The capricious nature of fate means one can never tell what the future may hold;
as the old saying goes ‘When burning bridges be sure you you’re not standing on
And through the tumultuous trials of forming, finding their feet, and seeking their
future Hearts Fail have gone from being a handful of musicians with a dream to a
rock solid entity as real as the empowering songs the group have made their
Comprising of Edward Wagner on vocals and guitar, Clint Kingsbery on keys,
Michael Lampe behind the bass, Ruben Verdin doing duty on drums, and
Roberto Medina giving voice to the guitar the original incarnation of the
band hit the road hard; stages were summarily seized and signed Hearts
Fail in big riffs, memorable hooks, and descriptive lyrics that bought
favourable comparison to the mighty Smashing Pumpkins, Silversun Pickups,
and the enigmatic Placebo, hints of Joy Division adding a soupcon of the
stunning to the bands already acclaimed aural awesome.
Demand for their attentions kept the group on the road and under the
spotlight, and when 2004 turned up Hearts Fail acquiesced to audiences
avarice for their sound with the release of their debut album, The Empty Promise.
With a munificence of music to choose from the single Wishing Well was
chosen to be picked up and singled out for inclusion within Strobelight
Records compilation album, Dark Age Vol.3, interest in the band growing
exponentially and bringing them to a worldwide stage and showing there
was clear industry attention.
Having piqued the industry’s interest Hearts Fail capitalised on this and
roared into 2005, the year bringing with it Gothic Magazine’s Best Unsigned
Band award and helping stoke the flames of a band seemingly unstoppable in
its rise to the top.
Tempering demand with a further release Medallion became Hearts Fail’s
second release, the four track EP which bringing not just keyboardist Clint
into the group on production duties but also reveal a far more developed
and tighter sound, an even richer and – some would say -superior band than
had previously been heard.
Ever ready to fulfil the swelling demand the group made plans for a third
release, entitled The Dying Season. But with such talented individuals
behind the helm and attention in the group growing, inter-band tensions
and disagreements resulted in the departure of Clint and forcing the band
into re-examining their future and planned release.
Thankfully it proved to be a blessing of sorrow rather than an aural au
revoir, the members re-lighting the fires that had set the live scene ablaze
when first formed, The Dying Season released in 2009 as a statement of
superiority amongst the bands contemporaries. Fitter, leaner, and
with a re-affirmed sense of self TDS fulfilled on all fronts and was an
artistic masterpiece, the band revealing it to be a concept album
based on loss of love and receiving rightful acclaim for their work.
But when 2010 saw guitarist Roberto Medina and drummer Ruben Verdin
leaving the group it behooved Edward to take up the mantle as helmsman
of the group, sourcing the musicians capable of preserving the bands
legacy whilst expanding upon the visions of sound and scope Hearts Fail
had made its name with.
With the single Promises (Unresolved)in 2010, followed up by the
EP . . . Other Blessings in 2011 Wagner drove the momentum of the
group, a heavy gigging schedule taking up the majority of two years and
Wagners efforts in a re-grouped version of Hearts Fail.
Employing the skills of bassists Michael Lampe, Joel Gonzalez, and Suessie
Asmodeus, drummers Gabriel Tepes and Andrew Meadie, and keyboardist Jonathan
Pfortmiller helping ensure Hearts Fail never lost momentum during this period of unrest,
audiences and iPods won over by the sounds of an entity bigger
than any one member.
Finding time to even think during such tumultuous times would be
enough for any man, but when October 2013 saw the release of The
Tower, a self-penned solo album entirely Edwards own, it yet again
showed the level of ability and craftsmanship within Wagners grasp.
Now standing tall with a fresh new line up of bassist Phil Cox, Vince Davila
on guitars, Gabriel Wilcoxen on drums, Hearts Fail are stronger than ever;
and with the return of original founding member and keyboardist Clint
Kingsbery to the fold we thought it time to turn up the heat and hold their
feet to the flames and ask Hearts Fail how the future looks from here; how
the change in line-up has affected the group and what direction they’re
looking to venture into next, and if it isn’t what you do what is it..?
