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Friday, October 5, 2012

Lord Huron resurrects old western tales for 'Lonesome Dreams'

Ben Schneider
  • Ben Schneider

Lord Huron makes tropical folk music with a healthy slathering of reverb. The thought of that sounds kind of godawful — until you hear it. When Ben Schneider (aka Lord Huron) starts the opening song "Ends of the Earth" from debut album Lonesome Dreams, you can practically hear the whine of the river about which he sings. And when the song rapidly blooms with expansive Afro-pop percussion, it feels like it's finally time to get out of the city and run wild. Another single from the record, "Time to Run", starts with wind chimes before erupting into a number that will make even the saddest of menfolk and hipsters happy again.

I caught up with Schneider and had a lot of laughs as he divulged the crazy things men do when under the influence of a lady, the purpose behind the made-up author he created, and how the frontier has helped him "lay bare the experience of man."

Lord Huron. With Night Moves. $10. 9p.m. Fri., Oct. 5. Drunken Unicorn, 736 Ponce de Leon Avenue. www.drunkenunicorn.net

I’ve noticed with your songs, you talk about women a lot. Which a lot of people do, but you talk about women in a very intricate way. I noticed on George Ranger Johnson’s website there’s this page that he supposedly wrote, and it says, "I lie on my back blissfully defenseless of her attack." And then in Son of a Gun there’s definitely a woman who wants her revenge when you sing "When she finds him she will make him regret he was ever born." There’s always kind of these powerhouse women in your songs.

Yeah, I think those women pertain to extremes. I think women more than anything can do that to you.

Do what to you?

Push you to extremes. In many ways, rather, to violence or crazy decisions you make when you’re under the influence [laughs]. That’s definitely been my experience, so I like stories like that. It is the most powerful emotion you can feel, and you can be pushed to do pretty crazy things.

What are some of those crazy things that you’ve done?

Well that’s personal now! I let the songs speak.

Well I can relate to that as well.

[Laughs] Yeah, I think it works both ways.

Oh yeah, definitely. Well you know that; you’ve dealt with women.

Yep. [Laughs]

So you’ve created this character, George Ranger Johnson, for the new album, and it’s silly. I actually know a band in Atlanta who created their own publicist with an equally Southern, silly name, but I've been sworn to secrecy to not let the cat out of the bag in regards to this. I really like his middle name in particular though. It really gives it that zesty snap. Why did you create him?

[Laughs] When I first started working on the record, I was trying to make an anthology of old western tales. I thought it’d be interesting to look at it from that lens, so I came up with this fictional author who wrote all those stories. And that’s George Ranger Johnson.

With your songs, there’s always this great sense of land, and definitely a sense of an adventure and a great purpose. For example let’s pinpoint "Ends of the Earth" from the new record. It's expansive.

Nature and being outside has always been really important to me. That definitely influences the songwriting quite a bit, by getting out into the world as much as I can. So I definitely hope that that sense of wonder at the natural world comes through there quite a bit.

What do you do when you go outside?

I like to camp a lot. Living in California you always have access to that stuff.

On the song “Time to Run”, you sing, “I have no regrets”.

I try to have no regrets for sure. You gotta roll with things.

Do you by chance run?

I do actually.

I had a feeling you ran. How far do you run?

I used to do a lot further than I do now. Anywhere between three and five miles.

Earlier in this conversation you mentioned old western tales. What about the frontier turns you on so much?

You know, I’ve always been turned on by it. There’s so much nature in it. But it really lays bare the experience of man also. Whether that’s emotional or physical struggles; it’s a very raw experience. It’s fit for stories to evolve in America still. It’s simple and it’s a great format for a story.

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