The Heartless Bastards play stripped, down, straight up unadorned rock and roll. Not rock and roll like AC/DC but rock’n’roll with more grit than glitz, stripped down, straight up powerhouse, heartland Americana garage rock. (see also Drive By Truckers). Their story starts in Dayton, Ohio, where lead singer Erika Wennerstrom found the name on a multiple choice video trivia game at a bar. A chance meeting with Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney led them to Fat Possum Records in 2005 and from there, their career hit the fast track. A four and a half star review from Rolling Stone which took note that, when Wennerstrom “opens her throat….she sounds like she’s wailing on the shoulders of giants; her sad and angry vocals channeling all the swagger and spit of a young Robert Plant” tours opening for Wilco and Lucinda Williams, festival dates followed, songs appeared often on TV shows & in films, all the benchmarks of big success. Though in Wennerstrom’s mind her sound and band were still evolving, and she knew it was time for a change.
In true ascetic discipline, she moved to Austin, Texas in 2007 for a change of inspirational scenery and a new recording project. With the help of producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Trail of Dead), she assembled a group of musicians with whom she gave the songs life and uncovered yet another layer of herself and the Heartless Bastards. The two Bastards weren’t Texas ringers, but fellow Dayton brethren Dave Colvin on drums, and Jesse Ebaugh on bass, who actually played on the original demo that hooked Fat Possum. The band has been on a nice trajectory since, adding fourth member guitarist Marc Nathan who nicely rounds out their multi-dimensional, colorfully dynamic brand of rock’n’roll.