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Heartless Bastards, the rock outfit from Austin, Texas, stopped by WERS this week for a great live set. Songwriter and singer Erika Wennerstrom, guitarist Mark Nathan, bassist Jesse Ebaugh, and drummer Dave Colvin (not present in studio) form the Basterds, who are currently promoting their latest album Arrow with an extensive national tour, rocking hard on The Late Show with David Letterman the night before their intimate acoustic set in the WERS studios.
Arrow is the band’s fourth album, one they explain as a simpler, more direct album than their previous release The Mountain. When discussing the recording process of Arrow, Erika and Jesse stress the no-frills approach, “It was mostly done live with very few overdubs. The vocals were done later though and the harmonies bleed into everything. And as far as extra parts or overdubs, we shied away from those. Marc’s crazy guitar firework stuff for the song “Simple Feeling” was done in one live take.” Jim Eno, who plays drums in the Austin-based indie band Spoon, was on hand to produce the album.
For their first performance, the band delivered “Parted Ways”, a warm breakup song with an aching guitar hook. Erika’s smoky, soulful voice complimented her fiery lyrics. The second song, “Got To Have Rock and Roll”, was a fun mid-tempo jam, organized around a swaggering riff reminiscent of T. Rex. Erika admitted that the glam rocker was a major influence on the album, along with other classic rock acts like Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young, all of whom are celebrated in the song, a simple love letter to rock and roll. “Skin and Bone” closed out the set with a sweet folk crunch.
With their newly televised press, Heartless Bastards seem to have an even brighter future ahead of them. The group is embarking on a tour of over forty cities that will last through May.