LISTEN: The Heart Pills

‘tin can band’ taking EC music scene by storm

Thom Fountain

The Heart Pills (Shown here caught in a freight elevator after robbing a music store). Matt Haapala, Silas Thompson, Josh Ingersoll, and Sarah Bodeau.

Josh Ingersoll sits at the front of the stage, a guitar balanced on his right knee. His shins are covered by an upturned filing cabinet and his face just barely peeks through his dirty blond hair. The keyboardist, Sarah Bodeau, stands behind a monstrosity of speakers and plywood. Bassist Silas Thompson and drummer Matt Haapala round out the four-piece rock troupe.

This is The Heart Pills. They are about to blow you away.

This rag-tag band exploded onto the scene this spring, quickly sharing the stage (and sometimes living room) with some of the best-respected Eau Claire acts, including Laarks, The Gentle Guest, and Farms. The Heart Pills’ music lingers somewhere between Tom Waits, Black Crowes, and Slayer, which leaves a lot up to imagination. The group seamlessly weaves their way between country ballads and raucous rock riffs.

The Heart Pills’ genre-bending ways came naturally, Ingersoll said, adding that no one in the band is hyper-critical when it comes to practice or writing, which has allowed their sound to slowly evolve.

A contributing factor to the group’s eclectic mix would be the variety of backgrounds and influences each member draws from. Thompson and Ingersoll met over the internet in an “online lonely hearts club for musicians,” as Thompson describes it. Thompson brought with him the experience of playing in harder rock bands and cites Primus, Interpol, and Joy Division amongst his influences. When Bodeau joined the group on keys, she provided her classical background and Haapala’s experience was a bit of everything, Ingersoll said. 

    And while The Heart Pills may not be the first band to bridge the gap between such a wide variety of influences, they may be the first to do so with the help of metal-laden office supplies. Arguably The Heart Pills’ most recognizable feature, the rhythmic file cabinet helps add to the tin-canny campfire allure, especially at the band’s live shows.

“I like a really tin-canny sound, I guess,” Ingersoll said. “If you’re looking for something raw, a filing cabinet would do it.”

To throw yet another juxtaposition into the mix, the band matches their abrasive rockabilly with strong onstage personality and a generally light atmosphere at shows. This can include everything from 80s rock covers to poetic readings from the Missed Connections section of Craigslist. In an e-mail, bassist Silas Thompson stressed the fact that The Heart Pills’ main goal is to continue to play how they have been, without being pressured to change by outside forces.

“Ninety percent of the time we have more fun than the audience does,” he added. And given my experience as an audience member, that means they must be having a hell of a lot of fun.

    The Heart Pills + Duncan Ninja + More Amore • Thursday, Aug. 26 • Phoenix Park, downtown EC • 6pm • FREE • all ages • www.theheartpills.bandcamp.com