Written by: Jeremy Copp
James Lewis has a lot on his mind. And he’s not afraid to share it. In fact, he thinks it’s a musician’s obligation to do so. “As artists, we have a responsibility to report what we see to the world” he says, because he believes the media will only tell us what they want us to hear. And right now, James sees the world as a slightly dark and chaotic place. As the lead singer and songwriter of Hurt and the Heartbeat, he shares hurt, pain, suffering, happiness and joy. He is of the mindset that it all keeps us in balance, like some great cosmic yin and yang. That is really the essence of his band’s name. There is the yin, which is hurt, but there is also the yang, that heartbeat that keeps the blood moving and pushes the body and mind ever onward, towards healing. And that’s the thing. James Lewis is an eternal optimist, with an unshakeable faith in the power of positive thought. He believes that the only way to truly effect change is to spread positivity to each and every individual; and because we are all interconnected, it’ll spread like a contagion. And if he has his way, his band will be the next big epidemic.
Hurt and the Heartbeat originated ten years ago, when James met bassist Raundi Moore Kondo in the park while strumming the guitar in what James refers to as an “organic happening.” But then they drifted apart. Fast forward to two years ago, when James moved into an apartment with rhythm guitarist Richard Cadman, and the two of them focused on working up as much material as possible. James reconnected with Raundi, and they booked their first shows. However, they still needed a drummer. With fortune smiling upon him, James basically ran into drummer Timo Prietto on the street. As James tells it, “Timo just had that energetic look of a musician.” And just like that, the core lineup of Hurt and the Heartbeat fell into place.
James is adamant about not having Hurt and the Heartbeat pigeonholed into any particular style of music. “The most boring question is ‘what genre are you?’” he states bluntly. He prefers to walk out on stage and perform to a crowd that has an unadulterated point of view. Hurt and the Heartbeat has purposefully kept their website and Facebook page devoid of any description of their sound. Therefore, there will be no such spoilers here. Instead, here are some examples of what Hurt and the Heartbeat DON’T sound like: Tool, Outkast, and Rammstein. Hurt and the Heartbeat’s music will make you want to drive through the California desert with nothing on the horizon but endless highway and the late afternoon sun, brilliant and glowing in the sky.
Hurt and the Heartbeat truly want people to react to what they are hearing in the moment. And if James has his way, what people will be reacting to is raw emotion. For him, the emotion of the song is much more important than the sound quality. As James describes it, he has had a rather turbulent relationship with music, even going so far as to give up playing guitar or writing songs for ten years. And then he realized that he was much better off emoting his problems through music. “I’m just like everyone else,” James claims, “F*cked up and trying to deal with my pain on stage instead of with alcohol and drugs.” His openness is refreshing, and he tries to bring that to stage every time Hurt and the Heartbeat performs.
At the time being, Hurt and the Heartbeat are trying to slow down their performance schedule to focus on recording. James says that they are writing their second album, and he already has the songs for a third album in the works. So see them live soon, while they’re still gigging incessantly. Chances are you will find their passion, honesty and energy highly infectious.
See Hurt and the Heartbeat at Groove International’s Sunday Funday Bash on July 12 (House of Blues-Main Stage, Anaheim, CA).