In their nine years together, The Parson Red Heads have migrated from the Pacific Northwest to Southern California, fought their way through the Los Angeles music scene, and returned home to Portland to make a fresh start. Earlier this month, the Red Heads released their third full-length, Orb Weaver, which finds the bandmates honing their sound and finding a balance between enjoying life and making music.
Unlike their calming, quiet, and more-controlled back catalog, Orb Weaver is marked by a louder, rocking take on the Red Heads’ sweet folksy sound. In discussing its making, frontman Evan Way points to more improvisation as a guiding force. There’s also a looming psychedelic-rock influence, no doubt inspired by the band’s live show.
“We try to do the best we can to represent where we’re at as a band at the time and make something that is pretty honest,” said Evan. “We just wanted to make a record that was a little more vibrant and dynamic than maybe what we’ve done recently; we wanted it to have higher peaks.”
While living in L.A., the Red Heads played a handful of shows, toured, and made music, at one point even ballooning to a 15-piece band, but after six years of juggling day jobs, evening practices, and trying to make rent, they realized SoCal maybe wasn’t the most sustainable option. According to Evan, the move back to Portland enabled the band to focus more on their music and on the group as a whole.
“We realized even if it isn’t in the cards for us to do all that stuff — have hit songs and do a big world tour — none of us do this for a living; we still all have day jobs,” he explained. “We’ve reached a point over the past couple of years…and were really totally okay with it. In a way, it makes us able to enjoy the band even more because it’s not our job; it’s something that we do because we really love it.”
Nowadays, the Red Heads are a solid quartet consisting of guitarist Sam Fowles, bassist Charlie Hester, Evan, and his wife, Brette Marie Way, who plays drums and shares vocal duty. One could even say they have a new addition to the lineup, as last year Evan and Brette Marie welcomed their first son, George, who now accompanies the band on tour.
As far as the future goes, the Red Heads know one thing is for sure: more records, more shows, and continuing to do what they love.
For now, they’ll hit the road in support of Orb Weaver. The tour stops at Muddy Waters Café on Tuesday, November 5, at 8 p.m. The Kinds and Mimicking Birds start the night off at 8 p.m. Call (805) 966-9328 for info.