88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Heartless Bastards’ Erika Wennerstrom describes the emotional journey of creating her first solo album

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88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Wennerstrom talks about her solo adventure, the emotional side of taking a break from her band, and her unreleased album, Sweet Unknown.

Erika Wennerstrom, vocalist of Heartless Bastards, has decided to venture on a solo journey to deliver her debut album, Sweet Unknown.

Sweet Unknown releases on March 23, 2018.

Justin Barney: Where Am I reaching you at?

Erika Wennerstrom: I’m in Lockhart, Texas. It’s a small town outside of Austin.

Justin Barney: I’m in Milwaukee. We’re playing “Extraordinary Love”, and we extraordinarily love it.

Why do the solo album? Why break away from Heartless Bastards?

Erika Wennerstrom: Well, the band wanted a break. I actually felt this huge weight lifted in a way. With my writing, I didn’t realize I had this pressure to keep everything going and to keep us all working. When they wanted a break, I was like “oh wow, I can do that?”

It was wonderful for me, and all of the sudden within that break, creativity flowed out of me faster than it ever has. I didn’t understand how that internal pressure was inhibiting my flow.

Justin Barney: Why do you think that creativity flowed?

Erika Wennerstrom: I think that change is very good. I think that is can be very easy to go through the motions. I have this card I once saw at a gas station, and I saved it. It said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”, and I would always put that on my desk. I would have that there and see it.

I think this wasn’t a change that I initially brought upon myself, but that change really gets your neurons going. Big changes can be frightening, and who knows where they’ll go, but it makes life exciting and it wakes you up.

I would like to say I was very much in the moment when I played shows and toured. I feel like I was present there, but there was a part of me that was just going through the motions in a way.

Justin Barney: How did you choose your backing band?

Erika Wennerstrom: The actual album I recorded was a studio project. I actually had six guitarists on the record. There were three drummers, I was just picking folks that I’ve seen play a style that was exactly what I was looking for. I was just having fun, and I thought the more the merrier.

Justin Barney: Does it feel different because it’s solo? You’re preforming under your own first and last name, instead of being presented as a whole group.

Erika Wennerstrom: There’s definitely a lot of things that feel different about this. I was actually driving in Austin the other day, my song came on the radio, and for some reason it was weird to hear my name on the radio. In a way, it’s a new start, and that’s exciting. But I’m going to work really hard this year and I feel really good about everything, but it’s also starting over. That’s both exciting and also, well, I hope it goes well.

Justin Barney: So we’re just at the beginning here, the beginning of everything. What are you looking forward to the most?

Erika Wennerstrom: You know, I’m just really so proud of this work. I’m very excited to just get out on the road and play this album live. I’m so excited about my band, and I think people are going to dig it. The whole thing is exciting.