Heartless Bastards is currently taking a break from touring in anticipation of their energetic upcoming album Arrow, due Feb. 14. But they’re making a special jaunt back to SLC, where they have constantly sold-out shows of late.
City Weekly: Thanks for taking a second to respond. We are excited that you and the fellow Heartless Bastards will be dropping in on our fair city to gig on NYE. Is it bittersweet to play a NYE show on the road, or is it just as much of a celebration for you guys as anything else would be?
Erika Wennerstrom : I couldn't think of a better way to bring in a new year than to be doing what I love to do.
CW: Do you have any particularly memorable NYEs -- playing or otherwise?
EW: We flew in to play Austin back when we still lived in Ohio. It was after our second album was released. We didn't know they wanted two sets. We only had 2 albums so we ran out of songs, and played a lot of songs twice. Everybody was really toasty, and didn't seem to notice or mind.
CW: Thoughts: Champagne or whiskey toast at midnight?
EW: I love the bubbles. Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, or anything along those lines. I love whiskey, too!
CW: Are you guys sticking around town after, since you don’t have to drive to California or Denver as is the norm? If so, any plans?
EW: We will be heading home on New Year's Day. None of our families live in Austin so we will have been away from our present homes for quite a while. I'm happy to be returning home for the brief time period we have before we start touring pretty heavy in February. There's nothing like sleeping in your own bed.
CW: What are your thoughts on New Year's resolutions?
EW: I like the idea of resolutions. I have a song called "New Resolution" on my first album. It's not specifically related to New Year's, though. It's not like if you want to quit smoking on New Year's and you end up smoking on the 3rd that you should wait another year. I think it's best not to be hard on yourself for whatever it is you have resolved to do, and to just pick yourself back up and try again when your ready no matter what time of year it is.
CW: If you do such a thing, can you oblige us with some of your resolutions for 2012?
EW: I need to listen to more Tom Petty. You can never listen to too much Tom Petty
CW: OK, enough of that tomfoolery. Let’s chat music. How has the transition to Partisan Records gone?
EW: It's been going great. We're working together really well. Both the band and Partisan are very enthused about the upcoming album
CW: I read that Arrow was written while you were traveling. Is the road the best place to write for you? Tell us about that process, of collecting ideas, flushing them out, etc. For me, intuitively, the road seems like a better place to clear my head, but not get much actual work done.
EW: I'm not able to write songs on tour. Tours tend to be way too hectic, and it's hard to find alone time. I took several road trips on my own to try to focus on writing after we were done touring for The Mountain. I didn't get a whole lot done on the trips despite being alone, but it allowed me a lot of time for introspection. It really helped me figure out the direction I wanted to take the songs in. I have melodies in my head all the time, but trying to figure out what I want to say with in those songs is a really big challenge. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, and it's not easy for me to put myself out there. It's very cathartic.
CW: You’ve worked with Jim Eno in Austin on this one. How did he help the band find the phenomenal sound on this album?
EW: I think Jim was really great at figuring out where the band wanted to go with the music. He doesn't try to change your sound. He enhances it. He asked us with each song what some inspirations were for how we wanted to record them, and then he helped us get there. He made some suggestions on arrangements here and there, as well, and most of the time we went with his ideas. I think we made a great team, and I would definitely work with him again.
CW: One last question: How would you describe Arrow, in terms of a creative aesthetic?
EW: The inspirations are all over the place on this album. I was influenced by T Rex, Thin Lizzy, Curtis Mayfield, and even spaghetti western music from Ennio Morricone, to name a few. I think the album still sounds very much like Heartless Bastards. I'd like to think we've grown. Thanks for the interview. Take care