One of the things they'd probably teach in Rock Enthusiast 101, if there were such a class, is to not get too hung up on a band name. For example, one might hear the band name Heartless Bastards and assume it's a group of guys that play country-influenced rock. The word "bastard" is defined as "a child born out of wedlock" or as slang for "a person, especially one who is held to be mean or disagreeable." For some reason I assume a "bastard" is a male, although there is no gender necessarily associated with the term. This differs from "bitch," which I consider to be a sister word of sorts to "bastard." The former is commonly used to describe a "female dog" or a "spiteful, overbearing or lewd woman," but it can also be used as a derogatory term for a "weak or contemptible male."
The point of all this is for you to set your preconceived notions about a band's name aside. Although the Heartless Bastards include three men, their singer, primary songwriter and guitarist is a woman. Her name of Erika Wennerstrom and you can check her out for yourself in this fine exclusive performance of "Hold Your Head High," a track featured on the Bastards' recently released new album, The Mountain. Watch the video clip and download the free MP3 below.
I can't say if Wennerstrom was born out of wedlock, nor do I think it matters, but I do know that a single mother raised her and her brother in Dayton, Ohio. As for the name of the band, legend has it that Wennerstrom stumbled upon it while playing a Mega Touch trivia quiz game at a local watering hole. A question popped on screen asking the name of Tom Petty's backing band. One option was "the Heartless Bastards," which Wennerstrom found amusing and adopted when she formed the band with drummer Dave Colvin, bassist Adam McAllister, and guitarist Michael Weinel.
Since then, the Bastards have gone through a few lineup changes and relocated to Austin, Texas. The constant over the years has been Wennerstrom, who was recently rejoined by drummer Colvin, and bassist Jesse Ebaugh, who played on the original five-song demo that helped land the band a deal with Fat Possum. That was the Bastards' newest recruit, Mark Nathan, who added that brilliant fuzzy guitar solo toward the tale end of "Hold Your Head High" on that little amp clipped to his belt. Other than Wennerstrom, Nathan is the only other member of the foursome that actually played on The Mountain.
Details like that don't matter much when you see a combo like this that can not only bring it live at your local venue, but can play live while strolling the alleys and bridges near and over the canals in beautiful Venice, California. With the proximity to the ocean, it only made sense that the Bastards serenaded the Y! Music cameras with "Out At Sea," yet another fine track from The Mountain. Enjoy the video clip and the free exclusive MP3 of the performance below.
Judging by those performances alone, I'm guessing that the members of this band are neither heartless, nor bastards. But you can decide for yourself after watching this exclusive interview. Let me know what you think.