After scattering to the winds for a series of sabbaticals, six-piece "Ballard-born" indie folk act The Head and the Heart reconvened last summer to record their third album, Signs of Light (marking their jump to the majors with a Warner Bros. release last November). As part of their extensive tour in support of the new record, the band returns to Coachella where, along with headliners Radiohead, Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, and dozens of other bands—including fellow Seattleites TacocaT and Car Seat Headrest—they’ll play for about 100,000 music fans gathered onto the sometimes dusty polo fields in Indio, California.
In advance of their Saturday afternoon mainstage performance, drummer Tyler Williams answered some of our silly questions about heading into two consecutive weekends at one of North America’s biggest festivals.
First things first: are your instruments and gear sufficiently heat and dust proofed? Just how much sunscreen are you bringing? As a survivor of the Seattle winter, are a few days in the desert welcome or terrifying?
We did have a piano shit out on us in front of 60,000 people at Lolla a few years ago. Not sure if it was due to heat or whatever but Kenny just jumped into the crowd and partied for the rest of our set. It was kind of magical. After the winter, we all could use some sunburns. We can't wait to be back in Indio.
What is it like to prepare for a set at a big festival vs. a club show? Are you more likely to lean into playing the hits vs. deep cuts or newer material? Do all festivals start to feel alike, or do you have different expectations for each one?
Each festival is definitely different. There's the Coachella style fests that are super young, fashion-concerned audiences, whereas something like Newport Folk Fest would be a more relaxed, family friendly hang. We do tend to cater each set to what the people expect and what the artists around us are doing. All hits all the time, though.
Coachella loves its special surprise guests—anything up your sleeves? Anyone else on the lineup that you’d love to have drop in on your set?
We were talking to a very legendary someone about joining us, I'm not sure where that conversation has ended up but it would be insane if it worked out. I personally would love to see Kendrick come out and just annihalate his verse on "Control" over "Lost In My Mind." Real quick, just up and out. Life made.
Are you planning to hang out at the festival all weekend? Are there any other bands, art installations, or festival foods that you’re excited to check out?
I always try to get to festival sites everyday we have the chance to. It's amazing to see so many incredibly talented and diverse artists crushing in front of such large crowds.
I’m dying to know—just how luxurious are the artist areas?
The artist areas are these ramshackle trailer camps and it can devolve into debauchery and mayhem by the time the sun goes down. Definitely saw Puffy and Busta Rhymes get into a serious altercation at the last Coachella backstage. They got up and just laughed it off too. Classic moments.
What effect does does the back-to-back "Clonechella" have on you or your tour or other logistics? Do you have enough time to play a show or two in between festival weekends, or do you get to spend the week chilling poolside, getting sound baths, and exploring the desert? Please feel free to bolster or shatter any ideas of rock star largesse and/or hype any tourist activities.
We used to always play shows in the week off in between but now we just take the time to relax, either at home or in the desert. A lot of us will be holed up in Joshua Tree, enjoying the time off. Our first year at Coachella, we had rented the first Native American Playboy's desert mansion and invited all of our friends to come and film a music video for our song "Rivers and Roads." The video turned out so terrible but we all thought it was going to be great in the moment. That might have been the psilocybin talking, though.
Coachella (and the fashion press that covers it) has a legacy of surfacing a certain festival fashion aesthetic into mainstream ubiquity—from offensive to innocuous. Most importantly—how much thought have you put into your outfits? I feel like Beach Goth was ascendant last year, but didn’t quite take off. Is this the year something finally unseats floral crowns as default festival signifier?
I don't really think too much about it. When you have H&M creating a Coachella influenced line of clothing, something has jumped the shark. I like to think a festival is a place where you can be exactly who you are because of how anonymous you feel in a large group. I want to see it get as weird as possible.
Coachella’s first weekend kicks off on Friday afternoon. I’ll be heading down to see and report on just how weird it gets (and to find out whether Kendrick accepts Tyler’s invitation). If you can’t make it out of the Seattle gloom to the festival’s welcome dry desert heat, you can still catch much of the action from the comfort of internet-enabled device across three live-streamed festival YouTube channels—and check out my coverage for the Stranger on Slog this weekend.