Neon Indian Guitarist Ronnie Gierhart Leaves Band, Starts New Ronnie Heart Project

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Neon Indian, for all intents and purposes, has always been an Alan Palomo-helmed project -- at least in the studio. In live settings, however, Palomo's always relied on some help.

Turns out, though, that he's lost a big part of his backing team this week. Neon Indian's flashy guitar player, Ronnie Gierhart, whose muscly licks have gone a long way toward propelling that band's live show, tells DC9 that he has formally left the band, having returned home to Dallas-Fort Worth, both to finish college and to start work on his own musical project.

A play on words with his name, Gierhart's new project is called, quite simply, Ronnie Heart. And, as one might expect, it sonically explores some territory not altogether different from Neon Indian's offerings, albeit from a more guitar-heavy perspective.

"I guess I wanted to pursue a little bit of my own passion," says Gierhart, who confirms that his departure from Neon Indian comes just as Palomo has started working on that band's newest crop of material. "It wasn't anything weird or anything bad with the band. I just wanted to blaze my own path."

And he's already started work on that new musical path: Earlier this month, Gierhart traveled to Waxahachie to visit This Will Destroy You drummer Alex Bhore's studio, just to start experimenting with a new sound. There, the two, whose friendship dates back to when Gierhart still played in local indie pop outfit Gazelles and Bhore drummed for emotive alt-country outfit The New Frontiers, recorded an experimental track called "Sultan Flower," which features Bhore on drums and Gierhart on everything else. Give the track a listen and download after the jump.

"I didn't have any idea what I was going to do when I got in the studio," Gierhart says of the song. "I'd never before written a song from start to finish, so I still don't know that this is necessarily what I'm going for as far as the concrete sound."

Nonetheless, though, he's pretty pleased with the results. And he promises more tracks to come in the near future.

"Neon Indian, for me, was just a way-fast thing," Gierhart says. "And being the more mellow, introverted person that I am, it was hard. But it was definitely fun. And I don't have any regrets about the past few years."

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