Putting Heart & Soul in Their Music: A Chat with Heart Avail

By Raven, Rock At Night Tampa-Columnist

BAND: Heart Avail, Start Date: Founded in 2013, Genre: Alternative

Band Members: Aleisha Simpson (Vocals) Greg Hanson (Guitar) Danny Bartlett (Drums) Mick Barnes (Bass) Jade (bass and piano); Hometown: Spokane, Washington

Ravens Nest GraphicAleisha Simpson has been singing ever since she can remember. She sang in select choirs throughout school and later moved on to pursue a music degree in college. She has sung everything from rock to opera and even a little country and later moved on to writing her own music. She has been the featured artist on the local radio stations include Spokane’s River and KYRS and has been the lead singer in various bands and traveled through out Washington to share her music!

Greg likes to rock! His music has a unique style unlike any other that leaves the listener wanting more. Greg has been playing music most of his life and has played with various bands and has many of his own originals that cross classical, techno and Rock! Greg mixes down, plays and records all the instrumental parts while Aleisha writes lyrics and melodies, a sound which comes together in a perfect unison and creates a haunting melody while making your body rock uncontrollably!!

In 2009 the two artists found each other through an internet radio station called Audio Candy. Both Aleisha and Greg enjoyed each others music and decided to try out a collaborative music sound, one which turned out to be a mix of harder rock with a strong female sound, resulting in something new and exciting!!!

In 2014 Danny Bartlett and Jade joined Heart Avail both bringing many years of experience. Danny kicks a sweet drum beat while Jade grooves out a chill bass sound. The addition of Danny and Jade created a sound that makes Heart Avail really stand out.

Heart Avåil 2Rock at Night had the opportunity to interview Aleisha Simpson of Heart Avail.

RAVEN: Hi, Aleisha, So When did you first start singing?

ALEISHA: Music has been a part of my life from day one. I grew up with my grandfather singing and playing guitar with me so it just became second nature. I really got into singing in junior high when during choir we had to test our ability to hear notes and sing them on pitch. I still remember the entire class going silent to hear me sing. That day the music director put me in the advance choir and it really gave me confidence in my ability.

 RAVEN: What did your family do to encourage you?

ALEISHA: My family kind of struggled with supporting my music since I did Jazz in Junior high and high school and Opera in college, neither of which my parents enjoyed. When I pursued music as a major in college I got a lot of negative feedback from family and friends. I was told I could not make music a career and it was an unrealistic expectation and I needed a real career that made money. I, of course, set out to prove them wrong. I will say when I was fresh out of college and broke as hell my little brother paid for my first song recording. My brother and I were always close and he wanted me to pursue my dream and my little sister would try to convince me to do shows like American Idol and America’s Got Talent. My siblings always believed in my talent and are very supportive of me.

 RAVEN: Who else in your family sings?

ALEISHA: The better question would be “who doesn’t?” LOL. My grandfather played guitar and wrote his own songs. My grandmother was in a band called “The Country Cousins” that was played on the radio many years ago. My mom was always singing to us as kids and even though my siblings don’t sing often–they all have lovely voices. It really is a talent that comes naturally in our family and I feel very fortunate for that.

 RAVEN: Who are your musical inspirations?

ALEISHA: Sarah Brightman would be one of my number one inspirations. I remember hearing her music when I was 19 and I was instantly hooked. When I found out she was the inspiration for the musical Phantom of the Opera I knew I was in love. Her voice, style and theatrics are incredible. Amy Lee is my second inspiration. To me she was the very first female in the U.S who sang in this gorgeous classical style with a HUGE range to hard rock music all while maintaining elegance and modesty. I really look up to her and she proved you don’t have to take off your clothes in order to be in the rock industry and that is so very rare. I will say, one of my goals is to meet and sing with Amy Lee. I want to tell her how much her music gave me hope to pursue my dream. Just thinking about it gives me goose bumps.

 RAVEN: What kind of music do you listen to today?

ALEISHA: Evanescence, Within Temptation, Nightwish, Breaking Benjamin, Deftones, Adele, Ciy and Colour, The Civil Wars, are some of my favorite bands. I honestly like a little of all genres because there is a ton of talent out there and it’s not limited to one certain style.. I also am really enjoying bands like Lindsey Stirling and 2 Cellos. I love when music breaks these ideals that it has to conform a certain way, when classical music mixes with rock, it’s like poetry and art coming together in this symphony of beauty. There are so many bands I love right now it’s hard to pick just one!

