Interview with Erika from The Heartless Bastards

Me: For this album you guys got a new guitar player?

Erika: The whole band is new to the albums. I had a different band on the first two albums, and I was in a relationship with one of the band members. We were together nine years though so it wasn’t some kind of band playing. When we split up I moved to Austin to just kind of start over because we had all the same friends so it was kind of hard to be in the same city so I moved to Austin. When I recorded “The Mountain,” I didn’t have a band yet so I had to snatch some musicians on that album. I ran into Dave when I finished recording “The Mountain.” I had been in band years ago with Dave back in Dayton, Ohio. He played drums so he came to the band. He happened to be finishing up school at UT so it was good timing. Then called up Jackie who lived in the Cincinnati area and asked if he would consider moving down to Austin to join the band, I’ve always thought he was a really great bass player and a really good positive personality. Sometimes it’s nice to work with people you already know because when you are on the road you are in a van it’s hard sometimes and it’s easy for drama to happen. Having people that I have known for a long time I figured it was less likely and so far so good. We all get along nicely.

Mark joined, before “The Mountain,” was released, we did a tour as a three piece and he did sound on that tour. He is a professional sound engineer and we got along really well and heard he was a great guitarist so then we asked if he was interested, it’s now three years later.

This is the first album they are all one. Dave and Jesse were in a demo I did back in 2002 when I lived in Ohio. This is the first full length that the three of the other guys are on as a band.

Me: You worked with “Spoon’s” Producer Mike McCarthy. How was it like working with Jim Eno (From the band Spoon)?

Erika: I like his work with Spoon and also with a band called,” …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead,” and did an album called “Source Tags and Codes.” I have always loved how it was recorded and the sounds of it. Mike McCarthy heard of us through his sister because she is from Cincinnati. That is kind of how I got to working with him, and he coincidentally lived in Austin, when I moved there so it made sense.  Over the years we have gotten to know him through various friends and we would run into each other on different occasions. He has an amazing studio in Austin called ‘Public Hi-Fi,’ and worked with bands like Black Joe Lewis. He showed some interest in the band and actually came to some of our rehearsals.  The greatest thing was that he asked us what we wanted to sound like and wanted some samples and recording techniques as albums as references. I think with him being in a band previously we worked together with a team and liked the direction we were headed.

Me: Where you looking for a specific sound in this album?

Erika: It’s not an overall sound for the album. Some inspirations for “Parted Ways,” were like Thin Lizzy’s cover of “Whiskey in the Jar.” It is kind of like rock and sound but it has an acoustic guitar. “Got to Have Rock and Roll,” was inspired by T-Rex so we put the drums in an enclosed vocal booth for that tight sound. It was just kind of, “how do we approach each song rather than the album.” If you take each song individually, each gives its own identity.

Me: Well the tracks in the album were all over the place and not placed in any specific order.

Erika: Yeah, totally. Even mixing the acoustic guitar it’s a bit more melodic in “Parted Ways.” In “Got to Have Rock and Roll,” the percussive elements of the guitar are heard more.

Me: You guys did a taping of ACL 2009, are you doing festivals this year?

Erika: Yeah, I am not certain which ones have been announced but we have one called, “Hangout.” Then we are doing “Summer Fest,” in Milwaukee, and another one called, “Soundtown.” Just a number of them, but the one I like the most is, “Pickathon,” which is one in Portland. It’s very intimate with a max of 5000 ticket capacity. All the acts play at least two sets so it’s a show in a barn and then one outdoor.

Me: What bands are you looking forward to seeing anytime soon?

Erika: Probably Dr. Dog, we played with them two or three years ago. Jesus and Mary chain have reunited and they are playing SXSW. I hope I get to see them; we are playing eleven times there so we will see.  I have never seen them, I caught part of them and I was sixteen at Lollapalooza. It was so long ago.

Me: Well thank you so much for your time.

Erika: Not a problem man. It was cool talking to you.

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