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Kind Hearted Strangers Sit with Stillness

by Head Above Music

With rich harmonies and colorful songwriting, Kind Hearted Strangers bring back a taste of American roots into the world of rock n’ roll they fell in love with. Based in Boulder, CO – the Strangers feature songwriter/vocalist Marc Townes, bassist Marshall Carlson, percussionist/vocalist Brian Ireland, and guitarist Kevin Hinder, who’s skillful and dynamic embellishments add another unique layer to the band’s raw authentic sound.

“…The fiery, eclectic Kind Hearted Strangers stand high above their counterparts, evoking a loose jam-band charm with vibrant, pop-sensible folk that takes influence from the classics without spending too much time dwelling in the past. With Townes’ vibrant, engaging songwriting, Hinder’s virtuosic and seemingly limitless range on guitar, and Ireland’s drumming that keeps the song’s contained while also stretching them to their limits, Kind Hearted Strangers’ musical dexterity far exceeds their short time as a band. With a sound already so fully-formed and grounded, guessing where they’re going next is an adventure unto itself.” – Behind the Scene Press

Marc, how has COVID-19 affected you, your band, your community?
This long period of isolation from the world of live music has given us the opportunity to sit down and create new material, to grow as artists on the creative side and to give all of our attention to the completion of our first full-length record. On a personal level, there’s been a lot of freedom to step away from the constant grind of booking, marketing, managing, and promoting events – and instead focus on the thing that actually matters the most: the music, the art. To sit with stillness – however uncomfortable it may be, with all possible emotions coming up – is a necessary part of being a human being, and even more necessary to be creative. Quarantine has been a forced opportunity to explore that stillness. This pandemic has been tragic for many communities and businesses, particularly in the world of entertainment, but I think that the music community will continue to adapt in creative ways, and ultimately be extremely supportive when we get back to playing and attending live concerts. I tend to be of the mindset that all things happen for a reason, and I think that we’re going to come out of all of this in a much better place than we ever were before. Music, art, all experiences will be more meaningful.

Tell us about the song “Red & Blue” and the music video you guys made for it.

I wrote this song on Election night 4 years ago, and while I wish the message behind it wasn’t still so relevant, it has only grown to mean more. It’s a song about division – a reflection of frustration, living and watching this country turn from the ‘United’ to the ‘Divided States’ of America. It’s a hopeful call to action – asking the People to use their voices, to speak up, because it is the only way that we can move forward. For the same reason this is our band name. This song came into existence, because All Human Beings on this Earth are Equal. From that same sentiment, we came up with the idea for the music video, to show faces of people from all across the country, from all different backgrounds. Each of us in the band comes from different corners of the country, so we reached out to our friends, family, and fans and asked them to join us in spreading this message of hope. When we would watch these divisive news programs, we would always feel that either side was a poor representation of how we as Americans, as humans, really are. The vast majority of us are good, kind, caring people. The video and the song are meant to be an example of this. That ‘We The People’ are all in this together and it’s up to all of us to make this a better place.

What are you working on right now?
More music. There’s something very liberating about getting this album out into the world. Aside from it being our first full length record and just having it down – it has opened the floodgates, so to speak. For me, I think it provided evidence that I could write a lot of material, have stuff to choose from and pick out the best parts to create something cohesive. There’s something nice about finishing a recording, or even playing a really good set that makes me want to just go write more music. I love it and I hope it’s a feeling that stays with me. We had some really fun rehearsals for the recent livestream, and a few of them started with loose jamming that resulted in new material. I think we’re all ready to make more. So, I’m writing a lot of material, and we’re experimenting more with sounds as a band. It’s an exciting feeling.
What currently inspires you the most?
Reading. I think I’m finally getting to all of that summer reading I was supposed to be doing in high school. One of the most important things you can do as a songwriter, is to read books. You need input to create output, and it doesn’t just come from music. It comes from all around you. If you hold something in your hands and read something every day, the writing part just comes easier. I’ve been having a lot of fun with Tom Wolfe and the good Doctor, Hunter S. Thompson – but really just reading anything is so good for you.
Who are you listening to these days? 
Daniel Romano’s Outfit – an old friend of mine plays bass for Daniel Romano so I’ve had an eye on his work for a while. They released 10+ albums this year since they couldn’t tour. The guy is a powerhouse and crosses genres all the time, but my favorite release of them all is the Live record which is pure rock n’ roll. The reimagined versions of his songs flow into one another with so much energy. I’m trying to get more comfortable with just letting songs out into the world and knowing that they can take new life when you play them live (Dylan was notorious for always playing things differently). After all, a recording is just a moment in time. It’s all inspiring in so many ways. He just cranks them out and lets them go. I like the idea that quantity can produce quality. 
Bonny Light Horseman – a newer supergroup that features one of my favorite writers/artists Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats along with Anaïs Mitchell & Josh Kaufman. It’s just beautiful work all around and a major inspiration sonically.
Jim Croce – it always comes back to Jim for me. The definition of timeless.


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