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The Empty Hearts

All Class
All Class

The Empty Hearts features an impressive line-up of musicians. Guitarist Elliot Easton tells SHANE PINNEGAR that the band’s debut LP was as much fun to make as it is to listen to.
The debut album from The Empty Hearts – the newest ‘supergroup’ on the block – might be the most fun you’ll have on CD this year, with nods to The Who, The Rolling Stones and The Faces.
“I think that’s the key to the whole thing,” the guitarist – a member of new wave band The Cars for many years, and also a veteran of Creedence Clearwater Revisited, as well as having four solo albums under his belt – says, “that we had so much fun making it, that it is fun to listen to, because I think that comes through in the music.

“We had a great time making it. It wasn’t a million overdubs or people recording their parts separately and stuff like that. It was the four of us just bashing away in a room. When you make a record and you have everybody playing in the room together, you get all these swirling overtones or the cymbals mixed with the guitars. The guitar leaks a little bit into the drum mic or the bass leaks into the guitar mic. It just creates this joyous noise! I don’t think that there’s any way that you can simulate that other than just having a bunch of good musicians playing together and playing off each other.”

The Empty Hearts – christened from Little Steven’s super-secret list of unused band names – also features Clem Burke, drummer with Blondie, Wally Palmar of The Romantics on vocals/rhythm guitar and Andy Babiuk of ‘80s garage fuzz revivalists, The Chesterfield Kings, on bass. In addition to elements of all those bands, The Empty Hearts’ sound is thick with homage for the bands of the ‘60s British Invasion (Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan also makes a few appearances) and the ‘70s wave of garage rock.
“I think that just comes down to each of us just playing the way we play,” says Easton, the architect of the guitar sound on The Cars hit singles Just What I Needed, Let’s Go, Shake It Up and Magic. “If you hear the guitar in a Cars record, you’re hearing me. If you hear an Empty Hearts record, you’re hearing me. Theres some touchstones that you say, ‘I can recognise that a little bit from a Cars’ record’. It’s just because that’s the way I play. It wasn’t really discussed or meant to be particularly a homage to anything more than what music we like.

“Yes, some of it might have a garage rock vibe,” he continues. “That’s for sure. When I listen to it, I hear things from, say, the Beatles White Album. Like I Don’t Want Your Love always sounds to me like something that could go on The White Album. Then, there’s a countryish song that sounds almost like a Dead Flowers-Stonesy kind of thing. There’s different elements.”

With such a pedigree of experience between the band members (they have nine US Top 10 hit singles between them) ranging through garage rock, punk and new wave, what comes through strongest on the record is their love of superpowered melodies. At its roots, The Empty Hearts is a classic pop rock album.
“I’ve always felt it doesn’t really matter the genre you’re talking about or what style of music,” Easton elaborates. “For me, it’s always come down to songs. You could make the best recording of a lousy song and nobody will care or you could make a so-so recording of a great song and you’ve got a chance.”

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