Symphonic Passion: An Interview with Heart Avail

Aleisha Simpson found her voice in 8th grade. Despite growing up in a musical household of classical and jazz, it wasn’t until a choir audition that the entire class went silent for that she finally found her calling.

“I discovered I was really good at it and that a lot of people don’t have the range to do that with the lows and the highs. For some reason I could do it and I loved doing it and being able to challenge myself. A lot of musicians don’t challenge themselves – they stick with what’s easy – and I wanted to do what’s hard,” she said.  

She kept up that mentality throughout college where she studied music, performed in a rock band and became operatically trained. “Initially I intended to be like Sarah Brightman or Sarah McLachlan,” Aleisha said. However, she met Greg Hanson over Myspace and changed her entire career path. “We both had separate music – I was doing acoustic and he was doing symphonic, but we really liked each other’s music even though it wasn’t the same. We had been chatting [over Myspace] and when we met each other we just clicked. When we wrote our first song, it just clicked.”

At first, their live shows were just ‘Alicia and Greg’. After throwing band names around, Hanson brought up a song he wrote called The Heart Avail. “We’re all for helping people and being there for people… and Heart Avail literally means heart help so we really connected with that,” Simpson said. The name stuck.

It was after being approached to play the Knitting Factory in their hometown of Spokane, WA that Simpson and Hanson knew they had to round up a few more musicians to fill out their band. They found bassist Mick Barnes through a former drummer and he brought the sound they were looking for. Current drummer Seamus Gleason first introduced himself to Simpson at one of their live shows, offering up his services if they ever needed it. They took him up on that offer soon after. Finally, Simpson felt that everything was in the right place.

Their recently released self-titled EP is comprised of their best songs and is the stepping stone they need to move from locally known to nationally known. They have a lot of passion – both on and off stage – and it’s something you can hear in the lyrics and through Simpson's vocal range. Emotion is a main theme throughout the record and the ability to feel a strong emotion on each track is something hard to come by these days. The emotions run deep through their lyrics and are done so purposefully. “We kind of have meaning underneath the surface so you really have to think what the song is about, it’s not just right there. Three lyrics and that’s your whole song – we’re not really about that,” Simpson said.

With a new album and tour in the works for this spring, luck is surely on Heart Avail’s side.