Artist of the Week: Harts Of Oak

Each Wednesday (almost), Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to sheaserrano@gmail.com.

The gorgeous Houston Press Music Awards are stomping towards us, so from here until eternity (or until our editor tells us to stop), only musicians who have received nominations will be eligible for the Artist of the Week column. Exclusivity is so in, bro.

First up is Harts of Oak, nominated for Best Folk and brains behind The Old States, one of the summer's best soundtracks. Lots in the interview, including stag talk, digs at Arcade Fire and the potentially awesome thing they will say during their acceptance speech if they win.

Rocks Off: Tell everyone everything they need to know about Harts of Oak in exactly six words.

Harts of Oak: Atticus Finch and Boo Radley forever.

RO: Why not Hearts of Oak?

HOO: Hearts of Oak is a Ted Leo album. Copyright issues. No one wants to deal with that.

A hart is actually another term for a stag, or a male deer. It has become our adopted logo. We also became very interested in the work of a friend of ours, Ren Sauer (check out her art, its awesome), which explored the connection between humans and their connection with wild animals and nature.

She has done a lot of artwork for us portraying the stag in different forms and we feel that the hart is a nice representation of our combined personalities as a group. And in any case, who doesn't love Bambi and puns?

Harts of Oak, "Satellite Heart"

RO: How long after you received your HPMA nomination was it before you started sending out emails and texts to the people who didn't make it, saying things like, "You guys totally got jobbed," but laughing behind the scenes?

HOO: Well, we called Arcade Fire immediately and told them about our nomination. They were jealous, to say the least. They can keep their Grammy. We have an HPMA nom. In all seriousness, we were honestly surprised and grateful for the nomination.

With so much incredible local music in Houston, we feel privileged to have been recognized by Houston Press and have so much support from our fans. We are still a fairly new band and are happy to see that our work is appreciated and that people are able to find something they can connect to in our music. Always support local music!

RO: Is it incorrect to assume that you wrote "Tuesday Morning" specifically for the purpose of me playing it for the wife as a way to get her to forgive me for saying something inconsiderate?

HOO: Absolutely. We are actually working on the next EP, Apology Songs for [Rocks Off]. There's gonna be some good ones in there. They will get you out of absolutely anything.

RO: Let's assume that you, Harts of Oak, have been touched by the hand of God and are victorious in your HPMA category. Will you have a speech prepared? And if so, can we possibly convince you to use the phrase, "Pimps up, hoes down" in it?

HOO: If we win, I will guarantee you right now that we will say "Pimps up, hoes down" and create the most awkward silence anyone has ever experienced. No need for a speech with that. If we do win, I'm really not sure how we would react.

Obviously, it'd feel great. We have worked very hard, as any band should, to write music that makes us feel good and that may provide some sort of outlet for our listeners. We have some extremely loyal fans and we thank them for all that they have done for us thus far and hope that they will continue to support us in the years to come.

And if we don't win, there's always next year. We'll still find a way to work in "pimps up, hoes down" into conversation that night. That can't go to waste.

Harts of Oak, "The Old States"

RO: Is there anything you want to make sure gets mentioned?

HOO: If you love something you find in our music, tell us and let us play for you. There is nothing more rewarding than hearing that people appreciate what we do and want us to continue. Also, go visit Atticus, our drummer. He is the only one of the three of us that currently resides in Houston and he's a pretty interesting guy.

Crash at his house, drink his beer. He doesn't mind. He is like a walking encyclopedia of 90's indie-rock too. It's awesome. *Give us a vote in the HPMA if you like our music!

See Harts of Oak online at www.hartsofoak.com and follow them on Twitter at @HartsOfOak. Download The Old States free on the group's Bandcamp page.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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