Spirited Indie Folk aggregation The Head and the Heart began five years ago when Southern California native Josiah Johnson relocated to Seattle for graduate school and met fellow transplant Jonathan Russell through Seattle’s open mic community. The pair began singing and writing together, and quickly brought in keyboardist Kenny Hensley, who moved to Seattle to study score composition. Drummer Tyler Williams was a friend of Russell’s in Richmond, Va., and when Russell sent Williams a demo of “Down in the Valley,” a song from the band’s eventual first album, Williams dropped everything and headed West. Chris Zasche bartended at one of the band’s open mic spots and offered his bass services, although he’d only played guitar and piano previously; Rose Thielen was invited to join after the band was fully formed.
Mere weeks after assembling — the band’s name refers to the tension between the intellectual argument against forming the band and the emotional desire to do it anyway — The Head and the Heart recorded and burned copies of its debut album and packaged them in homemade denim sleeves. Local stores couldn’t stock them fast enough.
Within a year, The Head and the Heart was signed to Sub Pop.