#1. LADIM: Welcome to LADIM’s Lucky 7; please, tell us who you are..?
Answer: This is Edward Wagner – songwriter, vocalist, and musician for
#2. LADIM: From almost the word go it seems Hearts Fail have been the
shot in the arm the music industry has been crying out for…
Answer: The music stands out for a few different reasons. The emotional
content in Hearts Fail hits a lot closer to home than a lot of current indie
bands – right now, irony and emotional detachment is very trendy, but we
have no interest in that. I’ve always been a “heart on the sleeve” type of writer;
I’ve never equated rock music with the word “cool” so much as with the word
“cathartic.” Also, our sound is different because we make a conscious effort to
try and not sound just like the bands that have inspired us. We certainly take
different elements from those bands and pay a little bit of homage through our
sound, but we pay close attention to drawing the line between homage and
mimicry. We also mix the influences together in a unique way. I am a
tremendous fan of 80’s post-punk such as The Sound, The Chameleons UK, and
The Comsat Angels, but I am an equally avid fan of 90’s alternative guitar rock
like Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo, and Catherine Wheel. The blending of those two
ideals will ensure that we never sound like ANY of those bands. I love textured,
layered, thoughtful music. My voice is also pretty distinct – I could always pull
off a good Ian Curtis (Joy Division) imitation when I wanted to (in our early days,
people loved that about us), but since then, I have learned the value of singing in
my own voice, and have grown tremendously as a vocalist with each passing album.
I accept my vocals as a unique element that distinguishes us from other groups.
#3. LADIM: After the release of the bands first album and acclaim both critical and
public coming thick and fast – and the undoubted pressures such interest must
bring -it was shocking to see the original line-up disband…?
Answer: We were a lot more successful in our first year of existence than we ever
could have imagined – I think, in a way, that the initial success made the years
following our breakthrough feel like a letdown, even though we were still creating
great music and enjoying playing live. I was only somewhat shocked when the
original lineup disbanded – our album “The Dying Season” cost us our keyboardist
Clint Kingsbery during the recording process, and our lead guitarist Roberto
Medina and drummer Ruben Verdin not long after completion. The album was a
great struggle for us, and despite the sheer amount of heart and soul put into the
music, it didn’t have the same impact as our debut “The Empty Promise.” In my
heart, I believe that if our initial success had lasted a little longer, or carried into
“The Dying Season,” the lineup might have lasted a little longer.
Luckily, our bassist Mike Lampe and I were probably a little more interested
in making great music than achieving “success” (whatever that means in
today’s industry), so we continued on and recorded our single
“Promises” with drummer Gabriel Tepes, before creating a fairly solid lineup with
new drummer Andrew Meadie and keyboardist Jonathan Pfortmiller. This lineup
recorded our EP entitled “ . . . Other Blessings” and the single “Victims.” This particular
group also disbanded, though, mainly due to personal conflict and because I was
going through a time in my life where I couldn’t dedicate as much time and effort to
the business part of music as necessary (day to day promotion, flyers, artwork, etc.);
my bandmates thought I was slacking, and they were probably right. At the same
time, though, I was also entering a very creative period for me, musically, and the
initial seeds for what became “The Tower” were sown during those difficult months.
After writing and recording “The Tower” on my own, I found a great lineup that can
definitely continue the direction Hearts Fail has been going all along – creating great
original music. All of our previous albums can be purchased from
www.cdbaby.com/artist/heartsfail, in both physical and digital formats, except for our
“greatest hits” album “Fires in the Night,” which is available from Strobelight Records
(http://www.strobelight-records.com). We are also on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and
most other digital retailers.
