It’s been almost three years since Clyde Petersen’s earnest-warm-fuzzies pop band, Your Heart Breaks, has played an indoor show. Because the singer is immunocompromised, he hasn’t felt comfortable performing in front of a room packed with people who’d likely be happily singing along while inadvertently filling the air with microscopic breath particles and spittle. It’s understandable.

But tonight at the Tractor, Your Heart Breaks finally returns to the club stage, opening for the Cave Singers. Petersen has been practicing singing with a mask on, and he’ll be joined by cellist Lori Goldston and guitarist Corey Brewer.

“We’re gonna play mostly new stuff,” he says. “I recorded a live set, sent it to Corey and Lori to write their parts, and we’re gonna get together on the stage and play it.”

“You haven’t rehearsed together?” I asked. 

“No, but I think the three of us thrive in the environment that doesn’t involve too much rehearsal. We all enjoy improvisation ... and danger.”

Your Heart Breaks’ discography goes back two decades, but tonight expect to hear songs from Drone Butch Blues, 2019's emotional concept album based on books written by LGBTQ authors, and (hopefully) at least a few tracks from the just-completed record that’ll be released on Kill Rock Stars next year.

Honestly, Your Heart Breaks could play anything tonight and I’d still tell everyone in the world to go to the show; it’s been too long, and we should be thankful for whatever we get.

What else has Petersen been doing while COVID-19 ravaged the world? Read on to find out!

I want to talk a little bit about Drone Butch Blues before we talk about the new record. One aspect that’s so intriguing when you listen to it is the different drones for each song. What was the inspiration behind that?

I’m sure that working for [Pacific Northwest noise legends] Earth for five years had something to do with it [laughs]. Being in a space with Earth and Lori [Goldston] and Corey [Brewer], they’re all pretty invested in the importance of space within music. That was a lesson I happily learned from them throughout the years.

Is the drone filling space or is it creating space?

I think it’s both. It opens up this single layer that holds its own and can be spacious at the same time. The thing I love about the drone is the opportunity that it offers. It’s a little bit like when you go to the ocean, when you’re standing on the beach you don’t really need anything else. You have the ocean and its immensity. It offers a space to just be yourself and reflect on yourself, or you can add to it and create a new world. It’s kind of like a flatline for dreaming in some ways.

Is the new record also a concept record? I saw the words “pop punk” mentioned in one of your Instagram posts about it and got very excited.

I think since I was a teenager I wanted to be on Kill Rock Stars. When I sat down to write this record, I just asked myself, “What is the Your Heart Breaks Kill Rock Stars Record? What does it mean to you? What does it sound like? Who are the influences on the label and how can you write a record that is a voice within all of those voices on the label?” I don’t know, that sounds dorky!

It was fun to start by doing a cover of [Kill Rock Stars band] the Frumpies with Corey. We got asked to do a cover and we pulled out, like, Tight Bros from Way Back When and the Frumpies. And Corey and I both love the Frumpies, so the Frumpies won, but in new jack swing style. [Laughs.] That was Corey. He sent me the beat and I was like, “Oh my god, MC Skat Kat is here in the house.” 

And the new record is a double LP. I was like, surprise, it’s 19 songs! Which is maybe not the best surprise you can give your record label.

Your brand new record label! 

I spent a lot of time living in the forest during the pandemic, having all the feelings, and I wrote songs about it. But they are pop songs and pop-punk songs—Your Heart Breaks tends to lean to, like, if the Frumpies and Blink-182 had a baby. Then there are more classic melodic pop songs. 

I got together in the Unknown in Anacortes with Nick Wilbur producing, and got LAKE members Eli Moore and Ashley Eriksson to rejoin the band again—they’ve been in the band for almost every record. And we asked Katherine Paul, KP, from Black Belt Eagle Scout to play the drums. I wanted someone to play the drums who could play hard, play heavy, and she’s an amazing drummer.

Is that something you’re going to be able to pull off at the Tractor, then, with just Brewer and Goldston? 

The songs we’re playing at the Tractor are more in the drone sector, more in the heavier reverb genre. It’ll be two guitars and a cello, and I wanted to do something that would pair well with the Cave Singers.

Speaking of Friday, it’s going to be Bandcamp Friday, and you mentioned on Instagram that you had some very special limited-edition Your Heart Breaks merchandise going up.

I’m reissuing the first two records on a double LP, like 100 copies. It’ll be New Ocean Waves and Sailor System together for the first time. We recorded them together, they were originally a single record. Apparently, I like to record double LPs.

Do you have a release date for the Kill Rock Stars record? 

It’s penciled in for summer 2023, but it depends on the LP pressing schedule. The dream is to play a bunch of shows with Kimya [Dawson] this summer, outdoor shows. That’s the dream. We’ll see what comes, because who knows what the summer’s gonna bring. Murder hornets? Who knows?

Your Heart Breaks plays the Tractor with the Cave Singers tonight, December 2, at 9 pm.