If you were to lasso the simple, heartfelt punk of Patti Smith, mash it together with droning guitars and send it down the Mississippi river to be peppered with soul, you might end up with Heartless Bastards. The band formed in the mid-aughts in Dayton, Ohio—hometown of Guided By Voices, The Breeders and Brainiac. Heartless Bastards is led by Erika Wennerstrom and distinguished by her voice's deep, velvety, slightly ramshackle qualities. Wennerstrom, who now makes her home in Austin, says she learned to sing by trying to emulate her idols and out popped her own voice.
"Truthfully, I don't even listen to music that much," Wennerstrom laughs over the phone while en route to a venue. She says she enjoys listening to music with other people and seeing it performed live, but that she doesn't take it in when she’s alone.
"I spend a lot of time kind of working on my own. I sort of wait for music to enter into my head, and I feel like if I was listening to it on my own it would block that from happening sometimes. But I hear it enough, I get inspired by things all the time."
While it's easy to locate distinct styles within Heartless Bastards songs, describing the band with blanket terms like garage or indie wouldn't do it justice. The concoction is sourced from disparate places, forming a sound and feel that’s intriguing and uncommon, yet somehow pleasantly familiar.