“There’s no holding back,” proclaims Alex Lyman of Hearts & Hands. “We write and record how we feel and what we hear. In every song, you’ll find something different. There are no walls, no boundaries, and definitely no rules.”
That boundlessness makes the Salt Lake City, UT group’s self-titled debut EP for The Artery Recordings/Razor & Tie so intriguing and irrefutable. Siphoning hardcore, metal, electronic, pop punk, and even a little classical into five dangerously dynamic songs, the group—Lyman, Garrett Garfield, and Chelsea Grin singer Alex Koehler—surprises at each turn. As a result, falling into their collective grip is as blissful as it is brutal.
In 2010 while working as a guitar tech for Chelsea Grin, Lyman began toying with what would become the very first Hearts & Hands song. On the trek home from the All Stars tour, he penned “We’re Not Alone” in his head. Casually sharing the idea with Garfield and Koehler, both of them wanted to sing on it immediately.
“Their response was overwhelming,” Lyman recalls. “I actually couldn’t believe it. Alex was excited to try things that aren’t typical of Chelsea Grin, Garrett added his touch, and I brought my pop punk background. After that first song, we quickly decided that this was a project that needed to be taken seriously, which led us to where we are now.”
During 2011, the trio found time to enter the studio with Stetson “Bucket” Whitworth [Chelsea Grin] handling production and Bertrand Poncet [Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!] mixing and mastering. Pulling from a broad spectrum of influences that ranges from Coldplay to MxPx to Whitechapel, they tapped into something undeniably unpredictable.
First single “Choices” slips from a kinetic punk intro into a battering verse before spiraling out through an orchestral bridge. Koehler’s signature guttural screams provide the perfect counterpoint to Garfield’s entrancing clean melodies, giving the track a dynamic sense of duality.
Lyman goes on, “The song is about all of the choices you make in life. All of our inspirations come together in the music to create something different. Every choice you make has an effect on the rest of your life. That’s a heavy concept. ”
Speaking of “heavy”, the EP opener “Revenge” blasts with bloodthirsty guitars and shrill growls. It’s certified moshpit-ready. “The song couldn’t be any other way,” affirms Lyman. “It’s definitely the angriest and most emotional track we’ve got. It’s written about how Garrett’s girlfriend of two years broke up with him and got engaged a week later. It delves into the natural, innate urge we all experience when someone stabs us in the back. You want to prove to that person it was the worst mistake ever.”
In 2012, Hearts & Hands inked a deal with The Artery Foundation and Razor & Tie, and they’ve got their sights set on recording a full-length and touring full-time. In the meantime, Lyman has one important goal for the band’s music.
“I hope people enjoy it,” he finishes. “There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that went into this. Take it in and embrace how it makes you feel. If that happens, then we’re on the right track.”