London band The Wandering Hearts were discovered within half an hour of uploading their first demo online, which led to a major label record deal. It’s easy to see why. Their debut single ‘Wish I Could’ was released through Decca Records this May and it’s testament to their ability to captivate with wondrous alt-country, folk and Americana songwriting and astonish with cathartic, harmony-laden vocals. In the middle of recording their eagerly awaited debut album, we caught up with the band’s female members Tara and Chess.
‘Wish I Could’ is incredible. What made you choose the song as your first single?
Tara: “For me, it was always unquestionably the right first single.”
Chess: “It was one of the first songs we wrote as a band, so it’s been with us for a really long time. We could have easily got bored with it, but the fact it’s stuck with us is testament to the song.”
Tara: “If you listen to ‘Wish I Could’ it sounds like a nice uplifting song, but the lyrics are actually quite sad and bittersweet. For some reason that’s what we do, we either write in a kind of minor sound and the lyrics are optimistic or the complete opposite. With ‘Wish I Could’, it kind of felt like the best introduction to the band and it also feels quite wide in its appeal.”
How did The Wandering Hearts get together?
Tara: “I met Tim about 18 months ago at a gig we were playing at individually and we just got along brilliantly. So, we just met up for a coffee and Tim showed me some of the stuff he’d written, but you could just hear it needed some other harmonies. Through mutual friends we got put in touch with Chess and AJ. Then in his little flat in Crouch End, we got together with some gin and tonic.”
Chess: “Tim had sent us a song so we kind of came knowing this one song. We just sat down and sang it and everyone just found their place so easily. Then we recorded it and within like half an hour we had a message from guy called Steve. So he came down to our second rehearsal and he’s now our manager.”
What are your plans for the rest of 2017?
Chess: “Hopefully we’re going to have a second single coming out in July. We’ve just finished recording the album and that’s due for release in September. We’re doing loads of festivals and gigs throughout the summer too.”
What attracted you to country music as a basis for your sound?
Chess: “When we first started out it wasn’t ever really country. We all had different influences and as a combination it’s created what our sound is. We’ve ended up with a real mixture of alternative Americana and folk with rock, blues and traditional country influences.”
Tara: “I think the thing that’s synonymous about country music is just great truthful lyricism with really epic storytelling. I think that’s naturally why we’ve got references to country. As our sound has evolved, I think it’s become harder to pin down to any single genre.”
What inspirations do The Wandering Hearts have?
Tara: “I think what really makes me and Chess work together so well is our harmonies. One of our big influences are First Aid Kit.”
Chess: “When we first started I probably non-stop listened to all of their albums. I love how their harmonies aren’t obvious and they just weave in and out of each other and you can’t tell who’s singing what.”
Chess: “My uncles are singer-songwriters so I kind of grew up listening to them singing their own songs, as well as Simon and Garfunkel songs.”
Tara: “I’m a massive fan of a folk singer called Cara Dillon, I’ve loved her for my whole life. After her gigs you can meet her and go and get a CD signed, but I never want to meet her because I’m like “What do you say?”. She played in Colchester the other day and I made sure I was at the end of the queue. Then I met her and I was like “Hello…ummm I’m a bit nervous” – I was literally shaking.”
You headlined St Pancras Old Church earlier this year. Have you got any other venues you want to play as The Wandering Hearts?
Chess: “Union Chapel is one we would love to play. Churches just seem to really suit our sound and it means we can use the acoustics. At St Pancras, it was so nice to see lots of people that have been on this journey with us and loads of new faces as well. It felt really intimate and special.”
Tara: “Tim and I are both from the Midlands, so we would love to play Birmingham Symphony Hall. I just think it’s one of the most beautiful buildings and the acoustics in there are incredible.”
Chess: “AJ mentioned the other day how he would love to play to Grand Ole Opry. That’s definitely on the list.”