The Heavenly States Bio

About - Bio

The Heavenly States (formed in 2002) have made news and garnered outstanding reviews and features in Newsweek, The Washington Post, Billboard, Spinner, The Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Spin, NPR’s All Songs Considered, Magnet, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, Reuters, Alternative Press, The Daily Telegraph (London), The Guardian (London) and others. The band's touring adventures have been documented by The New York Times, NPR's All Things Considered, NBC News, CNN and Reuters (Libya, Tunisia, London). 

The band has performed live on WXRT (Chicago), KFOG (SF), 89.3 The Current (MN), and KEXP (Seattle) and has been featured on many community and internet radio stations. Veterans of the SXSW and Sasquatch music festivals, The Heavenly States have toured the USA, Australia, the UK, Egypt, and were the first rock band to play Libya.  They performed at the Kennedy Center in 2012. 

THS has collaborated with artists and filmmakers in Milwaukee, Minneapolis and the San Francisco bay area to produce music videos for the songs “The Story Of”, "Pretty Life", "Car Wash" and "My Friends", “The Pale” and “Berlin Wall”.  A video for “The Race” was chosen by Lincoln Mercury’s 2009 Grammy artist campaign, and it aired as part of the 2009 Grammy show.  Oui track “Berlin Wall” was featured in Rolling Stone, and NPR staff from Bob Boilen's “All Songs Considered” voted “Berlin Wall” favorite video.  They also have a full-length documentary essay film about their Libya experience in the vault.  

The band is anchored by songwriters Ted Nesseth and Genevieve Gagon.  Austin musicians Gray Parsons, drummer and Benjamin Howard, bassist joined the lineup in 2012.  

List of works:

2001 Elephants From Ants single (under former moniker Fluke Starbucker)

2003 Split single with Coldplay and The Postal Service (a Devil in the Woods EP)

2003 The Heavenly States - Self Titled

2004 Beyond the Great Beyond (Australian single)

2005 Black Comet

2005 King Epiphany/Monument

2008 Delayer

2008 “Little Drummer Boy” A Foggy Holiday compilation

2011 Oui Camera Oui 

2015 triple vinyl recording – by invitation only…. 

A History

Courtesy of Michael Krugman (Generation Ecch! The Backlash Starts Here, Oasis: Supersonic Supernova, Andre the Giant)


The Heavenly States came together in 2002, united by a shared passion for complex and cathartic rock bursting with literate, provocative lyricism. A series of acclaimed albums and a seemingly endless capacity for touring – including a landmark 2005 trek to Egypt and Libya – confirmed their status as one of America's fearless music outfits, flying the flag for self-determination and intelligent, energetic rock 'n' roll. After spending much of 2008 on tour following the release of their critically acclaimed and top-ten album Delayer, the band pondered their next move, wondering how best to follow such an ambitious collection. The inspiration struck to attempt an EP, in the tradition of band favorites like Just Like Heaven, Sonic Youth, Stink, Metal Circus, Nervous Breakdown, Watery Domestic, and oh yes, Magical Mystery Tour. Their [2011] record, Oui Camera Oui, shows the short form can pack a powerful punch.  Lead tracks, “Model Son” and “Berlin Wall,” (“Gorgeous” Spin; “A Majestic Rocker” Rolling Stone) are getting repeat spins at radio stations from the USA to Berlin.


With a sound, attitude, and point of view previously likened by reviewers and critics to Pavement, The Clash, Hüsker Dü, Ted Leo and The Replacements, Oui Camera Oui, features all of the band's musical traits: hooks, sing-a-longs, lush string and keyboard arrangements, well-wrought lyrics, ample melodies, huge drumming and layers of raucous guitars. Mixed by prior States collaborator John Agnello (The Hold Steady, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.), Oui also features special guest vocal performances by Britt Daniel (Spoon) and comedian Eugene Mirman (HBO's Flight of the Conchords).


The Heavenly States produce songs imbued with emotional complexity, driving energy, and plenty of spit and fire. At times earnest and vulnerable, at other times infused with grit and fury, THS songs range from simple SST-inspired grenades to works of layered and symphonic sweep. Some songs recall the folk and cowpunk of THS favorite, the band X, while still others exude the cool remove of acts like Spoon, Steve Malkmus, or Talking Heads. Whatever the tone of a particular song, a commitment to melody always shines through.   

Some Have Said

“A majestic rocker” (Berlin Wall) –Rolling Stone


“As panoramic as the work of such larger-than-life rock storytellers as the Who” –Magnet


“Combining the scruffy shocks of guitar and dyspeptic swagger of pre-grunge rockers like Agitprop and Pavement … the States’ mix of beauty and attack are keenly calibrated”  –AP Mag


“A couple parts Chuck Prophet channeling Keith Richards, a pinch of chiming indie pop and dashes of naively swaggering Jonathan Richman and Eef Barzelay with occasional dollops of stripped down baroque rock, the Heavenly States shimmer out of the rising mist … [and] conjure up drama and whimsy with equal passion and often within the same song” –Amplifier Magazine


“Ted Nesseth sings as if he was ordained to front a rock band from birth” –KQED Arts and Culture


“A fantastic band armed with a huge sound, frighteningly fragile moments and massively poppy tunes” –First Coast News


“Top notch songwriting” –All Music Guide