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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hearts of Stone Begin Anew, Hit Harder

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For Hearts of Stone singer Neil Weingarth, the latest version of his band has come as a bit of a revelation. After years of trying different genres and different lineups, Weingarth says that the new straight-up rock 'n' roll approach is helping the band hit their stride like never before.

“We did a rebirth here,” Weingarth says. “We kind of broke up for a while, but we're back together and changed the lineup a bit.”

With the new lineup, the band has opted to go in a more hard-rocking direction. Instead of the folk and country they mostly played since beginning in 2005, the band now features a drums, guitars and bass rock 'n' roll assault.

“We probably have a lot of '70s sound going on because we're pretty into that kind of thing,” Weingarth says. “But we keep a lot of modern stuff going on. We'll steal sounds from Death Cab for Cutie or Ted Leo, and even Fu Manchu and Queens of the Stone Age, but we're mostly going old-school with the late-'70s stuff.”

For Weingarth, this marks the third phase of the band. In 2005, the group's initial lineup released a self-titled debut. After gaining members and losing a member, the second lineup released an album in 2009 that was part Weingarth solo and part band effort. That album was intended as an “exit record” for the band's breakup; it almost was a solo album, until Weingarth invited the band to help finish the songs.

“And now we're on the third version of the group and writing songs for our new record, which will be 'Mach 3,' if you will,” Weingarth says. “There's no acoustic guitar or banjos on this one. It's all rock 'n' roll.”

Things have happened quickly over the past year, following Weingarth getting the band together to show songs he'd been demoing. While they waited for a drummer, Weingarth, bassist Alex Krenke and guitarist Zach Schulze used a drum machine and started nailing down the songs. Christian Hansen, a “madman” on the drums, soon rounded out the band's lineup.

“After many beers and barbecues, we definitely nailed down the songs and decided it's time to show people what's going on,” Weingarth says. “You just get that obsession where you've got to show somebody and got to play some shows and rock them out. It's a pretty cool way to do it. Those songs could have just sat in a closet and no one heard them. But we got together and made it work.”

In addition to the new sound, there's also much better chemistry. In the past Weingarth would write songs mostly by himself, but now he turns to Schulze for riffs to write songs around and, as a band, they develop the songs together.

“In the past we didn't have that tight chemistry. I wrote the songs and told people how I'd like them to play it and how to figure it out,” Weingarth says. “Now it's a much more fluid group effort, which is cool because it makes it a lot easier to work together and make something happen. And that's probably why we have a whole record ready to record.”

The band is currently recording their new album, which they hope to release by the end of the year.

“From that, we put a few of the demos on our Bandcamp page for our friends to hint at what we're up to,” Weingarth says. “But I assure you that the best songs haven't been recorded yet. We're getting really excited about some of the new ones.”

Hearts of Stone play the Cactus Club on Friday, July 6, at 9 p.m. with Sinnet, Capuan Life and Archie Powell and the Exports.
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