fun of her, because that's... I guess because we're great children. But we recorded this song and it was fun to do and it ended up being actually kind of catchy, and mom liked it a lot. And so we thought, "Maybe we should do one or two more. " And then out of that came our first EP, and then the positive, still small, but the positive response to that made us think that maybe, you know, this would be fun. We've still got more to say, let's do an album. I know who you are now Yeah, so the new album does a couple of things differently than our previous records have. Musically it gets, kind of goes into some darker territory in terms of tone and even chords and sounds. We put a lot more care and time and effort into like how the lyrics are structured, and meter and rhyme schemes and stuff. We've paid attention to that in the past, but we really, we were pushing ourselves really hard to really bring our A-game, I guess, this time. Hello my old heart How have you been Are you still there inside my chest? I've been so worried You've been so still Barely beating at all Oh, don't leave me here alone Don't tell me that we've grown For having loved a little while Oh, I don't want to be alone I want to find a home And I want to share it with you Hello my old heart It's been so long Since I've given you away And every day I add another stone To the walls I built around you To keep you safe Oh, don't leave me here alone Don't tell me that we've grown For having loved a little while Oh, I don't want to be alone I want to find a home And I want to share it with you Hello my old heart How have you been? How is it, being locked away? Well don't you worry In there, you're safe And it's true, you'll never beat But you'll never break Nothing lasts forever Some things aren't meant to be But you'll never find the answers Until you set your old heart free Until you set your old heart free Hello my old heart Hello my old heart - For me, my whole reason for writing music is usually, first of all, for myself, as like kind of a pick-me-up or a pep talk or just to encourage myself, and then the fact that it resonates with other people is awesome. I think our whole deal is just like optimism, even in the negative, dark situations. Oh fair and flighty love, My aerolight above, The only dove I see. Could you love me more, If by the sun and moon I swore, That I would never flee? Well I still taste you on my lips. Lovely, bitter water. The terrible fire of my old regret, Is honey on my tongue And I know I shouldn't love you. I know I shouldn't love you, But I do. I feel it in my soul, I feel the empty hole, The cup that can't be filled. I feel it in my blood, In the fire and in the flood, The beast that can't be killed. Even now you mark my steps. Lovely, bitter water. All the days of our delight are Poison in my veins. - We write and hope that it comes across kind of a little cinematically. A lot of the songs begin from a place of a literal image, or the idea of a scene. Like if this were a movie, what part of the movie would it be? - Or if this were a color, what would the color look like? - Yeah, we had a song that we only kept describing it as it's a very green song. And I don't remember what we even meant by that now. I assume, maybe, like trees. Or like, foliage or something. I am not a fool entire, No, I know what is coming. You'll bury me beneath the trees, I climbed when I was a child. I know I shouldn't love you, But I do...
The Oh Hellos are an eclectic folk rock duo from San Marcos, Texas consisting of siblings Tyler Heath and Maggie Heath. They are currently an independent band, and have released three albums, The Oh Hellos, Through the Deep, Dark Valley, and Dear Wormwood as well as a Christmas EP, The Oh Hellos' Family Christmas Album. When playing live, Maggie and Tyler often bring along a large ensemble of musicians as their backing band. During the first days of October 2015, music service Spotify noticed a significant rise in the amount of plays of the latest The Oh Hellos songs in the New York City area.