In the mid-to-late 2000s, when Schuyler Ankele (vocals/bass), Jimmy Blair (drums/vocals) and Brian Johannsen (guitar/vocals) were tearing things up in their native Denver in their previous incarnation as part of a popular punk band, they had the privilege of touring with New Jersey pop/punkers Bouncing Souls. That group’s lead singer gave their fellow indie rockers some simple but timeless advice: “Don’t be so obsessed with the end game, enjoy the journey, not the goal.” What started out as clever lyrics to pay tribute to Bouncing Souls has transformed into the motto of the new alt rock power trio the three formed from the ashes of their old band in 2009: “No, we’re not letting up. No, we’re not giving in. Now we can’t let it go, Heart & Soul Radio!”
“Ain’t No Life Like The Low Life,” the infectious and propulsive, harmony laden first single and clever video (styled after the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”) from their new album Thieves, perfectly captures the travails, challenges, near misses with major labels and various personal struggles the three members of Heart & Soul Radio have been through since they first joined forces as members of another pop-punk band in the early 2000s. Johannsen, who has a master’s as a sound engineer, started out as the group’s producer but then joined them as their guitarist when they played the Warped Tour. Collectively in their previous incarnations, they have played over 500 shows throughout North America, including the Warped Tour from 2004-2008. They also had songs on MTV, FUSETV and the film “American Pie Presents: Band Camp” and recorded an album that hit #2 on the Billboard Heat Seekers chart.
Truly embodying the DIY Spirit, Heart & Soul Radio does everything themselves – from producing and recording to building their own web page, doing their own photography with a timer, photoshopping and shooting and editing their videos. The dynamic clip they created for “Ain’t No Life Like The Low Life” was shot with a single camera, a tripod and no cameraman – and then edited by the band.
Over the years, these rock and roll vets have experienced drawn out band breakups, deals falling through at the final hour, tragic passings of fellow band members, drug addiction and alcoholism. On the plus side, they’ve toured internationally, performed stadium shows in front of tens of thousands and have built up a passionate fan base. Inviting their audiences to become a key part of their charismatic, high energy performances, Heart & Soul Radio has performed at top venues throughout Denver and Colorado Springs. Their mainstays include the Gothic Theatre and the Oriental Theatre, as well as the Marquis Theater, The Summit Music Hall and The Black Sheep in Colorado Springs. They’ve also built a solid base in Omaha in neighboring Nebraska. They launched their recording career with uniquely titled projects, Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.
Thieves is filled with single after single (12 tracks) of catchy, powerful, well thought out, vocal harmony laden rock tunes that blend inward looking serious themes (what Johannsen calls “our own version of therapy”) with clever lyrics and crafty titles. These include “The Walking Dead (Not The Award Winning TV Series)” – about those who live their life without passion – “Roll With the Hunches,” “Fu Guys, I Love You,” “Starved for Starlight” and “I Slept With Justin Bieber and All I Got Was This Stupid Song” – written defiantly after a radio station told them they needed more sonic effects to be commercially viable. The subtitle of the track the album title derives from, “Thieves in the Night (True Scars)” refers to all the negative things and struggles indie bands like theirs have to put up with as they work towards their goals.