Three of Hearts

fluke voicemail leads to formation of indie rock trio

Lindsey Quinnies, photos by Andrea Paulseth

GIVE IT UP FOR JONNY AND THE VENTRICLES! Eau Claire indie rock band Heart of the Heart is, from left, Jonathan Seeley, Adam Thoms, and Alyssa Thoms.
Heart of the Heart is, from left, Jonathan Seeley, Adam Thoms, and Alyssa Thoms.

Heart of the Heart, or HOT H, is a true reaction of the eclectic, ongoing, and mutually integrated music scene that has come to be tradition in Eau Claire. Bandmates Adam Thoms (MoreAmore, Two Rivers, The Blue Room), Alyssa Thoms (Feathe, Meridene), and Jonathan Seeley (Silvering, Only The Sea, Holy Rifles) have all been playing music for a long time. Their freshly shaped trio forms a trifecta of revitalization for them which began on a fluke voicemail during a European adventure.

Adam and Alyssa took a trip to Europe (during which Adam charmingly proposed – and Alyssa agreed) and realized how fun it would be to have Seeley on tour with them; they decided to leave him a voicemail of themselves covering one of Jon’s original songs.  He called them back, they get to talking, and Heart of the Heart was born.

“We met as friends and have almost always played shows together as separate solo projects,” Alyssa said. “Since we were all singer/songwriters and had an unquestionable dedication to pursuing music, Jon asked if Adam and I would be interested in filling out his songs with more instruments. Heart of the Heart was formed.” They began practicing with their small trio in a friend’s basement, since none of them had a place to practice comfortably at the time. They released their first single, “Seven Of Hearts” in February and are now releasing their six-track EP Separate From the Animal on June 20 with a performance in the Volume One Gallery.

“This album is us collaborating, teaming up; sticking to a theme and branching out as ambassadors for Eau Claire, together.” – Adam Thoms on Heart Of The Heart’s new EP Separate From The Animal

The group plays slow indie rock drawing influences from acts such as Elvis Costello, Counting Crows, and Damien Rice, with Alyssa also recognizing Norah Jones as her personal influence. Adam says its a little more rockin’ and it may even take on some characteristics of country. When listening to Separate, you can feel the sentiment and passion coming through the both the lyrics themselves and the tone and inflection of the vocalization.  The soothing melodies alongside instrumentals featuring guitar and saxophone are nearly intoxicating. It’s an unhurried, folky, beautiful album that’s easy to get lost in.

As for his favorite track of the six on the album, Adam said “it depends on the mood ... ‘Minneapolis/Minnesnowta’ is a fun indie/rock anthem, while ‘Heart Liver & Skin’ chokes me up every time; ‘Chopping Block’ has a fun guitar solo (as the lead guitarist I’m biased).”

Although they’ve all dabbled in various musical crowds, they agree that HOT H is different for them because they all have the same expectations and passion for the project and individual roles both on and off the stage. Adam also says, “This album is us collaborating, teaming up; sticking to a theme and branching out as ambassadors for Eau Claire, together.”  All three take on various responsibilities for the band. Jon Seeley performs main vocals, plays acoustic guitar, and also wrote most of the chords and melodies for the songs on this EP; Adam Thoms plays electric guitar, performs vocals, and also does the booking/managing; Alyssa Thoms plays bass, performs vocals, and takes on some of the art and graphic design as well as helps with the booking.

This new release furthers their history and integration into Eau Claire’s music culture. Separate From the Animal features various other local artists including William Cooney (FM Down) on drums, Steve Bateman (local artist and musician) on harmonica, Addie Strei (Adelyn Rose, Softly Dear) on saxophone, Evan Middlesworth (Dames) on lap steel, and Ben Hinz (Ronald Raygun) on synth/keys; the record was engineered by Jaime Hansen at April Base.

The title of the trio, Heart of the Heart, was mostly the “brainchild” of Seeley. He felt that it portrayed a particular meaning about the music. “It is raw, honest, and the deepest and truest part of the song matter,” Adam said. “When the songs were written he didn’t hold back and said things the way they were.”

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