Heart to Gold
By Tosin Faseemo and Allison Colsch
Heart to Gold is a punk rock band that has been jamming together for years. Grant Whiteoak plays guitar and vocals, Sidian Johnson plays bass, and Blake Kuether is on the drums. Following numerous demos published on Bandcamp, their debut album, “Comp,” was released in 2018. Since then, they have been playing shows around the country. Read about the inspiration behind the band name and their plans for the future.
Q: How did you all meet?
I met Sid through my friend Tom. After that, I met Blake since Tom, Sid, and Blake all went to the same high school so they were relatively connected.
Q: How or why did you guys decide to form a band?
A: Blake was in his own band before Sid and I even had the idea of a band, and it stemmed from me and Sid just hanging in mutual circles. Sid told me that he was playing bass and guitar, and I had already been playing guitar for however long. We were really into old-school style punk rock like the Ramones, and we liked the catchy style. It was something easy for us to play and relate to… so while we were messing around we wrote two songs and started jamming together, bass and guitar, I guess out of boredom.
Q: What is the story behind your band name?
A: Are you ready? This is a very long, long story. So I was in high school with my friends, and at the time, we were really into smoking pot. One night, we were at home with no parents around, lighting up. Later, we were about to go to sleep, and there was this crazy noise that we started hearing. It turns out it was my friend’s mom and her significant other at the time. We all just knew that they were belligerent and super drunk, and my friend opened the door and yelled at his mom and her boyfriend to get them to stop, and when they came in, they were upset at us because the house smelled like weed. The guy was yelling at us, trying to teach us a lesson about being men or something, and it all got very funny for us. I mean, we were high school kids, and this guy was a piece of shit. He got angrier and angrier as we laughed, and when he lunged at us, we threw him back against a dresser. This got him started on another rant, and he just started pointing at his heart, shouting, “Heart to gold! Heart to gold!” Basically, after that, things died down, and I thought that “heart to gold” sounded like a super cool band name.
Q: How did you guys start performing? Like, did you guys start at house parties?
A: Well, Sid and I were going to school in Red Wing for guitar building and repair, and we never played shows while we were there in college. Things kind of shifted a little bit, and Sid actually stopped going to school there, but I continued my last year there. We technically played our first show in a weird recreation center. After that, we played a few house shows, and we started playing bars. So we definitely got our recognition by doing that stuff.
Q: What is your dream venue for a live show?
A: I want to sell out a show at Madison Square Garden. Sid and Blake say First Avenue.
Q: Who are your musical inspirations?
A: Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Nirvana, Rush all come to mind.
Q: What’s the meaning behind your album titled “Comp”?
A: We wanted to kind of appeal to everybody who wanted to interpret it in whatever way they wanted to interpret it. Some of the songs on the album “Comp” stem back to when I had written songs… in Red Wing. Once we started putting things together and compiling it, we wanted to make it a self-title, but at the same time, some of those songs weren’t all of us. It was more of a compilation of songs throughout a period of time, so that’s why we went with “Comp.” But we also liked the idea that people could think it was a lot of different things like “computer” or “complicated.”
Q: What was it like opening for HUNNY and Hockey Dad at Seventh Street Entry?
A: If I’m being frank, it was very cold. It was hard to get the crowd warmed up because we are definitely a lot different than Honey and Hockey Dad. We’re just a little more aggressive when it comes to the punk rock aspect. The only reason we got in the show was because I am friends with the band HUNNY, and they invited us to come open for them. Usually, when we play, things are a little more rambunctious, but there, it was more head nods and stares. But it was still great, and it was fun.
Q: At shows, do you usually have people moshing? Is that a reaction you get since other bands might get other reactions?
A: It’s all about what you display as a band and what gets you going. I started going to local bands because I love to put my head up, not knowing anyone, and jump into the crowd. That feeling you can get from being with people who will not drop you and are willing to uplift you makes you feel like you are truly participating in the show. And if anyone feels that way when they come and see us, that is all that I can ask for. So it makes it a lot easier for us if the crowd is as into it as we are.
Q: Who would be your ideal artist to collaborate with on a song?
A: I want to collab with someone that would bring us to the next tier, someone like Billie Eilish or Hayley Williams. Someone totally outside of our realm. We have a list, Pharrell Williams, Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Rage Against the Machine.
Q: What’s your songwriting process like?
A: Very weird, I guess. I come up with riffs all the time, and then I just add foundations for chord progressions, basically. I used to write full songs usually and then have the others put their flavor in it. More recently, it’s been more pieces that we’ll put together and work on until we feel it’s long enough to be a song, and the lyrics come usually right before the song’s recorded. Sometimes it’s a lengthy process, and things don’t feel complete until the last minute, but that’s just how it rolls sometimes.
Q: How do you combat writer’s block?
A: You know, I don’t really deal with writer’s block because I don’t necessarily sit down to write a song. I just like to play my guitar, and if I’m inspired or influenced by something that I’ve been listening to recently, I’ll just improv some stuff while I’m hanging out. Sometimes, I’ll try to set up a song so that it has a certain sound, and I’ll keep that in mind so that I will pick words that associate with that sound or feeling. But I don’t really get upset or worried with writer’s block because the words will come eventually.
Q: Which of your songs is your favorite to perform?
A: Sid says “Tony Hawk’s Nephew.” It’s a really fun song to play. Blake’s favorite is “Acne.” I think my favorite song to play right now is “Smo’.” It just makes me feel good because when people are singing along, they’re singing along for a reason. They relate to the lyrical content, and that’s a feel-good moment.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: We’re going to be out and about all over the country for a while in the summer. It’s going to be fun. We might update our gear a little bit, and hopefully we’ll be making more music. Just roll with the dice and get our music on the radio. Hopefully, we’ll get taken more seriously by the local Minnesota scene, but also by the music scene of the world. Just like other music makes us feel great, we want our music to make people feel great.