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Heartless Bastards


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Dayton OH, United States

The Heartless Bastards’ story starts in Dayton, Ohio, where Wennerstrom found the name on a multiple choice video trivia game at a bar.

As a songwriting teenager during a time when Guided by Voices and Brainiac were packing local bars and three of The Breeders were still in town, Wennerstrom used to sneak into clubs to check out the scene. “I would just see those people—my music heroes—hanging out at the bar like everyone else,” she remembers. “I could see myself in them. It gave me inspiration to do my own thing.”

After doing the usual business of playing local shows, the trio set out the following year on a regional tour. One of the first gigs of the trip took them to a bar in Akron, where The Black Keys’ drummer Patrick Carney just happened to be one of only a handful of people in the audience. This chance encounter led Wennerstrom and the Heartless Bastards to Fat Possum Records, with whom they released their debut, Stairs and Elevators, in early 2005.

The band moved on with critical praise in their back pocket, including a four-and-a-half star review from Rolling Stone, which took note that, when Wennerstrom “opens her throat on Stairs and Elevators … she sounds like she’s wailing on the shoulders of giants; her sad and angry vocals channeling all the swagger and spit of a young Robert Plant”

By whatever yardstick you care to measure, it was high time for Erika to get out of Dayton.


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  • Debaser987

    They're baaaack!

    27 Apr 9:51pm Reply
  • elessal

    i'm in love with 'all this time'. for me it's their best album

    24 Jan 10:41pm Reply
  • Loganus0

    Wow this band is so great! One of best discoveries of this year ;)

    12 Dec 2014 Reply
  • heming11

    Ви просто супер!)

    21 Jul 2014 Reply
  • Joetheking

    dat voice though. You can feel it when she sings, talk about soul

    31 Mar 2014 Reply
  • ejmyto

    chill as fck,, lalala

    1 Sep 2013 Reply
  • pedroaalberto

    Mind blowing awesomeness.

    31 Aug 2013 Reply
  • liquidUtopia

    Marathon <333

    23 May 2013 Reply
  • abhinavsays42

    "Her voice is honey to my ears. A female voice of that power, singing the rock, is so rare! Love her. Love them."(2).

    15 May 2013 Reply
  • abhinavsays42

    That voice is not distinctly feminine. But it's one of a kind. Beautifully enigmatic.

    15 May 2013 Reply
  • Debaser987

    In the great Dictionary of Rock'n'Roll, if you looked up "sitting in the pocket" under Rhythm, you would find Dave Colvin on drums and Jesse Ebaugh on bass. Textbook example: Only For You.

    18 Apr 2013 Reply
  • Echos_Myron

    Fartless Bastards!

    3 Feb 2013 Reply
  • tresfoufou

    Her voice is honey to my ears. A female voice of that power, singing the rock, is so rare! Love her. Love them.

    18 Dec 2012 Reply
  • tjd9

    Fast on their way to becoming my new favorite find of 2012 (thanks to npr).

    12 Sep 2012 Reply
  • fr3za

    ♪ нєaятιєѕѕ вasтaяժѕ - onιy ғoя yöu ❥~♫ c:

    6 Sep 2012 Reply
  • LUCE08

    found them on t he radio. can't wait to listen to them

    13 Jun 2012 Reply
  • hildy1877


    27 May 2012 Reply
  • Bizon

    Down in the Canyon is one fuckin' great track!

    16 May 2012 Reply
  • the_red_shoes

    WOW. "thank you NPR" indeed.

    15 Apr 2012 Reply
  • shineslikegold

    what these guys rule where have they been all my life. thank you NPR

    26 Mar 2012 Reply
  • All 164 shouts