It's no secret that Austin is home to many incredible musicians and wonderfully unique talent, often flamboyantly quirky. But I'd like to introduce a band that isn't trying to reinvent the wheel; one that does not need to rely on the bells and whistles or a quirky hook. Because their talent, stage presence and rock-solid original music is the hook. Black Heart Saints are a mainstay in the Austin rock scene and I've zero doubt they'll soon be one of the nation's top emerging acts. They have taken it upon themselves to show the music world what can be accomplished with talent, dedication and hard work. Comprising of bassist Ian C.G., Drummer Nathan Flores, Guitarist Mark Sean, and Vocalist Josh Ross they aptly introduce themselves to me as "a solid group of guys that are ready to live that Rock n Roll Fantasy."
I was entirely blown away the first time I saw these guys hit the stage. Rightfully so, these rock saints have earned themselves hefty comparisons in their relatively short time in the Austin music scene; Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue, Buckcherry and Guns N Roses. Sporting a simple-is-best approach and some seriously seductive original rock anthems, they describe themselves as "dangerous & dirty, with a distinct groove steeped in classic rock." Their music is heavy enough to entertain 500,000 bikers at a rally in Sturgis, but it's also the type of rock you might play when mom's in the car and reminiscing about her fangirl days jamming to Whitesnake and Zeppelin. It's neatly wrapped in an attractive package; intense stage presence (Ian's grooves might be the icing on the cake), hair flip perfection and Josh's terrific vocals sailing over the stalwart reliability of perfectly big rock riffs. It's also modernly punchy. It's smooth, but it's got one hell of an aftertaste that brings you back for more. These tasty, intimate local shows are undoubtedly the precursor to a fruitful career. As Mark of The Rockpit enthuses, it's "another bright light in the otherwise gloomy galaxy of modern rock."
Black Heart Saints debuted at Austin's SXSW in 2014 and have steadily racked up a resume of rock royalty opening for Slash, Sevendust, Pop Evil, Coheed and Cambria, Steel Panther, POD, Blacktop Mojo and Texas rock legends, The Toadies. They're not stopping here. With accolades including a Top 10 in Austin Chronicle's Music Awards and a stint in the ESPN X Games, they released full-length album "Alive" shortly before their Road to Sturgis Tour in 2017 which culminated at the abovementioned world-renowned biker rally of 500,000-plus. If that doesn't fortify your rock resume, I don't know what would.
They've seen a big year in 2018, playing both intimate local shows and opening for acts as big as Slash featuring Myles Kennedy. It was a year to get noticed - and noticed, they were. 2019 started with a bang after they won Pop Evil's Be Legendary song contest with a spectacular acoustic songwriting entry (watch that HERE), earning themselves a coveted spot on Houston's House of Blues stage to a packed venue; "wow the fans, they showed up, they rocked out, and accepted us as one of their own that night… We can't wait to do it again" says Josh.
It's impossible not to acknowledge their stunning success in a city saturated with music; artists and bands vying for attention (often quite literally) on every street corner. I ask the guys about the unique challenges of hailing from the live music capital of the world. "Austin has a different mentality than the rest of Texas when it comes to music. You have to bring your A-game every time because live music can be found everywhere" says Mark. It's tough to get noticed and tough to gain a loyal audience when options abound. But that is exactly what they're doing. Josh prefers to "focus on just doing what we love and feeding off [that] energy... do it because you love it, don't do it for the attention. Attention will come." And he's not wrong.
They've got a lot planned for 2019; new music, a tour and goals to hit festivals circuit. "Sonic Temple would be a great fit for us" says Mark. They're planning for some new releases soon, and Josh cryptically tells me; "we are in the studio now. We want to challenge ourselves. We're working on new methods of creating and getting out new content." If it's anything like their last album ALIVE, it will not disappoint.
I'm almost done with the interview, but ask Josh what a newbie could expect from their show. "Pure, authentic rock. We don't have all the big bells and whistles; we rely on the music and performance to take [our audience] back to the root of things." It's a keep-it-simple approach and with their collective raw talent and Josh's vocal power, we couldn't agree more. It's that coveted 'I saw them at a tiny local dive bar before they were a big deal' moment and if I can give you any recommendation? Take advantage of this now. Hit those local shows while you still can, grab that grainy IG video proof and a moment to meet & greet the guys before they're selling out stadiums and you miss that opportunity.
Don’t miss seeing Black Heart Saints on tour this year - their tour schedule is HERE. Get a taste for their music on Spotify and you can find their website HERE.
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