Photo credit: Linda Beecroft
There’s something somewhat frightening, yet utterly liberating when leaving the confines of a successful band to venture solo – especially a band whose latest record was called “effortlessly brilliant” by critics. But, such is the case with Erika Wennerstrom who is taking a break from her Austin-based rock band, Heartless Bastards, to deliver her solo debut Sweet Unknown (coming out 3/23 via Partisan Records).
On going solo, Erika reveals “it was a really freeing experience. I found my strength in my vulnerability as an artist, and really, just as a person. It kind of forced me to allow myself to be a little more exposed and stand on my own two feet.”
But fans of Heartless Bastards – which has released five critically- acclaimed albums since their 2003 inception, appeared on many late night television shows, and has drawn praise from Rolling Stone, Time, New York Times – need not worry. The band has not broken up!
Fans can also rest assured that what they’ve grown to love about Wennerstrom’s music is still front-and-center. Her trademark vocals that NPR so aptly calls “warm yet gritty, throaty yet sweet, gigantic, yet intimate” are that… times 10. And the bluesy, rock vibes that Relix describes as “smoky, late night [rock] that exists somewhere between Royal Trux and the Rolling Stones” has only gotten smokier and bluesier.
So, what is the difference? “It’s just more of me,” she says. “It’s as simple as that. I was able to get deeper and you get another level of my heart and soul. And, it’s really about my journey of self-awareness and healing and finding acceptance and self-love. It’s very empowering.”
Wennerstrom attributes her deep emotional journey, in part, to two pivotal trips in the past year, which resulted in 400 voice notes on her phone with various lyric and melody ideas. “I went down to the Amazon jungle in 2015 right before the last Heartless Bastards record, Restless Ones, was released. I was at a point where I was deeply unhappy, and on a whim, I decided to do an Ayahuasca [pronounced eye-uh-wah-ska] retreat. Despite the idea frightening me, I felt I needed something to change with in me so bad that I had nothing to lose. It really opened the door and started me on a path to many self realizations,” she says.
Ayahuasca (an Amazonian hallucinagenic plant used in Shamanic healing ceremonies) is often used to help people break through emotional and creative barriers. For Wennerstrom, the experience helped her let go of the push-and-pull of ego and self-doubt. The upbeat and optimistic “Letting Go” epitomizes that experience.
With Sweet Unknown, Erika Wennerstrom bravely invites the listener in to experience her trials and tribulations of life amidst a lush soundscape of deeply emotive vocals and melodies to what is ultimately the soundtrack to her soul.
SWEET UNKNOWN PRE-ORDER + PLEDGE MUSIC CAMPAIGN
Sweet Unknown is now available for pre-order via all leading Digital Service Providers and comes with an instant download of the album’s first single, “Extraordinary Love.” The physical pre-order includes a limited edition version pressed on double white vinyl. Erika is also making the album available for pre-order via Pledge Music. This option allows fans to pre-order the album as well as purchase exclusive merchandise (including signed test pressings) and unique opportunities to experience the album (acoustic house concerts, hikes w/ Erika, etc):
2018 TOUR DATES
** = supporting Drive-By Truckers
Mar 7 – New York, NY – The Music of Led Zeppelin at Carnegie Hall
Mar 23 – Macon, GA – Cox Capitol Theatre**
Mar 24 – Wilmington, NC – Greenfield Lake Amphitheater**
Mar 25 – Norfolk, VA – The NorVA**
Mar 26 – Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater**
Mar 28 – Wilmington, DE – The Queen**
Mar 29 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl**
Mar 30 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl**
Mar 31 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer**
April 2 – State College, PA – The State Theatre**
April 3 – Toronto, ONT – The Mod Club**
April 4 – Toronto, ONT – The Mod Club**
April 6 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall**
April 7 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall**