Kamikaze Hearts to headline first night of an expanded Restoration Festival

It’s been just about five years since The Kamikaze Hearts played their last show. But even though th
Sharon Van Etten will play at the Restoration Festival in Albany Saturday night. (photo: Dusdin Condren)
Sharon Van Etten will play at the Restoration Festival in Albany Saturday night. (photo: Dusdin Condren)

It’s been just about five years since The Kamikaze Hearts played their last show.

During those five years, the band’s members continued on as integral parts of the Albany music scene. Matthew Loiacono became Matthew Carefully, releasing a string of eclectic solo albums. Troy Pohl focused on engineering and producing, notably working on Sean Rowe’s second album “Magic,” which helped Rowe land his current record deal with Anti-Records. Bob Buckley is a familiar face at area shows and open mics, lending his talents to a number of bands, while Gaven Richard has worked on several projects, including Salon Style.

But even though the members of The Kamikaze Hearts haven’t been on a stage together during that time, they’ve still been working together on their various projects.

Staying in touch

“We played our last show on Dec. 21, 2007,” Pohl said. “There was no hostility or anything, we just had been doing it for so long and we decided to take a break. It wasn’t necessarily even a breakup; we still conducted a lot of business together — I worked with Gaven on some of his stuff, and I mixed and mastered most of Matthew’s stuff. We’re also involved with Collar City Records together.”

Restoration Festival

When: 6 p.m. Friday; noon Saturday and Sunday

Where: St. Joseph’s Church, 38 Ten Broeck St., Albany

How Much: $50 (weekend pass); $25 (doors) or $20 (advance) for Friday and Sunday; $40 (doors) or $30 (advance) for Saturday

More Info: restfest.net

In November of last year, a retrospective blog on the alt-country band appeared on obscuresound.com, which stirred up some nostalgic feelings within the group and got them thinking about a reunion. When B3nson Recording Company’s Alex Muro and Louis Appicello approached the band about headlining a night at the third Restoration Festival, taking place Friday through Sunday at St. Joseph’s Church in Albany, it seemed like perfect timing.

Rest Fest Schedule


7 p.m. — Better Pills

8:15 p.m. — Common Prayer

9 p.m. — The Kamikaze Hearts


1:15 p.m. — Barons in the Attic

2:15 p.m. — Careers

3 p.m. — Dryer

4 p.m. — Goldtooth

5 p.m. — Hop Along

6:45 p.m. — Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned

8 p.m. — Mount Eerie

9:30 p.m. — Sharon Van Etten


1:15 p.m. — Swamp Baby

2:15 p.m. — Ramblin Jug Stompers

3 p.m. — Bryan Dewan

4 p.m. — Giles Bennett & The Petrified Woods

4:45 p.m. — The Loom

6 p.m. — The Parlor

7 p.m. — Willy Mason

“It seemed to us a pretty good opportunity to do it,” Pohl said. “As opposed to getting back together and playing a show in a club, this is a slightly larger scale and we can do something a little bit more special. And it seemed like the right time to do it. It’s been sort of long enough that people still remembered us — if we waited a little longer I think people might have started to forget.”

The band will headline the first evening of the festival, part of the expanded lineup of events this year. The past two years, the festival was confined to Saturday and Sunday, and last year the headliners were a no-show on Sunday because of Hurricane Irene. As in previous years, a quarter of all ticket sales will go to the Historic Albany Foundation, caretaker of St. Joseph’s.

The Kamikaze Hearts will be joined by national headliners Mount Eerie and Sharon Van Etten on Saturday, with Willy Mason headlining Sunday. The rest of the festival features a lineup pulling from local groups (the B3nson collective is heavily represented with Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned and The Parlor) and smaller out-of-town acts such as The Loom from Brooklyn and Hop Along from Philadelphia.

“We were sort of trying to add more variety than just a couple headlining bands and a bunch of local bands you can see every week,” said Muro, who also sings and plays guitar with Sgt. Dunbar. “It’s cool that we did get a lot of interest both from local bands and out-of-town bands who were looking to get on the bill.”

Covering career

The Kamikaze Hearts are preparing to play a set that will cover their entire career, back to when Pohl and Richard first formed the band in 1999. Through 2007, the band went through numerous lineup changes before settling on the five final members in 2004. Their discography, which includes early out-of-print albums “I Think You’re Lying and I Won’t Go With You” and the instrumental “Loomis,” and their final album, 2006’s “Oneida,” will be fully represented, along with a few (relatively) new songs, written right before the hiatus.

“It’s actually been pretty surprising how quickly the stuff came back to us,” Pohl said. “I also think we’ve all gotten a bit better at playing and singing and such in the years since we stopped playing together. I think the hardest part was remembering certain lyrics.”

Back in town

Brooklyn’s Van Etten will be making her second appearance in Albany this year at the festival. In July she opened for Conor Oberst at The Egg with only her own guitar and a harmony vocalist for accompaniment. At Restoration Festival, she’ll have her full band with her, which has been steadily coalescing since her 2010 sophomore release “Epic.”

“Solo, I had to go play a lot of older songs, since that’s how those were written,” Van Etten said recently while en route to a tour stop in Kansas City, Mo. “The new record [‘Tramp,’ released in February] is with the band, so it’ll be a lot more new songs, more rock — maybe a stripped-down rock set. But you know, it’s not gonna be mellow.”

A New Jersey native who also spent time in college in Tennessee, Van Etten released her first album, “Because I Was In Love,” in 2009. Soon she made guest appearances on The Antlers’ 2009 album “Hospice” and The National song “Think You Can Wait.”

The National connection served Van Etten well when that band’s Aaron Dessner signed on to produce “Tramp.” The recording wasn’t easy, however — during the 14-month process, Van Etten was essentially homeless, sleeping on friends’ couches in the Brooklyn area in between sessions.

“[The songs] were basically like diary entries over the course of two years, a year and a half,” Van Etten said. “I came to the studio with skeletons of songs I had, not knowing what to do with them — little journal entries of this crazy time I was going through. All my stuff was in storage, and Aaron and I were working on the record in our off time. I would bring the skeletons to the studio and we would slowly build on it.”

The resulting 12 songs are more fully fleshed out than her previous albums, and understandably have a bit of a dark streak.

“This record, there has been a lot more confidence in my writing and in the band,” she said. “I opened up to other people colalborating on my songs, and pushed myself to try something new — not necessarily a bigger sound, but try different stuff and grow.”

New release

Perhaps surprisingly, The Kamikaze Hearts also have a new release up their sleeves. The band will drop the 32-song “Live 05-07,” on USB thumb drive at the festival, featuring live recordings from the final lineup of the band as well as a full live show on video.

This reunion is being advertised as a one-off, although Pohl isn’t ruling out future activity from the band.

“I think we’ll see how the show goes,” he said. “The other thing is we’re putting out a live record . . . to commemorate the show, and we also have songs that haven’t been recorded. So there’s certainly a possibility that we’ll get together and do some recording at the very least; we’ll have to see. I think a full Kamikaze Hearts touring schedule is probably not in the cards.”

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