Misheard lyrics often engender laughter and occasionally social embarrassment, but in the case of Heroine Farmer, a lyrical misinterpretation gave birth to a band.
According to lead vocalist and established Austin musician Cheryl Kaderli, “Our buddy drumming at the time, Rob Davidson from the band Pompeii, misinterpreted the lyrics to Muddy Mind (Short Stories EP), thinking I was saying, ‘And they’re growing heroin farms.’ We laughed about it, and later it dawned on us that it would be a really cool band name.” The letter “E” on to “Heroin” was a later addition.
With a sound that is self-described as “early ’90s alternative with traditional singer-songwriter roots” the band is a product of the contributions and experiences of its members. Comprised of Kaderli on lead vocals and guitar, Matt Howard on bass, Joe Brindley on drums and Cody Coppin on guitar, the band lists an mélange of musical influences, including Janis Joplin, The Pixies, Willie Nelson and Radiohead.
The musical beginnings of each member are similarly eclectic and range in setting from garages here in Texas to Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Kaderli looks back on her years as a burgeoning musician with the same humorous honesty that seems to permeate many of her lyrics.
“I was basically an Texas All-State Choir nerd throughout high school” she says, self-effacingly, and explains how she “went on to study vocal performance for a year at Texas State University in San Marcos only to drop out.”
But why the shift away from the classical scene?
“While I loved singing arias, the lifestyle of a classically trained opera singer was just not something I wanted to do at the time, however, I still toy with the idea,” she says.
Regardless of intent, her classical training serves her well musically as her vocals succeed in being energetic without sacrificing any degree of musicality. Bassist Matt Howard remember his less academic musical beginnings fondly, recollecting his teenage musical endeavors that consisted largely of adult-irking adolescent jams with friends.
It was in these sessions that Howard and Coppin first started playing together. After meeting up with Kaderli through a mutual friend, Howard then encountered Brindley as an instructor at MediaTech Institute and thus HF was born.
The band can rest assured that there will be no parent pulling the plug on their current musical ventures. With the upcoming release of the new “Short Stories” EP and a dedication to, in their own words “playing as many shows as we can”, Heroine Farmer certainly won’t suffer for a lack of exposure in the Austin music scene.
What should listeners expect from the new EP? As the name suggests, succinct narrative plays an important role.
“All the songs tie together in a fictional kind of way,” Coppin says. “One part love story and two parts tragedy – About a cat lost in the big city.”
Listeners shouldn’t go bracing themselves for an extended saga however. “Short Stories” packs a punch, with several brief cuts both explosive and self aware. “Hippie Summer” is one of the band’s favorite cuts, and is a perfect example. Again, Coppin describes how this cut was a serious turning point in the band’s creative process as well as they way in which its tone sums up the goals of the new EP.
“The song literally transformed overnight from an idea Cheryl brought to practice, to a beautiful and delicate song with guts,” Coppin says. “It was the first time I thought ‘Wow – We’ve got something here/’”
Despite the often personal and emotional nature of Kaderli’s lyrics, she insists that they are meant to be a touchstone for mutual understanding rather than an exercise in self absorption.
“We all work day jobs, and definitely don’t take ourselves too seriously,” she reiterates. “I know some of my lyrics are trying to be somber and dramatic, but they are really coming from that ‘Oh Crap!’ comical place in my brain.”
Kaderli’s musical presence extends beyond Heroine Farmer, as she is featured both on local songwriter Blake Atwell’s new record, as well as two more upcoming releases. The former aspiring opera singer will also appear on Austin pop rock power group Elephant M.’s upcoming second album, and Erin Ivey’s record “Broken Gold.”
While Kaderli is the primary writer for the band, as a whole, Heroine Farmer’s creative process is decidedly democratic, which each member contributing heavily to the final product. With the artistic drive that every player seems to bring to the band, it is unlikely we will see Heroine Farmer disappearing any time soon. Austin is merely the next stage to conquer for this ambitious collective and seems like an excellent fit for a group of musicians that are driven forward by a sincere love of their craft. If there is one thing that Heroine Farmer has, it is artistic sincerity, and they have it in spades. While each of its members might struggle to imagine their lives without music, it is even more difficult to imagine a music scene without musicians like them, and as unlikely as it may be that the band will ever play at Brindley’s ideal venue, “The Restaurant at The End of The Universe,” here is to hoping they keep trying.