New Audio: Austin’s High Heavens Share Dreamy and Nostalgia-Inducing “Life is a Loan Shark”

Austin indie outfit High Heavens can trace the bulk of their origins back to 1996: Austin-based emo punk troubadours Glorium were invited to do a southern US tour with DC punk legends Fugazi. During this tour, Glorium’s guitarist Ernest Salaz met and befriended Fugazi’s front of house engineer Nick Pelicciotto, who also played in Edsel and New Wet Kojak.

Salaz went on to play with I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness but he remained friends with Pelicciotto. Back in 2017, the duo started High Heavens, a band built on their mutual musical interests over the past decade. The band’s first lineup featured Jeremy Erwin (keys), Crime in Choir’s Jonathan Saggs (bass), and John Matthew Walker (vocals).

Their Stuart Sikes-produced full-length debut, Springtime Don’t Call features album title track “Springtime Don’t Call.” The band was able to play one last year but tensions arose: Erwin had enough of Austin and moved to Colorado; Pelicciotto and Skaggs decided to purse other musical interests. As a result of this massive lineup change, the band itself went through a radical transformation.

Salaz and Walker decided to record a few more songs with Sikes — without a band. Salaz then reached out to his former Glorium bandmate, George Lara who’s now playing with ’60s Chicano soul outfit Eddie & The Valiants and San Antonio-based pop outfit The Please Help to record some bass parts and Lara’s The Please Help bandmate Juan Ramos to record some drum parts. Additional recording was done at The BBQ Shack by Austin-based guitarist Jason Morales, who has played with Tia Carrera, Black Mercy, Migas and Olympia, WA-based Helltrout. The band’s old friend . . . And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead’s Conrad Keely contributed sax and Rhodes on “Hundred Bullets” and additional keyboard on their latest single “Life is a Loan Shark.”

“Life is a Loan Shark” is a slow-burning and dreamy bit of nostalgia-inducing pop centered around Walker’s plaintive delivery, twinkling Rhodes, atmospheric synths, supple bass lines and gently strummed guitar. Featuring key work from Jeremy Erwin, “Life is a Loan Shark” is inspired by Angelo Badalamenti‘s Twin Peaks score and Richie Valens — but also seems to nod at Scott Walker, thanks in part to its melancholy and heartbroken air.

The band explains that the song is about boyhood memories and lost love.

High Heavens is currently rehearsing with a new lineup and will be playing shows across Texas in November. So for my Texan friends, be on the lookout.