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the New Bodies: Getting Back Into It

the new bodies des moines band
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Photo and video by Geoff Daley

the New Bodies are ready to revisit the songs they’ve never forgotten

Most high school bands are short-lived, ending as soon as each member receives a diploma. But for the New Bodies, things have been a little different. Sure, there’ve been side projects and solo albums. There were years of crazy activity and years with nothing. But the Des Moines-based Americana/alt-country quartet has been able to survive it all.

After a yearlong hiatus, the foursome is ready to get back on the horse — a horse that will always call Iowa home.

“It just worked out that this show worked for everybody,” says Adam Bruce, the New Bodies’ lead singer and songwriter. “As we started preparing for it, we started chatting about the next couple of years. We’re at a point now where we can start putting more focus into the New Bodies. That’s exciting for me because it means there’s going to be a lot of cool stuff coming down the pipe.”

the New Bodies started as your typical high school band almost 15 years ago. Bruce was 16. He gathered a bunch of friends. They started playing some songs. Eventually, as people came and went, that band evolved into what is now: the New Bodies. Adam and guitarist Thomas Logan are the only two original band members left.

Drummer Danny Heggen and bassist Danny Wolf round out the band. Chris Ford—a.k.a. Christopher The Conquered and one half of Gloom Balloon, both Midwest stalwarts—used to be a full-time New Body, but now only plays with the group when he’s in town.

Lineup changes and individual members pursuing independent projects are the reasons why the New Bodies took a step back. Bruce has been focusing on his folk-country based solo project, releasing an EP, Wild Rose, in June. Heggen is half of the indie-pop outfit MAIDS. Wolf plays alongside his brother Jeff in Wrestling with Wolves. Logan has been working on an eerie folk-type project called The Haunted Hollows. And Ford: Well, he’s always busy.

So they took a year off. That’s long enough to kill off some bands, or at least leave them struggling to rediscover their groove. The latter was something Bruce had worried about.

“Not having played songs for almost a year, you would expect it to be pretty rough, pretty rusty,” he says, “but right out of the gate everything fell into place. It felt really good to be playing the songs.”

the new bodies des moines bandThose songs are like a tour of Des Moines. Need proof? Just listen to American Bones, the band’s 2013 album. There’s “Court Avenue,” a song that demands you drive slow with the windows down so Bruce’s dusty snarl can bounce off of the titular downtown street’s brick walls. The wailing guitar in “Village Air” sounds like a tornado siren. And “St. Vincent,” a track that harkens back to the best of Whiskeytown, is the backroads church where you go Sunday mornings to confess your Saturday night big city sins.

“There’s a long heritage of Midwestern rock and roll music, sort of that Heartland rock, which definitely inspires a lot of what we’re playing,” Bruce says. “I think there’s something to be said for the environment that you grow up in too. A lot of our songs, even though they’re rock songs, tend to have sort of this expansive feel to them. There’s a lot of space in the songs, and I think some of that comes from where we grew up in Iowa and in Des Moines.”

Despite the expanse of time — or maybe because of it — the quartet is ready to give it another go.

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