As a ’90s kid growing up in Seattle, The Head and the Heart singer-guitarist-keyboardist Matthew Gervais couldn’t help but become a fan of grunge.
This passion came full circle a few years ago when, during a tour stop in northeast Ohio, the popular indie-folk and alternative band were treated to a personal tour of Rock & Roll Hall. of Fame.
“When I was young and impressionable, grunge was happening, so it was really cool to see artifacts from that era,” said Gervais, calling from Nashville. “We have to go back to the warehouse. There’s a very memorable Pearl Jam performance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ where Eddie Vedder wore a shirt with a ‘K’ on it that was for Kurt Cobain.
“They had this T-shirt, which they showed me. I was basically holding it. It was so weird to connect this moment that felt, like, very just larger than life. It’s kind of surreal, like being in a primordial brain state when you’re younger, in your early 22s. Definitely, it was a very cool experience to see that.
The Head and the Heart – due to perform May 29 at Agora Cleveland – recently released their fifth studio album, “Every Shade of Blue”.
Similar to the group’s 2019 effort, “Living Mirage,” which includes two No. 1 singles in “Missed Connection” and “Honeybee,” the outfit — more than a decade after bursting onto the music scene — continues to spread their creative wings.
“The irony of this group, I’ve come to realize, is that there’s no comfort zone,” laughed Gervais. “The comfort zone is that place of discomfort. This is what we are used to. There are a lot of different musical tastes in the band and a lot of different approaches.
“There’s always a bit of this back-and-forth between embracing or acknowledging the band’s roots, like a more folkish sort of background, and then the kind of more pop sensibilities that have always been there.”
New songs on “Every Shade of Blue” that indicate the band’s evolution include an old-school sound of The Head and the Heart on “Taking My Time (Wrong Woman)”, as well as the big sounds “Starstruck” and “Tiebreaker.”
“A song like ‘Don’t Show Your Weakness’ was a different approach,” Gervais said. “It was written by me, (wife) Charity Rose Thielen and (pianist) Kenny (Hensley). We three had never written together.
“That type of writing unit wasn’t really represented in the band in that particular way, so there are different things like that that come into play.”
The biggest takeaway from “Every Shade of Blue” is The Head and the Heart continues to eschew easy, catchy hooks for a more meticulously layered sonic experience. While not overly esoteric, it definitely challenges listeners who, in the end, are rewarded with something special.
“I don’t know if it necessarily shows where we’re going after this record,” he said, “but it definitely scratched a lot of creative itch for different people.
“We were just embracing being out of the comfort zone and expanding our own spectrum of what we are capable of.”
head and heart
When: 7:30 p.m. on May 29.
Or: Agora Theater, 5001 Prospect Ave., Cleveland.
Tickets: $39.50 to $75.