In Love and Music: Houston’s The Band Hennessy Puts the Soul Back in Rock ’n’ Roll

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By Donalevan Maines

Making beautiful music together might make millionaires of Ashley Hennessy and Heather Miller.

From Houston to Nashville, some big names in the industry are banking on the out Friendswood couple to strike gold any minute as co-lead singers of The Band Hennessy.

“We’ve been told by a multitude of fans and people who have listened to us, ‘Harness that sound and you girls can bring back the soul to rock music,’” explains Hennessy. “They say, ‘You will be millionaires.’”

“Sing to each other,” their producer advises, says Hennessy. “Play up your relationship. In your music, deliver that emotion: it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

The women are planning their nuptials at Las Velas in the Galleria area on September 3, 2017, irrespective of whether they will be millionaires by then.

Their rise into music’s stratosphere could be determined by the songs on a new EP they recorded July 28–31 at Up/Down Recording Studios, located on a small farm between San Marcos and Wimberley.

“We went there to explore our sound and our harmonies, and hammer stuff out,” says Hennessy, heeding the advice of many music insiders who recognize that while both women have phenomenal voices, their biggest strength comes when they sing together.

Hennessy, who grew up in the “Clear Lake-ish” area, formed The Band Hennessy as a trio in 2013 with lead guitarist Christian Weigand of Houston and drummer Chris Piper of Deer Park. Each musician played a major role in cultivating the group’s collective take on alternative rock music, anchored by Hennessy’s voice and a heavy, driving bass line, resonating lead guitar, and intricate drum patterns.

Meanwhile, Hennessy built a name for herself in local singing competitions, including her victory as Houston Pride Superstar in 2011. Its promoter, Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle, would later introduce the band to Justin Furstenfeld, lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist for a band called Blue October, and owner of Up/Down Recording Studios.

Hennessy also won Bay Area Houston Idol 2014 before returning the next year to crown Miller as Bay Area Houston Idol 2015.

Miller, who hails from LaPorte, was a staple with Houston cover bands for more than 10 years, drawing fulsome comparisons to Janis Joplin, including Miller’s acoustic rendition of the late singer’s hit “Me and Bobby McGee.”

She sang harmony on The Band Hennessy’s breakout single, “I’ve Been Broken Before,” before joining the group, which proffered Miller an opportunity to help pen and perform original material. “She brought a breath of fresh air,” says Hennessy. “She has been a force to reckon with from day one.”

In the studio last month, in addition to new material, the band cut a new rendition of “I’ve Been Broken Before” to showcase the blend of Hennessy’s voice with Miller’s. The band also revisited its self-composed single, “Cyanide,” for which the musicians created a shot drink with the same name.

“We like to take that shot together with our fans,” says Miller.

“It’s a song about any toxic relationship,” she explains. “It could be a struggle within yourself or with someone else. Anything where you start out vulnerable, but through your journey you find strength and independence and you finally stand up and say, ‘I don’t need to deal with this.’”

Both Miller and Hennessy were breaking up with significant others when Miller joined the band.

“We became best friends,” says Hennessy. “We had music in common, and Heather was exploring the transition from cover bands to original material. We went through a period of mutual love and appreciation that laid the foundation for our relationship. I fell in love with my best friend.”

Hennessy adds, “I’ve always been a daddy’s girl, so coming out to my dad at age 16 was a very emotional experience. He cried, I cried. He said, ‘I don’t know if I can see you with another girl.’ But when he met Heather, he fell in love with her when he saw how much she loves and adores me. She is like his own daughter now.”

First impressions inspired another song that The Band Hennessy recorded in July for the EP that could make them a household name. In its bridge, the couple sings:

I’m not about to hide myself or my creed . . .

And I won’t run away from the fact that

I’m free . . .

And it’s not about the words you

Use to cut me.

It’s just about . . .

the face that you see . . .

The face that you see . . .

The face that you see . . .

And it’s not about the words you

Use to cut me.

It’s just about . . .

the face that you see . . .

The face that you see . . .

I’m not afraid to be me . . .

Hennessy says, “My line has always been, ‘You got your knives out . . .’ People point their finger, but they don’t really see me. I have short hair and tattoos, so maybe I invite certain reactions, but it’s especially unfair to Heather. People see this hot blond girl with sex appeal, and all they see is a pretty face. It’s so not true. She is extremely intelligent, driven, family-oriented; she has a wicked sense of humor. How do you dumb that down to ‘just a pretty face?’”

The band hopes to change some hearts and minds when their label rolls out the new EP this fall.

Meanwhile, Hennessy and Miller have a wedding to help orchestrate. “A guy is going to build me a custom tux,” says Hennessy. “I have some ideas in mind, but first I have to see the color of Heather’s wedding dress.”

The Band Hennessy performs regularly in the Bay Area of southeast Texas.

The quartet’s biggest gig was performing last summer at downtown Houston’s Bayou Music Center, going on right before Nashville headliner Curtis Braly, the out power-ballad success who hails from Humble.

The kickoff to Braly’s “All About the Ride” tour also featured the Scooter Brown Band and out country artist Ty Herndon.

You can get more on The Hennessy Band at hennessyband.com.

Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.


Don Maines

Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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