Remembering Portland’s Exploding Hearts

“The Exploding Hearts are the biggest “what if” in the history of Portland music.” 

So begins the Willamette Week’s fascinating look back at the ill-fated power-pop-punk band that released one album, ‘Guitar Romantic‘, ten years ago this week. Sadly, on the way home from a series of concerts in San Francisco just fourth months later,  the band’s tour van flipped over on Interstate 5 just north of Eugene. Only one band member and the manager survived.

But for Terry Six, the fact remains that, on that morning 10 years ago, he lost more than a band. He lost three of his closest friends. It still rattles him.

“I don’t think I’ll ever not hurt,” he says. Although he has since moved to Oakland, married and played in other bands like the Nice Boys, the tragedy will always—to some extent—be tiptoed around. “I don’t know what there is to really say to someone like me,” he says. “We’ll never really know how the band could have really, really accomplished what we wanted to do.”

Six is slowly easing his way back into music. There’s excitement in his voice as he describes his plans: the recording equipment he’s been hoarding, his ideas for future releases on his own label, Tuff Break Records, and writing his own music again. A few weeks ago, he called Louie Bankston and played over the phone a song he recently wrote. His occasional bandmate said it sounded just like something off Guitar Romantic. Six hadn’t written a song like that for years.

It can’t actually be the Exploding Hearts, of course. But it’s a start.

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