Last year, Heartless Bastards announced that they were entering a studio to create their next album. Of course, being a hard-core Heartless Bastards fan, news of this gets me primed for classic Heartless Bastards music.
Today, the announcement that all fans of the band were waiting for is now here. So, here’s your good news:
On June 15 (UK), June 16 (US), Partisan Records will release Restless Ones, the fifth studio album from Erika Wennerstrom and the band. Their last album was 2012’s Arrow. Here’s a little info from Partisan Records’ website on the recording of the new album:
“The sessions were marked by Heartless Bastards’ openness to the unfamiliar, allowing previously untapped influences – from The Byrds and Syd Barrett to the Faces and the Flaming Lips – to take root in their own distinctive blues-powered rock ‘n’ roll. “Wind Up Bird” is given texture and psychedelic lift via a visit from keyboardist John Baggott (Robert Plant’s Sensational Space Shifters, Portishead, Massive Attack), while the album-closing “Tristessa” was born of Wennerstrom’s home experiments with guitar loops but then grown by the band into a deeply devotional drone.
“We started with sketches and ideas of directions,” Ebaugh says, “but allowed the process of discovery to guide the finalization. It allowed us to think about the songs more globally and really flesh them out.”
“There were some happy accidents,” Colvin says. “Things that were completely organic, that could’ve only happened in that moment. Things are still shifting, nothing’s set in stone.”
Where some tracks were built from the ground up, others were completely upended. First recorded for the soundtrack to 2013’s acclaimed Winter In The Blood, “Hi-Line” was broken down and retooled from front porch folk to Fleetwood Mac-inspired country pop unlike anything in Heartless Bastards’ prior canon.
“‘Eastern Wind’ provided a bit of a road map for the record,” she says. “It’s a song of wanderlust. Writing words is always a real challenge for me, so I end up taking off in my car and roaming around by myself looking for inspiration. I think in doing that I’m taking myself out of my comfort zone. I turn my world upside down over and over and start anew.”
Further insight came from such literary touchstones as Haruki Murakami (“Wind Up Bird”), Jack Kerouac (“Tristessa”), and the late photojournalist/artist/activist Dan Eldon, whose Be Here Now philosophy is at the very heart of RESTLESS ONES.
“I love the idea of ‘The Journey Is The Destination,’” she says, referencing Eldon’s most famous work. “Not looking too far ahead and really focusing on the present. I’ve tended to look so forward that I forget to stop and smell the roses. The process of working towards the things you want in your life is more important than the goal itself.”
“As always, Erika’s lyrical honesty informs the behavior of the whole project,” says Ebaugh. “There comes a time in an artist’s trajectory when you realize that your entire life experience is expressed through the work, so you better be able to relax and let the work reflect the experience that is yours.”
RESTLESS ONES was finished in the fall with two mixing sessions at Congleton’s Elmwood Recording in Dallas. Heartless Bastards’ next challenge is bringing the album’s studio-crafted songs to the stage. “It’ll be fun to chuck it all at the wall and let the collective experience of band/audience dictate the conversation of the music,” Ebaugh says. “That’s the mission ultimately: rock ‘n’ roll communion.”
Visit this website for previews of Restless Ones.