New record far from heartless

'Arrow' puts Erika Wennerstrom and band back out on road

Attention, youth of Austin, Texas (ignore, for a moment, the obvious): The Beat knows where you can make a quick $15.
Just mow Erika Wennerstrom’s lawn.
“Sorry, my neighbor is asking me about how much it cost to have my yard mowed,” Wennerstrom, singer/songwriter/guitarist with the Heartless Bastards, told The Beat during a recent phone interview. “The kids in this part of Austin like to come around and ask if they can mow.”
It might be a good plan for Wennerstrom to get in on some sort of rotation, seeing as she is embarking on a lengthy tour in support of her band’s brand-new release, Arrow.
“I’m bracing myself for a pretty hectic schedule,” she said. “I’m not really nervous (about the new record coming out) but we’re going to be busy. We’re going to be doing a lot of in-stores and radio spots in addition to the gigs — and that’s great. If you enjoy what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work.
“You just have to make sure you get enough sleep.”
Arrow, the Heartless Bastards’ fourth release, is another Wennerstrom tour de force — an earthy, quirky collection of garage-y rock n’ roll.
“I’m proud of this album, but nothing is everybody’s cup of tea,” she said. “I always think I write the best thing at that time.”
Writing is something Wennerstrom is continually sorting out. She explained that she believes in moments of inspiration but she then allows those moments to percolate.
“All the songs start with a melody in my head, and I figure if they’re any good, I won’t forget them,” she said with a laugh. “I carry them around for a while and if I’m at Target or the grocery and I go, ‘There’s that song again!’ — Well, the strong ones stay.”
Wennerstrom admitted to combining perspiration with inspiration.
“Words are a real challenge,” she said. “It’s difficult to focus, to figure out how I’m going to say what I want to say. I want to say that I wear my heart on my sleeve, but it’s difficult to feel comfortable doing that.”
Sonically, Arrow is a breakthrough, Wennerstrom said.
“I feel like this is the closest a record has gotten to where I was trying to go,” she explained. “It’s a learning process and maybe I’m finally figuring it out.”
She said playing the songs live before making the record — at the suggestion of producer Jim Eno, Heartless Bastards played entire opening sets of unreleased material — helped improve the sound.
“You play songs every night for a couple months, they’re going to get tighter,” she said. “All the takes (on the record) are like live tracks.”

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