Hello Heart is a young indie-alternative group from Owatanna, Minnesota consisting of Christian Nelson (vocals), Christian Walz (guitars), and Nick Zimmerman (drums). They’ve recently released their first record titled, The Fight.
The band traveled to Nashville, TN to record the EP with hit-songwriter and producer Eric Arjes (Tim McGraw, Newsboys, Thompson Square) in May 2015.
We had a chance to catch up with the boys from Hello Heart after their return home. Interview below!
Q: Where does the band name stem from?
A: Well, when we were trying to decide on a more permanent band name, we had come down to either Hello Heart or one other option. Up to that point we had been going under the name of a song we wrote called Souls n’ Bones (which we decided could easily get mistaken for a death metal band). Our reasoning behind Hello Heart comes from the idea that we were saying “goodbye to Souls n’ Bones” and “Hello Heart”…
Q: Are there any other names you considered before going with Hello Heart?
A: Many. I think Hello Heart is the 5th band name we’ve had in the past 3 years. We could never come up with a name we were satisfied with and would always say our previous names were just temporary. With Hello Heart I think we’ve finally found a name we are satisfied with and we can finally enjoy.
Q: What are the difficulties of being part time musicians?
A: You have to split your focus between your music and your real world responsibilities. It’s almost like starting a small business. You have to find your market, cater to that market, pour your time, effort, and resources just trying to be successful in that market.
Q: What would you consider the highlight of your career so far?
A: Nashville! It was amazing to get the opportunity to travel down as a group of friends and see your hard work finally pay off! We got to take a week and relax, hang out, and work with some incredible people and create this group of songs that we are really proud to share! You’d catch yourself sitting there just thinking, “how crazy is this? A couple of kids went from practicing these songs in a basement in Owatonna to recording an album in Nashville!”
Q: You had planned a few days to record with Eric Arjes at his studio in Nashville. However, your bassist and co-founder of Hello Heart quit before the trip.
A: We don’t want to go into too many details, but he decided to pursue other options without us. He left us in a bad position with his departure happening shortly before we left, but we worked through it, and can honestly say we achieved a better product because of it.
Q; Are you currently looking for a new bassist, or do you currently have a new guy lined up?
A: Yeah! Well, we had a really good friend Pat Rhode who was wanting to tag along with us to Nashville, and then we had our bassist quit unexpectedly. Since Pat is a multi-instrumentalist and great musician, we asked if he wanted to come along and play on the album as well. It was great to have him there with us for the whole experience!
Q; The song “Run” was written days before you left for the studio, and seemed to be somewhat of a response to the situation, your bassist left you in. Has he heard, or given any comments on the song?
A: Actually, our guitarist had come to us with a basic idea and a chorus written for the song, and we just started messing around with it. So we got our vocal melodies down and started to write the rest of the lyrics, and although we didn’t write it with our whole bassist situation in mind, it ended up relating to what we we were developing. When we got our basic song down, it ended up being something where we wanted to see what we could develop it into when we went into the studio. As far as we know, our former bassist hasn’t heard the songs, and because of the situation, I doubt we will find out his opinions.
Q: What was your process for choosing the songs that you would record in Nashville?
A: Well, we went to Nashville with our “short-list” of the songs we had narrowed it down to, and then played through the songs for our producer Eric to see what he liked…and in the end we all agreed that these were the songs we wanted people to hear the most.
Q; “Heart of Winter” was recorded by three-time grammy award winning producer Mark Heimermann. What was that experience like?
A: Mark was great! Lucky for us Mark lives in Minnesota, so we travelled about an hour up to his studio and got to record our first song with him. It was kind of surreal to meet the guy who produced some of the albums you had grown up listening to, but he was really fun and relaxed. We showed up with a simple song with one acoustic guitar, and ended up getting a completely different product in the studio. Heart of Winter is different from all the other songs on the album because it is more of a straight folk song that relies on it’s simple lyrics and melodies to stand out.
Q: Do you have a tour planned for this EP release?
A: Being our first release, we aren’t planning any sort of full tour for the summer, and we’ll just be sort of adding shows here and there. We are hoping to get more of a tour schedule going this Fall.
Q: Which do you enjoy most; creating the music or performing?
A: As of now, definitely creating the music. Although, there is nothing that compares to playing live and being able to engage people with our songs on stage. People sometimes take for granted the blood, sweat, and tears of putting together the songs to play live, and don’t realize how much work it actually takes to create a product that we can not only market to the industry and fans, but actually enjoy ourselves as well. Creating an album is the final stage of the actual creation process, but playing live is where you get to share your creation with everyone and where you get to see your creation come alive in front of countless strangers.
Q: What makes your music different?
A: Our vast influences and genres kind tend to blend into one product that gives us our sound. We have similar artists we all enjoy, but we also have different influences and backgrounds that we bring to the table in the creation process. In an industry that has so many incredible artists, it’s not really the sound that we want to stand out. What we want people to take away from our songs is the enjoyment that we experience ourselves writing these songs and bringing them to life.
Q: What is your definition of success?
A: Each of us want to see this become a career in the future in one form or another, and we each want to continue creating music as long as possible. We want to be able to share these songs with as many people as we can, and if they can somehow enjoy our music as much as we do, then these songs and our time have been well spent.
The EP is currently available for streaming. Physical copies can be purchased through www.helloheartband.com