SXSW Thursday Interview
How do you mend a broken heart? Kick ass.
The Heartless Bastards11pm, IFC Crossroads House at Vice; Fri., 5pm, Radio Day Stage, Austin Convention Center
When a woman finds herself single in her 30s, either because she just got out of a long relationship or just hasn't found the one, she might go through a certain mourning process. There may be multiple pints of Häagen-Dazs or contemplation of a future accompanied by a bevy of cats all named Sweetie.
For Erika Wennerstrom, 34, possessor of Austin's Heartless Bastards, the dissolution of a nine-year partnership provided the impetus for self-discernment that eventually became 2009's The Mountain for Fat Possum Records and now Arrow (Partisan).
"It took a while to readjust and get back to myself," Wennerstrom recalls from a tour bus in North Carolina. "[Arrow] picks up where the last album left off, and it's how I rediscover who I am post-relationship and find a sense of comfort in being on my own."
The new album, produced by fast-becoming-production-legend Jim Eno (also known as the drummer for Spoon), serves up a heaping platter of dirty blues and garage riffs, Wennerstrom shuffling restlessly between the poles of vulnerability and ass-kicking, with tightly controlled melodies that serve as both mirror and counterpoint to the story.
"I tend to write from a personal place," she admits. "I feel like I'm trying to write a song that I would like to listen to."
Arrow also finds the Heartless Bastards morphed into a quartet with the addition of guitarist Mark Nathan, the effect of which has tangible results in the way the band's sound has gelled with this release, which many have deemed the one that will make Heartless Bastards' fortune.
"There's a chemistry between us as people and musicians, and I hope it comes across on this record." – Melanie Haupt