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Thursday, March 13 • 9:00pm - 9:30pm
The Heavenly States

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It’s not often a person finds a bandmate, brother-in-law and friend on Craig’s List, much less someone who is willing to cover the tab for Chinese takeout. But for THE HEAVENLY STATES’ Ted Nesseth (guitar, vocals) and Jeremy Gagon (drums), that fateful posting was the beginning of an adventure that would take them from playing basement shows in their home town of Oakland, CA, to the British Consulate’s basement in Libya and beyond. Ted’s Oakland apartment had become a halfway house for fellow Minnesota refugees, but the nest was empty and he was looking for a roommate on Craig’s List. When Jeremy showed up to see the place, Ted and a friend had ordered Chinese food for delivery that they couldn’t pay for, so Jeremy picked up the tab. The rest was history. It was not the likeliest of pairings, as Ted and Jeremy came from completely different worlds. Ted plays his guitar upside down and backwards because he taught himself to play on his right-handed friends' guitars. Music was an anchor for Ted, who had been drifting and living by his wits and huge personality on the edge of the law and sobriety. Though he didn’t know much about Jeremy when he moved in, Ted was inspired by Jeremy’s drive and musicianship. Jeremy is a multi-instrumentalist who grew up in grew up in an offbeat, highly edited version of the "military family" in Virginia and Georgia with his sister and bandmate, Genevieve Gagon. After a renaming and some line-up changes, THE HEAVENLY STATES’ core formula was finally solidified, with Genevieve sharing lyrical duties with Ted and lending her violin and keyboard skills to the cause. Ted asked Gen to join the band when she had a broken leg. “It was like running down a faun,” he explains. A month into the relationship, they wrote three solid songs together and the music kept coming. Three months in, Ted was cleaned up and the band felt they had a future. Ted and Gen’s musical relationship eventually became a personal relationship and the two were married in December 2006. With a rotating cast of bassists, THE HEAVENLY STATES released a self-titled full length, followed by another LP entitled “Black Comet” along with a CD single to benefit Moveon.org and a 3-way split 7” with Coldplay and Postal Service. In between full lengths, THE HEAVENLY STATES, with the help of an iPod for a bassist and a guide named Abdul, became the first rock band to play Libya after Muammar Khadafi and the United States lifted a 30-year travel ban to the country. Still, western music and the band’s proposed tour remained controversial. Local security authorities in Libya tried to intimidate the band out of performing, and they were threatened with deportation. Libyan bureaucrats wanted the band to forego their smaller, public, underground shows for a big UN sponsored show to take place “at another time” courtesy of the Khadafi family but the band didn’t want to participate in a state sponsored censorable event. They were finally able to perform a tsunami relief benefit in the basement of a British diplomat’s home with the necessary cover of the Clash’s “Rock The Casbah.” Word of the tour spread like wildfire and was documented by the likes of Newsweek, NPR, San Francisco Chronicle and many more. The world might soon hear more about this trip, as Libyan-American producer, Jawal Nga, asked the band if he could base a film on the band’s story. “Bruce Willis, Khadafi, 100,000 tons of TNT, a helicopter and an American flag. Can anyone say box office gold?” jokes the iPod bassist’s replacement, Masanori Mark Christianson. Masanori, a Japanese-Korean immigrant who dabbles in cooking and the visual arts, was raised in the same southeastern Minnesota town as Ted, his Mexican-American bandmate, and often wonders how they all ended up together, contributing to a project that was once unimaginable. Now with the Libyan stint as well as countless US tours and trips to Egypt and Europe under their belt, the four musicians who make up THE HEAVENLY STATES have entered the studio and have emerged with a new LP entitled, Delayer. For this album, THE HEAVENLY STATES have decided to use their collective studio experience to produce the record themselves, unlike their earlier albums, which were produced by such big names as Jeff Saltzman (The Killers, Two Gallants), Paul Oldham (Will Oldham’s brother and main producer), and John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr, The Hold Steady). Delayer is thick with sonic layers and, as Rolling Stone says of their prior album, “delivers equal parts patchouli-soaked violin and Superchunk-worthy melodies.” Perhaps the band’s hook-laden wall of sound - an approach that shatters the typical indie rock formula - stems from the chemistry sparked by four individuals from completely different backgrounds who have traveled the world and made music together. “This ain’t no pick up band with a leader and hired guns,” says Genevieve, “None of us ever wanted to be a part of something we weren’t really a part of.” With the release of Delayer, THE HEAVENLY STATES will be doing more of what they know best – hitting the road. “Touring is a great challenge for your body,” proclaims Genevieve, “We’ve done it enough now so that the romance of separation from everyday life has grown up into a permanent veil or some stinky dream that doesn’t wash off. We’ve used our music to get to people and places we wouldn’t have reached otherwise.” Only time will tell what adventures are in store for this “roommate wanted” ad turned energetic rock group.
http://2008.sxsw.com/music/showcases/band/64624.html

Thursday March 13, 2008 9:00pm - 9:30pm
The Ale House 310 E 6th St (Alley Entrance)

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