"A definite highlight was heading to the States with Marty Stuart to play some iconic, historic venues – the Ryman, the Grand Ole Opry and Graceland" We chat with Chess and Tara from The Wandering Hearts

You could say 2018 was a reasonably successful year for The Wandering Hearts. They toured the hell out of themselves, they went to Nashville, they released an extended version of their debut album, and basically won 2018. We spoke to the band early in 2018 so wanted to check in with the ladies of the group, Chess and Tara, for an update on their amazing year.

Hey Chess & Tara! First, I should check I’m actually OK to call you Chess?

Of course, everyone calls me Chess!

What have you been up to today? Anything fun?

We’ve just played a really fun in store at Beyond Vinyl in Newcastle on our Indie record store tour, and tonight we have our last gig on tour with Ward Thomas. We’ve had an amazing time on the road and are so happy to be finishing up at the Sage Gateshead!

What can you tell us about the deluxe edition of your debut album?

Since Wild Silence came out, we’ve had some incredible experiences. A definite highlight was heading to the States with Marty Stuart to play some iconic, historic venues – we were so lucky to play the Ryman, the Grand Ole Opry and Graceland on our first trip. The Graceland show was recorded and we knew we had to do something with the live tracks and from that, the Deluxe was born! We wanted to include some new songs and some reimagined album tracks, and we’re really pleased with how it all fits together – it really feels like the end of the first chapter now!

You guys must be over it by now, but how surprised have you been to the reaction to the band over the last twelve months or so?

We’re not sure we’ll ever be over the wonderful response we’ve had from everyone. We’re honestly still pinching ourselves. It’s incredible! It’s been such a whirlwind, we’re just trying to take everything one day at a time.

What’s the one song on Wild Silence that summarises you as a band?

The title track, 'Wild Silence', is the song that really sums us up as a band. When we met, we really didn’t know each other. Some mutual friends had put us in touch and we decided to meet up with a gin or two and see what happened. And a really amazing thing happened. From the moment we started singing together, it felt as though we had been doing it for years, like we had somehow found this shared headspace and were tuned into one another on a level that made no sense. We instantly clicked. When we wrote 'Wild Silence', it was about that unspoken connection between people – something that you can’t ignore or explain, just like when we first met.

You’ve been to Nashville a few times now, what’s the best thing about Music City?

Can we just say everything?!!! It’s such a fantastic place. The music, the people, the vibe, the food!!!

And where should I go to hear good music?

Literally, everywhere in Nashville! The Bluebird is amazing for hearing the stories behind the songs in an intimate setting so that’s always a good one. On the opposite end of the scale, after our first Opry performance, we
headed over the road to the Nashville Palace. They have amazing live music and it’s a really good night! Plus, there’s loads of dancing too!

You guys are touring your butts off, seemingly all the time, how much of it is hard work and how much is just good fun?

It really is good fun. We rehearse a lot before we get on the road, so when the actual tour comes along, we’re raring to go and we can concentrate on having a good time and meeting everyone.

What’s coming up in the rest of 2019?

Right now, it’s all about getting our next album done. We’re heading out to the States to do some recording before coming back for Black Deer Festival and our summer shows with Jack Savoretti. Then back over to finish
recording and hopefully, play some shows! It’s shaping up to be a pretty cool year ahead.

Obviously, there’s a lot of talk about equality in general at the moment, what’s your experience of being treated differently as a woman in your industry?

Gender inequality in music definitely exists and we do see it. When you look at the proportion of female writers and producers, the numbers speak for themselves, as do many of the line-ups at festivals. As a band though, we’re lucky to have a really incredible team around us. We’re signed to Decca which is headed up by the wonderful Becky Allen, and our team there is mostly women. We have great women heading up our management and publishers too. We’ve also been very fortunate to play C2C festival for the past three years which was created and booked by women, and the line-up is always full of brilliant female performers. We work closely with the AMA-UK which was initiated and run by the incredible Stevie Freeman. There, we see women having the same opportunities and support as their male counterparts. There are also some awesome new festivals like Black Deer which is the brainchild of Gill and Debs who, with Bev, have created an award-winning festival with a great, gender diverse line-up. We’ll keep calling people out on gender equality when we see it, and keep talking about it instead of pretending it’s something that doesn’t exist, and hopefully, we can start to see even more of a shift as the years go on.

Have you found yourself being treated differently from AJ in the past?

Not often, but yes, it does happen. Mostly, when someone is asking about songwriting, their questions are directed to AJ. When it’s a question about clothes, it’s more often directed to us, which is quite funny as AJ has the most incredible sense of style and would very happily talk at length about clothes! Equally, we love to talk about the stories behind our songs. We’re lucky to have AJ in the band with us – he is one of the biggest feminists we know so we’re quite a powerful trio to try and get anything past.

If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?

We’ve been listening to The Staves ‘Pine Hollow’ live on the road. Their harmonies are sublime.

What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?

Cat person or dog person? And we’d say we love cats, but dogs all the way. This tour, we’ve been lucky enough to get to stay with our friends and family along the way and at almost every house there’s been a dog. We’ll be
missing our four-legged friends when tour’s over!!!

Finally, how do you take your coffee?

Black or an oat milk flat white please.

To find out more about the band visit their website. You should also check out their socials.

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