The Lonesome Heroes are ready to fit right in Downunder.
By Christopher Hollow
“Wired” is the only way to describe Rich Russell’s state of mind. The Lonesome Heroes mainstay has just made a mad, thousand-mile, eyes-pinned-to-the-road-drive to get home to Austin, Texas. Bed beckons but, being Austin, there’s a show to see and beer to drink. “I feel I fit Austin way better than I ever did in Brooklyn, where I grew up,” Russell explains. “All everyone does here is swim, play music and go to shows. It’s a slacker musician paradise. And not everyone drives a pickup truck with a dog in the back.”
The band’s latest record, Can’t Stand Still, is full of wry numbers with smart insight and a sense of humour. No surprises that Russell comes across the same. He’s also excited to play Australia for the first time. “Everyone keeps telling us we’ll fit right in,” he says. “We’re actually in awe of going somewhere so far away. I feel like a naive teenager all over again. I also heard that all kangaroos are left-handed, but how do you know if an animal is left-handed anyway?”
You were a band, then a duo and now a band again. What version of Lonesome Heroes can we expect?
We’ve had a rotating cast of characters over the last nine years, maybe thirty people on records and tours. The current lineup, the one that recorded Can’t Stand Still, is the best we’ve ever had. We’ve toured together all over the US for a couple years, we’re road-tested and ready to drive on the other side of the road.
Your breakup with your ex-partner, Landry McMeans, seems to be the inspiration for ‘Shit Happens’.
‘Shit Happens’ is a song we recorded by my friend Christian Lee Hutson. We both went through breakups with our romantic, and musical, partners around the same time, and it seemed to be the perfect breakup song to me. It was also convenient I didn’t have to write a breakup song that was so harsh.
Who have you been told you sound like that you take as a compliment and as an insult?
A few people have told me we sound like Beck if he played country music. My favourite insulting compliment was after a show where we got really experimental and psychedelic in a tiny mountain town. An old redneck said we sounded like Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Pink Floyd, which is not at all what we were going for. But I guess it was a great compliment from him.
What’s the song in the Lonesome Heroes catalogue that you can go-to if a show is going pear-shaped?
[Laughing] I’ve never heard of pear shaped, that must be an Australian saying. I’ll use that in my next song. We play so many shows in random places and diverse crowds – from young urban hipsters to cowboys and hippies in tiny backwater towns, so we have to stay sharp and read the crowd. I have a song called ‘Don’t Play To Lose’ that always gets people dancing. I like singing it when things are going bad because it feels ironic to be singing about how not to give up.
Which artist are you most looking forward to checking out at Dashville?
Actually, the day I got invited to play, I’d been painting a house with some friends to save up money for the next tour. We listened to Bahamas for the first time and I just fell in love with the sound. When I got home I saw Bahamas was headlining. It felt like fate.
Lonesome Heroes play the Dashville Skyline festival on October 3-4.
THE LONESOME HEROES FULL TOUR DATES
Friday September 25 – The Milk Factory Brisbane
Saturday September 26 – Eat Streets Markets Brisbane
Sunday September 27 – Palmwoods Brisbane
Wednesday September 30 – Brunswick Heads Bowlo
Thursday October 1 – The Railway Hotel Byron Bay
Friday October 2 – Bellvue Hotel, Foster
Saturday October 3 – Flow Bar, Old Bar
Sunday October 4 – Dashville Skyline Festival
Monday October 5 – Marrickville Bowling Club
Wednesday October 7 – The Lass O’Fowrie, Newcastle
Thursday October 8 – The Gasoline Pony, Sydney
Friday October 9 – Stag & Hunter, Newcastle
Saturday October 10 – Federal Hotel, Branxton
Sunday October 11 – Shady Pines Saloon, Sydney
Wednesday October 14 – The Phoenix, Canberra
Thursday October 15 – The Retreat, Melbourne
Friday October 16 – Torquay Hotel
Saturday October 17 – Pistol Pete’s, Geelong
Sunday October 18 – Graceland Presents, Melbourne
Tuesday October 20 – Dear Monday, Melbourne
Friday October 23 – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne
Saturday October 24 – The Gem, Melbourne