The Heartless Bastards Do Not Mean to Antagonize You: Five Things to Know About This Vital Rock Band
Founded in Ohio nearly a decade ago, Heartless Bastards are a bare-bones rock 'n roll band built around the powerful voice and songwriting skills of singer-guitarist Erika Wennerstrom. Though the lineup has changed over the years, their sound remains in a sweet spot: Wennerstrom's gnarled vocals airing striking melodies amid bruising, blues-derived guitar rock. As you might expect of an outfit that's toured with Drive-By Truckers and a guitarist who played with Lucinda Williams, the Bastards' sound bears a decidedly rootsy influence -- especially on their latest album, Arrow.
As the new songs demonstrate, Heartless Bastards are still making rock that feels vital and important -- even if influences like Thin Lizzy, T-Rex, and the Rolling Stones don't have the patina of newness. So, after our recent conversation with Wennerstrom, let us offer five things you should know about the Heartless Bastards before this Thursday, April 5, when they play the Fillmore.
1. They were introduced to their first label by Patrick Carney of the Black Keys -- back when the Black Keys were still, you know, an "indie" band.
Both the Black Keys and the Heartless Bastards were originally based in Ohio. Keys drummer Carney passed the Bastards' demo to his label Fat Possum, which released the Bastards' acclaimed debut album, and which prompted many to compare the sound of the two bands. But about four years ago, Wennerstrom relocated to Austin. "When we see [the Black Keys] it's friendly, but we're never in regular contact with each other to begin with," she says.