Bound for Peru — and untold adventures in the rainforest — Heartless Bastards’ frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom doesn’t have to explain why her blues-fueled rock ‘n’ roll band’s new album is titled Restless Ones.
She lives it.
“In a sense we’re all restless,” said Wennerstrom, while waiting for her plane to board. “I mean, who wants to be totally content? To some extent it’s like you’re constantly creating new goals or things you want to accomplish or achieve — even in your personal life. There’s this sense of wanting to always move forward.”
After growing up on early influences like Joan Jett and Chrissie Hynde, and doing time tending bar in her native Ohio, Wennerstrom formed Heartless Bastards in 2003. Soon after, fellow Ohioan Patrick Carney of The Black Keys caught one of the band’s sets and passed their demo on to Fat Possum Records, who released the band’s first three albums: 2005’s Stairs and Elevators, 2006’s All This Time, and 2009’s The Mountain.
|WYCE Live presents: Heartless Bastards
wsg Craig Finn (of The Hold Steady)
Wealthy Theatre, Grand Rapids
June 22, 7 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show
$24 public, $20 CMC member (day of show)
The latter came after Wennerstrom parted ways with former boyfriend and longtime bassist Mike Lamping. She relocated to Austin where she reunited with drummer Dave Colvin and bassist Jesse Ebaugh, who had played on the band’s earliest demos. The band has since solidified with the addition of soundman-turned-guitarist Mark Nathan and bonded through relentless touring in support of their last album, 2012’s Arrow.
Last summer the band ventured to El Paso and recorded Restless Ones. At the board was Grammy Award-winning producer John Congleton. The LP, due out June 16 via Partisan Records, was produced at Sonic Ranch, a massive studio space located on a sprawling pecan farm bordering Mexico.
“They had some bikes and I would bicycle to the Rio Grande,” Wennerstrom said. “I think the process of all living in the same place — (while) it could be frustrating at times — added this sort of ‘in the moment’ creative energy.”
Restless Ones conversely centers itself on a philosophy Wennerstrom found in the book The Journey is the Destination by late photojournalist Dan Eldon.
“Part of the album was me growing a sense of really stopping to smell the roses and appreciate where I’m at in my life,” she said. “Sort of learning how to not look too far ahead and try to be present and in the moment.”