Monday, July 06, 2009

Heartless Bastards interview

I recently had a chance to ask Heartless Bastards leader Erika Wennerstrom a few important questions. Her band plays tonight at 8 p.m., before Jenny Lewis, at Headliners.

You're from Cincinnati, originally, but recently moved to Austin. You know that Louisville's an even better city, right? Why Austin and not Louisville? And please praise Louisville and/or insult Cincinnati in your response!


Your band has gone through a complete overhaul, and you are the last original member left. Did you consider going out under your own name, or did you think that Wennerstrom sounded too much like a totally awesome metal band?

Ha! again. I don't think Wennerstrom works well as a name. I like having a band name. Even though members have changed, I've always written the songs. This has always been my project, so there's no need to change the name if a member has left.

Can you settle this downloading business once and for all? Is it stealing, or does it help you?

I guess it's a little of both. People always say record companies are evil, which I guess they can be in some ways, but a lot of the bands you hear of are because the record company paid a publicist to get bands in magazines and papers, and they paid a radio person to get you heard on the radio. They also probably paid for the recording of the artist you've been listening to, also. If record companies fall, then it's going to be so much harder for the artist to get their music out to people. The average artist can't pay for things like publicists themselves. The internet helps, but everything is so saturated that there can be too much bad music to sift through to find good stuff.

Your band exists in what some call the "indie" world, because your records aren't distributed by one of the 4 major labels left. Do you find this limiting or misleading?

Right now I think bands are better off on an indie label, personally.

Jenny Lewis is a li'l bit country and a li'l bit indie rock. Are you worried that your raw power might blow her away every night?

Jenny Lewis is a great songwriter and performer. She's a powerhouse in her own right. We are different, but have a lot of similarities, too. I think both her fans and our fans are perfectly capable of liking more than one kind of sound.

NPR said that your "sprawling voice... echoes the influence of Neil Young, Otis Redding and MC5." How is it possible to sound like all of those at once?

Well, I try to sound like those 3, and about 100 other artists as well, so I think I end up finding my own voice in the process of mimicking them all.

Are you looking forward to the upcoming movie about the Runaways, in which the girl from Twilight plays Joan Jett?

Well, this question is the first time I've even heard there was a movie about that. I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to it or not. It depends on how well it's done. There are so many good ideas executed in horrible ways.

You're playing here on a Monday night. That sounds like it's probably not as fun for you as a Friday or Saturday. Am I wrong?

Well, I'm in a venue every night. It's all the same day to me. I don't think there is a no fun Monday rule or anything.

c. 2009 Velocity Weekly

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