Austin’s The Band of Heathens return with Stranger, their most inventive release to date, on September 25. The follow up to 2017’s critically acclaimed Duende, the band recorded this new effort in Portland OR with producer Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket, Modest Mouse). New track “Today is Our Last Tomorrow” is a sardonic take on the divisive nature of media. “I heard it on the news, a version of the truth, was it fact packed or fiction and fable?” begins the song, and the creative video parodies the sentiment with caricatures of world leaders, politicians and media figures.
“This song is about our obsession, both as a culture, and within the media, with doom and gloom,” says co-founding member Ed Jurdi. “If you’re watching the network news channels, it seems like the world is literally going to end once or twice a week. They’re constantly fanning the flames of our divisions and shortcomings, with hardly a mention of the daily triumphs and victories.”
The album title references the famed existential Albert Camus novel and Robert Heinlein’s sci-fi classic Stranger in a Strange Land, but it also touches on the “strangers” who make up the band’s loyal fan base and who continue to support the band during this period with all touring canceled. In lieu of live shows, the band has been spending four nights a week live-streaming personal private concerts to fans, and one night a week publicly live-streaming with the whole band “Zooming” in from their respective homes in California, Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee. Co-founder Gordy Quist notes, “At first it seemed very strange until these walls started coming down and we realized how connected we are by the fabric of music.”
Although a 45 date nationwide tour in promotion of Stranger is booked for the fall, the band realizes the uncertainty due to Covid-19 in the music industry and that re-opening nationwide is a real concern. Whether it is live or via the screen, Band of Heathens are committed to reaching their fans and bringing more “strangers” in as friends.
Photo credit: Jason Quigley