The idea of marrying different musical styles and crossing over from one genre to the next seems obsolete at this point. Nearly every artist out there – even those married to a genre – borrow inspiration from sources outside their comfort zone.
Heartless Bastards is actually a band that’s hard to pin down. It’s not so much genre-splicing that’s happening on its new album, “Reckless Ones.” It’s songwriter and vocalist Erika Wennerstrom’s unwillingness to be boxed in so much, so her band will unleash a howling rocker then move to folkier territory on the next. There’s an undercurrent of that broad umbrella called Americana and the cohesion of Wennerstrom’s voice and writing, but labeling Heartless Bastards’ sound in no uncertain terms is fairly impossible.
“That’s part of what I enjoy about music is trying different inspirations. So on each album there’s going to be a song that’ll fit in an alt-country realm or another that’s a bit psychedelic or heavy rock. Blues meets metal. Blues metal. Like old Zeppelin-inspired stuff. Not really like Megadeth,” says Wennerstrom, who grew up in the surprise ’90s music mecca of Dayton, Ohio, before moving to Austin, Texas, nine years ago. “I was worried the songs on ‘Restless Ones’ would be too diverse.”
Heartless Bastards will perform its first Charlotte headlining show in its 13-year history Tuesday at Neighborhood Theatre (it once opened for Wolf Mother at the Fillmore).
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The mention of Megadeth leads Wennerstrom to consider her own definition of success.
“It’s kind of funny, as a creative how do you define success? Where you feel you’ve reached a point you can be happy with? I think with the writing of ‘Restless Ones’ I had to remind myself and be really grateful and proud of where I’ve already gone. With each album I find it challenging to go someplace new,” she explains. “As much as I’m writing something I like, trying to please myself in that process, it gets harder to put it out in the world. I will always think of Dave Mustaine as the whiny guy because he didn’t get as big as Metallica even though he sold millions .... It’s funny that someone could see themselves as some kind of disappointment.”
On “Restless Ones” – the band’s fifth album in 10 years – Wennerstrom tried to open herself up more and stop analyzing and editing.
“I think I’ve gotten to the point in the process and in my life, I need to let those emotions out and not think about every word,” she explains. “I feel like I care too much. In writing this album there were moments where we needed to finish it, and I would just finish some lyrics and record them right away and then they’d be mixed. It made me feel pretty vulnerable to not sit around analyzing my thoughts, but there was a sense of freedom in letting go and moving on. I need to do that a bit more and not second-guess myself and go with my initial instincts. Right now I’m inspired to let it all out.”
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Where: Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St.
Details: 704-942-7997; www.neighborhoodtheatre.com.