 RAVEN: OK, Aleisha, this one I love to ask Artists, What embarrassing songs might I find on your MP3 player?

ALEISHA: OK, I hate admitting this, but I have a secret love of Katy Perry. I’m not talking the stuff that you hear on the radio, but her songs that aren’t quite as popular and have hysterical videos.Deep down, I think she is just a nerdy girl that got popular and her music is really freaking funny!

 RAVEN: Where would you most like to perform?

ALEISHA: Europe. I want my world to be known worldwide and I love Europe.

 RAVEN: Who would you most like to open for?

ALEISHA: Evanescence and Within Temptation, Hands down. I know Amy Lee is kind of off on her own thing now, so I would settle for opening up for her. Just the idea of sharing a stage with her makes me so nervous and excited at the same time.

 RAVEN: If you weren’t singing, what would you be doing?

ALEISHA: In college they told me I should do engineering, but honestly, as much as I love science, I want to own a café. My dream has always been to open up a bar/café that features local musicians and has local art on the walls. I want it to have at least two stories and to be a place where people of all ages can come and just enjoy a nice creative atmosphere. And yes, of course I would play on my own stage but not tell people I was the owner.

RAVEN: Aleisha, Do you play any instruments?

ALEISHA: I taught myself piano when I was a kid so that I could always sing in tune. Then I took a few years of lessons in college. When I was a solo artist I composed most of my music at the piano and then would present it to whoever I was working with to come up with all the musical parts. I am no Mozart but I love the piano. Sometimes I’ll sit at it for hours just playing my own pieces, none of which I ever remember later on. Someday I would like to play and sing but that day is not today. I get soooo nervous playing in front of people.

 RAVEN: If you could dabble in another genre of music, what would it be?

ALEISHA: I love acoustic music. I started out that way and I really enjoy the sounds of a guitar with a voice. When both have talent it’s such a beautiful thing.

 RAVEN: OK, here’s another one I get some good answers on, So Aleisha What hidden talents do you have?

ALEISHA: I love to cook!!! My mom was a stay at home mom so I was lucky enough to be taught how to make everything from scratch. One of my favorite things to do is host parties and cook fancy recipes for all my friends and family– and I must confess, I’ve been told I throw the best parties.  The internet is a great tool for finding amazing recipes. My mom has even said, that I’m a better cook then her. Shhhhhhh.

 RAVEN: Aleisha, what advice would you give young Singer/Songwriters that want to break into the Music Industry?

ALEISHA: Don’t give up! You will hit a lot of road blocks and find people who will discourage you, maybe even tell you that you aren’t good enough, pretty enough, popular enough. You will lose friends and deal with a lot of jealousy. Ignore it all! Work really hard to make good relationships with people and market the hell out of your product, watch other musicians you admire and practice. I think a lot of bands don’t realize, you are your greatest tool. No one knows what your selling if you don’t put it out there so be your biggest fan! Believe your music is awesome and you will go far!

RAVEN:  Aleisha, how do you feel about this guy Raven promoting you…lol, Kidding but you can answer if you like? Raven is an amazing person.

ALEISHA: From the first day I signed with Kim K. Jones, he has had my back. He reached out to me and told me how much he believed in me and that meant a lot. We don’t have a ton of support in our own town so when this amazing group of people began to tell me how much they believed in us, it really started to build my confidence up. Raven promoted the hell out of our band and it has meant the world to me!

RAVEN: Last Question Aleisha, How does it feel having such earlier success and with that success being accepted to play at Sundance 2016 this year?

ALEISHA: Oh my gosh, I have to tell you this made me tear up. I am still in shock and stunned that our music is being embraced and accepted by so many amazing people in the industry. I have dreamt about going to Sundance since I was a little kid so getting to play it is a dream come true. When I was told we were playing Sundance, I couldn’t stop laughing and crying. So many people have discouraged us and tried to tear me personally down and it hasn’t always been easy to keep a smile on my face and take the high road. But I always have and always will be kind to people, ignore the haters and keep pressing on! I am so thankful to each and every person who helped us get here and 2016 is going to be even better for Heart Avail! We look forward to the challenges and opportunities and look forward to taking you all on this journey with us!

This was just mmazing I want to Thank Aleisha Simpson and Heart Avail for taking the time out of their very busy schedule to talk with and Rock At Night. Aleisha, you’re just a sweetheart and I wish you the best of success in the world. Heart Avail will rock your ear holes with a melodic and heavy sound sure to reach your soul!

Heart Avail’s “Broken FairyTale”