By Nikki Hedrick
Touring life isn’t as glamorous as most assume, but every successful tour is a cause to celebrate. Beachcomberland’s own reggae influenced rockers Heritage has spent a substantial portion of the summer touring the West Coast and have new music on the horizon.
Current members are Tony Verrecchia (vocals), Hunter Dawson (guitar), Matt Moore (bass), and Billy Kernen (drums). Both Verrecchia and Dawson were on the interview call, which created exchanges like this:
“I never got my orangutan,” says Verrecchia without much inflection.
“That’s been on Tony’s rider,” explains Dawson. “And he bitches about it all the time.”
“An orangutan that rolls spicy tuna rolls (sushi) is all I wanted,” Verrecchia continues. “We’re just trying to be rock stars, man. And you can tell by Hunter’s laugh that was a bullshit comment.”
Now that we all know what is not so secretly on Verrecchia’s Christmas list, let’s celebrate how Heritage began recording in 2008 and playing shows in 2009. Ten years as a band is far from something to sneeze at, but Verrecchia is quick to downplay it. “The more you travel on the road, and the more you find out how long bands have been doing it…I don’t think the 10-year mark is celebrated with a lot of bands. We’re like, Let’s not talk about it and focus on the work.”
“We were on the road 10 weeks total,” Verrecchia says of the band’s recent tour. “We drove back and forth from Oregon twice and now, coming back, we have some time to re-group. We want to get some more tracks out there, some more music. Songs that we’ve been playing for quite a while that we have yet to record.”
“The thing about the songs,” says Dawson. “For a while, we wanted to do a full-length album and figure it all out. We started to think instead of endeavoring on a $20,000 investment and the way that everyone is doing stuff now—everyone is just downloading single songs anyways. So I think what we’re trying to do is a very feasible task, to get two or three of the newer songs produced and mixed. We want people to hear them.
“I’m totally pumped because we have four months before the end of the year, so we have plenty of time to get the songs out. We are ready to roll into 2018 showing where we’re headed.”
Between tales of gross gas station bathrooms and the joy of returning home to a bedroom with a door, there were gems of people excited to see live music.
“Rolling into some little town and everyone is ear-to-ear grinning and saying that they’ve been looking forward to this show for two months…” says Dawson. “And the whole bar is packed out with people requesting songs, and it’s a place we have never been to before. It felt like an accomplishment.”
Heritage are hardly strangers to touring, having played in over 20 states, but Verrecchia explains the difference between a self-organized tour and being a part of a behemoth like the Vans Warped Tour—“the weight is on your shoulders.”
He adds: “There is always something good to be taken from it. This was one of those tours, where it’s about how you handle it. We learned to let the reigns go a little bit and roll with the punches. There’s always a lot to be learned whether you are playing to a thousand people or are playing for five people.”
Moving forward, Dawson says the band is focused on “making decisions based on what we want to do, which is travel and spread our music.”
Those decisions have led Heritage from south Florida to Austin’s South by Southwest Festival, and all the way to California to work with a producer on some all-new music that could obtain national distribution.
“It’s all a work in progress,” says Verrecchia. “We can’t play any of the music we wrote with him until some things get signed, so we’ve just been sleeping on this new music. All that is kind of coming to a spearhead at the end of the year, and we are going to see where our cards lie on the business end of all that stuff.”
Whatever the outcome, one thing is for certain. Heritage is keeping a busy dance card. Upcoming shows include the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation’s Concerts in the Village this month, as well as the Destin Seafood Festival in October and Panama City Beach’s Oktoberfest. More dates can be found in this issue’s live music listings.
Keep up with this year’s Beachcomber Music Award winners for Best Band at HeritageBand.com.