With diverse influences like Bruce Springsteen, Jeff Tweedy, and the late, great Tom Petty, it’s not hard to see how Adam Baker & The Heartache authentically cover so many genres.
Even back in the summer of 2015 when the band formed as a simple three-piece, Baker was looking to expand its sound.
“When we first started playing music together, it was as a three-piece riff-rock band with lots of fuzz, huge kick drums, loud amps, and the like,” Baker said. “Since then, Bryan Gripp and I have continued the band through several formats and member changes. It took us a while to find our sound. But when we found our current lineup, everything sort of clicked into place.
“Now we focus a lot more on the songwriting, dynamics, harmony, and just trying to put on a fun show together. Playing music with people you like being around makes a huge difference in what you put out.”
Decades of songwriting
Baker is the jack-of-all-trades, bringing vocals, guitar, banjo, and ukulele to the group. He is accompanied by Bryan Gripp on vocals, bass, and foot tambourine; Victor Zapari on drums and percussion; Michael Newsome on keyboard, mandolin, and guitar; and Tessa Brumbeloe on guitar and vocals.
“I’ve been playing and writing music for about 22 years after getting a guitar on my 15th birthday,” Baker said. “Just about everyone in the band also started playing and singing pretty early on in life.”
The band released its first EP, Scars Will Heal, in late 2015, and have subsequently released two full-length albums. The band is currently in the process of writing and recording yet another album of originals.
“A lot of the writing is about personal experience and some of the trials I’ve had in life with difficult relationships, loss, health situations, and love,” Baker said. “I also like to write a lot through observation of different situations that happen around me that I’m not particularly involved in but find interesting.
“I do have a tendency to add some fictional touches to lyrics as well both to add some extra interest and obscure certain details from songs. I’ll defer to Tom Petty on the subject of where the ideas come from, ‘I hesitate to try and understand it for fear that it might go away.’”
Expanding the reach
Baker and his crew sound like Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit with their indie-folk sound plus dashes of rock, singer-songwriter, and alt-country, and a pinch of pop.
Though the songs usually start straight from Baker’s brain, they take on a life of their own once they reach the team.
“I generally come up with the lyrics, melody, and basic chord structure and then bring it to the band during a band rehearsal or sometimes simply by sending them scratch tracks online,” Baker said. “At that point, everyone else crafts their own parts and it sort of comes together with everyone adding their own color and texture to each song. I prefer to let everyone get creative and play what they feel and it somehow ends up being a lot more cohesive that way.”
The music is inspiring in a way only something with a country-tinge can be. Their sound, if pushed to just the right point, can rival the Nashville sound. But these influences don’t fence in the sound to a particular genre.
“Musically, my goals both with The Heartache and as a songwriter are to expand the reach of these songs as far as I possibly can,” Baker said. “So far, we’ve had a lot of positive feedback and as long as that continues, I know there’s a reason to go out and perform for new audiences.
“If I have a message to get out, it can be summed up like this: You can get over anything difficult in your life if you’re willing to put in the effort. It may not happen overnight or even at the pace you’re hoping for, but as long as you’re willing to fight and learn to get past mistakes then you can move forward in the best way possible.”
Through their hard work and relying on the influences offered by each member, Adam Baker & The Heartache have established themselves as a unique sound here in Fort Wayne. As long as they can keep mining their own lives for fodder and keep the heart of the project intact, their music will continue to ring out.
“Going forward, we have plans of doing some shorter tours once or twice a year as well as continuing to play around Fort Wayne and the region as much as possible,” Baker said. “The Heartache is currently working on our fourth album which will hopefully be done before the end of summer. We’ve moved into doing things at a little slower pace to allow for more time spent on writing and getting the tracks right, especially with most of us working during the day.”
You can listen to Adam Baker & The Heartache on their website at adambakerandtheheartache.com or on iTunes and Spotify. You can also pick up their latest album, Shoot for the Moon, Take Out a Streetlight, at local record stores.
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