Interview with Erika Wennerstrom from The Heartless Bastards – Performing at Bunbury Music Festival on 7/11

Erika Wennerstrom from The Heartless Bastards
Erika Wennerstrom from The Heartless Bastards

Interview & Photos by Scott Preston

Heartless Bastards
Bunbury Music Festival 7/11/-7/13/14
Cincinnati, OH
Heartless Bastards perform on 7/11 at 9:15pm

The Heartless Bastards are making a return trip to Cincinnati to perform at the Bunbury Music Festival on July 11, 2014 at Sawyer Point.  The band is getting ready to play a number of shows this month, with Cincinnati being the first stop.  A brand new Heartless Bastards record is also in the works, with recording to start next month and a likely release date next January or February.

Cincy Groove: Tell me about the new Heartless Bastards record you are working on.

Erika Wennerstrom: We plan on going into the studio in August and mixing dates will probably be in September.  It will probably be released sometime early next year.  We are doing the main tracking of the record at a place in El Paso called Sonic Ranch, its out on a pecan farm.  The overdubs will be done here in Austin.  The producer John Congleton lives up in Dallas, so the mixing will probably be done there.

Erika Wennerstrom from The Heartless Bastards
Erika Wennerstrom from The Heartless Bastards

Cincy Groove: What can you tell me about the songs for the new record?

Erika Wennerstrom: Some of the songs are still a work in progress at the moment.  I am still missing lyrics for some songs because I write the melody first.  The band is working on different arrangements.  We are for the most part in the pre-production stage.

Cincy Groove: What kind of environment do you like to be in to write?

Erika Wennerstrom: Every song for me starts with the melody.  I generally like to figure out the feeling or vibe of the song and then I will bring it into the band.  Sometimes I will only have a verse and chorus and will just start playing around with it.  I have been trying to write at home more often but sometimes I just need to get out of the house.  I almost feel like i need to get out in the world and experience something new to be inspired.

Cincy Groove: I know this happened a while back , but how did you end up writing a score for the movie “Winter in the Blood”?

Erika Wennerstrom: The filmmakers are twin brothers, The Smith Brothers.  One of them, Alex Smith lives here in Austin and the other lives in Missoula, Montana. We have some mutual friends and the brothers are also fans of the band.  One day they were having a conversation about what they were listening to.  Consequently, they were both listening to The Heartless Bastards.  One was listening to All This Time and the other was listening to The Mountain.  I ran into Alex at a festival here in Texas and he started talking to me about the film and ideas they had.  Everything just kind of developed from there.

Cincy Groove: Who have you played with that you were really impressed by?

Erika Wennerstrom: When we did a tour with Lucinda Williams she would invite me up to do the song Joy and recently she was in Austin and joined her on stage for “Get Right With God”.  I  met Ann Wilson from Heart about a month or two ago and also have talked with Emmylou Harris.

Erika Wennerstrom from The Heartless Bastards
Erika Wennerstrom from The Heartless Bastards

Cincy Groove: Is there anywhere you have to go when you come back to Cincinnati?

Erika Wennerstrom: I will maybe stop in at The Northside Tavern for a beer.  I also like the restaurant Melt, just a few doors down.  Camp Washington Chili is my favorite out of all the chili places in town.  

Cincy Groove: Can you think of a few experiences that might have helped to push the band a little further into the spotlight?

Erika Wennerstrom: I think its really been a combination of a lot of things.  A few that come to mid are the ACL Festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco, being on Letterman.

Cincy Groove: What advice would you give to a young band?

Erika Wennerstrom: Don’t get discouraged if things don’t happen right away.  When something good happens, don’t rest on it.  Keep moving forward.  Most bands tour for quite a while before they really make it so to speak. It doesn’t happen overnight.


Heartless Bastards
Heartless Bastards