By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
It's amazing how cyclical certain aspects of the Denton music scene can be, because, for the second consecutive year, an album release show for The Heartstring Stranglers doubled as a going-away party for a founding member of the band. Last August, the chamber-folk act had just finished recording its self-titled debut album when vocalist/violinist Nazli Prisk decided to leave the band and move to South Korea. But, the biggest, most obvious difference between last weekend's CD release show/going-away party and last year's is that this time it's the band that's going away.
And, no, The Heartstring Stranglers aren't heading to Dallas like a handful of other acts who've recently made the move south of LBJ Freeway or further down the road to Austin. By the time this story reaches the stands, frontman Freddie Schulze and cellist Emily Hertz will have left Denton for Hungary, where the couple plans to spend the next year earning their master's degrees at an English-language university in Budapest.
"It's weird, the band is definitely transitioning," Schulze says. "I'm the oldest member now and Ryan [Williams] is the next, but, I guess, The Heartstring Stranglers go where I go, because we definitely plan on trying to get some gigs in Budapest." For now, the couple plans on returning to the area after earning their degrees, but a year or two could pass before the band lands stateside again.
The Heartstring Stranglers finished working on Last Days in the Prussian Era last weekend—less than a week before the album's scheduled release on Gutterth Records. "It was kind of a rush job," Hertz says. "We thought we'd just be cranking the album out by ourselves on CD-Rs. And then [Gutterth] wanted to put the album out and were urging us to finish it before we had to leave." The band won't be playing local shows or touring, so the promotion of the album falls to Gutterth, which according to Schulze is "the best thing" that could have happened to the band. "They told us they regretted not being able to release our last album," he says. "So, this is perfect because nobody is more committed to music than they are. It feels vindicating, and the fact that they want to be involved makes all the stress and work we put into this seem worthwhile."
So, The Heartstring Stranglers aren't exactly "breaking up." Schulze suggests it's more like moving on to another phase. "If you look at the band as being project-based, then there are definitely acts," he says. "When Nazli left, that was the end of Act I. And, I guess, this is the end of the second act. And this one actually ended better than I hoped it would. It's a happy ending. I think. Maybe."