#4. LADIM: With Edward building the band anew from the ground up and responsible
for all that entails, you also found time to write, record and release your own solo
Answer: At heart, I am a songwriter and arranger first, and a performer/musician
second. Songwriting has always been my love. At the time the “ . . . Other Blessings”
lineup disbanded, I was growing a little dissatisfied because I had about 30 songs or so
written that I knew the band would never have time to arrange and record. The
timing with the band disintegrating and me getting to record “The Tower” on my
own was perfect. I was able to take several of the older songs that the band had
never quite grasped live (Always, In My Head, The Cold, Angels) and
perform/record them exactly as I thought they
I also got to start many songs from scratch and find a way to pull them all
together into one cohesive album. I recorded about 20 or so demos and carried about
fifteen through full mix-downs, and from there twelve songs made the final cut. I made
the decision to release the album under the name Hearts Fail as opposed to “Edward
Wagner” because I think that even though I recorded the album on my own, it still
sounds very much like the ideal I want Hearts Fail to represent. I will admit that it
did take a lot of time, and I didn’t get to spend as much time with my family as I
would have liked during the creation of the album, but I was able to do a lot of
keyboards and mixing late at night (with guitars and vocals during the day) and
still have a pretty balanced life during the process – I did miss out on a lot of sleep,
Recording the album in my home also saved a lot of travel time and made
everything more convenient, too.
Putting the new lineup together was also quite a painstaking ordeal. Luckily,
the ends justified the means, and I’m really excited by the group of guys I’m
working with. I could tell you so many stories about botched tryouts and
auditions that it would make your head spin. I’ve never considered myself
a great musician by any stretch of the imagination, but I knew that I had to
uphold a certain level of quality in the musicianship of potential band members,
and finding guys who could live up to that standard was pretty difficult. On
and off, it took about a year to find the new lineup. It’s still hard to gauge the
reaction to the new lineup, since we’ve only played a few live gigs so far, but
we’re definitely getting a positive vibe from the people at the shows. The
hardest challenge, I believe, will be getting people to take the new album and
lineup seriously, since people tend to associate Hearts Fail with a specific previous
album or lineup. I know we can overcome this challenge, though, since the new
lineup playing new material is already sounding so great. We just need to
get the music into people’s ears.
#5. LADIM: From a rocky but firm beginning to the present stability of the
group, what can we look forward to hearing from this invigorated incarnation
of the group.?
Answer: I’ve always believed that a band’s lineup isn’t solid until they’ve gone
through the processes of live performance and recording together, a trial by fire
kind of thing. To that end, we will be writing and recording a new EP early this
summer, and doing some brief regional tours to support the album shortly
afterwards. I think the new lineup (bassist Phil Cox, lead guitarist
Vince Davila, drummer Gabriel Wilcoxen, and returning original keyboardist
Clint Kingsbery) is our best yet, and I’m really looking forward to their
contributions to the songwriting process.
We’re also about to record a video for the song “Stormcloud,” which will
be a good experience for us, plus we’re about to get a new batch of merchandise.
Finally, I was able to record a cover of The Sound’s song “Monument” for an
upcoming tribute to Adrian Borland from label The Beautiful Music
(www.thebeautifulmusic.com). The tribute will also be a crowd-funding
incentive reward for an upcoming documentary about Adrian Borland called
“Walking in the Opposite Direction.” I am honoured to be part of the project,
and will be unveiling the cover quite soon. Everything I’ve just mentioned will
be centrally located at our website, www.heartsfail.com – including a link to our
Mailing List, which I encourage everyone to join, because those fans tend to get
lots of exclusive news and music before anyone else.
#6. LADIM: Penultimate question time! Finish this sentence;
‘It ain’t what you do, it’s-?‘
Answer: It ain’t what you do, it’s HOW you do it, to make the world a better place.
#7. LADIM: Shameless self promotion time! What links, info, details and
would you like our audience to be made aware of?
Our album The Tower is available now, and our social links are;
Thank you so much for the opportunity.