Austin, Texas-based Heartless Bastards have teamed up with Spaceflight Records to release a digital single, “Revolution,” with a portion of proceeds from all downloads to be donated to the ACLU in support of civil rights. The song will be available July 3 for download via Bandcamp, the site is once again waiving fees to support artists during the Coronavirus pandemic. The track will be available at digital retailers everywhere at a later date.
Lead vocalist, Erika Wennerstrom, explains the new single and says:
“Revolution is about self love. I think if people loved themselves more there wouldn’t be racism, bigotry, and classism. Some people are so worried that there is not enough pie to go around, and that lifting up others limits their own opportunity. There is mass misinformation and manipulation to peddle this narrative. Money, materialism, privileged access to better education are things people constantly measure themselves with. The need to feel better than someone in order to feel good about oneself is an age old insecurity. I think there’s fear there too. So many struggle to get ahead because they’re afraid of getting left behind. The planet really can’t sustain everyone having more. Everything is made to fall apart like cars, and $1100 cell phones. I think humanity needs to learn how to have less, and not play into the commercialism that constantly sends the message we lack things that we don’t really need.
Revolution is a mantra, and reminder to myself to avoid playing the game as much as I can. I don’t need this, and I don’t need that. I don’t need to compare myself to others.This marathon everybody is running is exhausting. There is so much true suffering in this world with a lack of food, shelter, and basic running water, and if you suffer depression and anxiety remind yourself of that, and try to possibly be of service to someone in need, and not even necessarily with writing a check, but with even something as simple as kind energy, and compassion. True connection. The more man attempts to look at the world from another man’s perspective it becomes apparent how connected we all really are. Dave Chapelle said at a show years ago “Poverty is a state of mind.” That really stuck with me. I was in the Amazon several years ago, and it struck me how little people had materially, and children were running around and they all seemed so happy. Aside from the basic necessities of sustaining our lives I think giving and receiving love is really what we need the most. All the rest is just a bunch of noise.”
Taking the name “Heartless Bastards” from an incorrect answer on a multiple-choice trivia game (the question: what is the name of Tom Petty’s backing band), Wennerstrom founded the band in 2003 in Cincinnati. It started as a recording project and evolved into a live band with a revolving cast of musicians, and they began playing regularly throughout the Midwest. When Patrick Carney of the Black Keys saw the band, he liked what he heard and passed along a copy of their demo to his label at the time, Fat Possum Records. Heartless Bastards signed with Fat Possum, releasing their first 3 albums, Stairs and Elevators (2005), All this Time (2006), and The Mountain (2009).
In 2007 Wennerstrom relocated to Austin, TX, and recorded The Mountain. A new touring lineup formed including David Colvin on drums and Jesse Ebaugh on bass, bringing the project in full circle as both Colvin and Ebaugh had played on the original Heartless Bastards demos 6 years earlier. Mark Nathan joined on guitar in 2009, and the band became a 4-piece. They signed to Partisan records and released 2 critically acclaimed records, Arrow (2012) and Restless Ones (2015).
After more than a decade fronting the band, Wennerstrom released the album Sweet Unknown under her own given name in 2018. “It was a deeply personal album and it just felt fitting to use my name. It kind of forced me to allow myself to be a little more exposed, and stand on my own two feet. I feel like I’ve grown so much creatively and personally through this process.”
Now some good news for fans of Heartless Bastards — which has released five critically- acclaimed albums since their 2003 inception, appeared on many late night television shows, and has drawn praise from Rolling Stone, Time, New York Times — in early 2020, Wennerstrom returned to the studio with producer Kevin Ratterman (Strand of Oaks, Jim James, White Reaper), and a new album is in the works.
Fans can also rest assured that what they’ve grown to love about Heartless Bastards is still front-and-center. Wennerstrom’s trademark vocals that NPR so aptly calls “warm yet gritty, throaty yet sweet, gigantic, yet intimate” are that… times 10. And the bluesy, rock vibes that Relix describes as “smoky, late night [rock] that exists somewhere between Royal Trux and the Rolling Stones” has only gotten smokier and bluesier.