Raised in Florida, artist and designer Chase Heard was educated in Virginia where he developed his painting skills and met the friends who would become the band Wrinkle Neck Mules. After several years painting and playing music with the Mules he relocated to Austin, TX to pursue his passion for design. He received his Masters of Architecture at UT and worked as an architect for a number of years before turning his efforts to developing the Howler Brothers clothing brand. He continues to work and live in Austin TX designing, painting, making music, and hanging with his family.
Extended Bio by Andy Stepanian-
Chase Heard asked me to draft a bio for his website. Why would he ask me? I am not a professional writer or a journalist. By default, I write copy for the company I started with Chase, Howler Bros., and I write some songs for the band I started with Chase, Wrinkle Neck Mules. I suppose these facts make me the closest thing to a writer he knows and he didn’t want to be pathetic and write it himself.
A bio in this context is hard to write because I don’t want to make Chase look like he is running for city council or applying for a job. He is solidly employed and mostly uninterested in politics. Regardless, I will set out in earnest to do this in order to fulfill my promise to my friend, business partner, band mate and the father of my god child.
Chase Heard is one of the most multi-talented dudes I know. He is a rare breed of Renaissance man who has managed to be a successful father, painter, banjo player, guitarist, singer, songwriter, architect, college football player, clothing designer and entrepreneur in just over 30 years. How did he do that? I guess it all started back in Orlando, Florida where Chase grew up. If we could teleport back to Edgewater High School in Orlando circa 1995 we would find young Chase starring as the quarterback and kicker for the Eagles, running to the beach every chance he could to hone his surfing chops and doodling Town & Country tiki characters and Bones Brigade icons on his Trapper Keeper. We also would have witnessed some Vanilla Ice inspired hair cuts that involved steps and razor lines and some downright nasty break dancing skills. After all, Jamlando was ground zero for boy bands and an incubator for teen idols in the nineties.
Alas, Chase’s path diverged when he chose to head to University of Virginia for college. At UVa, Chase joined the Cavalier football squad as a kicker (and a short stint as a long snapper – a tough job for someone 5’10, 155). After a couple years of practice squad abuse, Chase traded in his helmet and focused on his dual degree in Economics and Studio Art. He stuck around Charlottesville for a fifth year in the Aunspaugh Fellowship, a program for graduating art students with commercial promise.
It was during that fifth year that a few interesting things began to take shape for young Chase. His hair was now long and step free and the music he listened to was now more likely to feature pedal steel guitars and banjos than five young men dancing in unison. Most importantly, he was honing both his painting and musical craft. His paintings – mostly large oils on canvas – revealed heavy inspiration from the people and places of Florida and the folklore and life of the coastal South. He began producing many commissioned pieces and works for gallery showings all over the U.S.
In music, Chase joined me in forming a band called Wrinkle Neck Mules. At the outset, we really had no intention of ever doing anything beyond rocking a few frat gigs and getting fired up on beer. Our initial sets included a hilarious diversity of songs ranging from Waylon Jennings to Big Tymers. It wasn’t until four years later, in 2003, that we recorded an album called Minor Enough on a home computer. We had absolutely no clue what we were doing. I guess there was something in our cluelessness that played in our favor because the record gained a little bit of recognition both in the U.S. and, to our amazement, Europe.
So, what should a band do that has a glimmer of success in the U.S. and is praised by a few German alternative country disc jockeys? Set out on the road full time and stake their entire future on it, of course. So, that’s what we did starting in 2004. We toured heavily in the U.S. particularly in the southern states, hit Europe and forayed into Canada. We opened for David Lee Roth. We opened for Willie Nelson. We met Tiffany and the original Huggy Bear from Starsky & Hutch because there was some kind of comic convention going on at our hotel in Miami. We broke down no less than 15 times and even had our vans’ airbags deploy without reason in heavy Texas interstate traffic.
Along the way, Wrinkle Neck Mules managed to forge a bizarre, cult-like following. To date, we have released 5 studio recordings both domestically and abroad and we still get out there and play live, albeit with a considerably scaled down touring schedule. Chase, in particular, continues to amaze me with his songwriting. I’m a huge fan of Chase Heard and his incredibly melodic songs. Go listen to “Cadillac Limousine” and you will be too.
I know what you’re asking now. Why did you slow down? You met Diamond Dave and Huggy Bear, what more did you want? Good question. Since this is Chase’s bio, I’ll stick to that part of the story. The truth is, Chase packed his bags and moved to Austin, Texas where he put his mind into pursuing a Master of Architecture at the University of Texas. As with all other things, he was good at that too. He graduated and then spent about 5 years drawing houses for people and doing whatever it is that architects do.
Like me, Chase is a full time dreamer and restless when confined. When you put us together, we are dangerously prone to talking each other into diving head first into all manner of irresponsible endeavors with marginal odds of success (see Wrinkle Neck Mules above). So, it made perfect sense in 2010 when we started brainstorming the concept for a clothing company despite the fact that we had no experience in the garment industry and no background whatsoever in the many elements of designing and sourcing goods from all over the world.
What we did have, besides a disregard for the odds, was Chase’s many talents and the richness of his background. It turns out that designing clothes is a lot like designing houses in that it requires precise lines and measurement. Add to that the eye of a graphic artist, the compositional depth of a songwriter and the balls of a 155 pound long snapper and you have the bedrock of our outdoor apparel company, Howler Brothers.
Somehow during all of the above, Chase managed to marry a fine lassie named Helen and have two cool little kids named Ginny (4) and Charlie (2). I hope they are even half as talented as their daddy.
April 26, 2013