Lord Huron’s Ben Schneider on the confluence of fact and fantasyBy Reverb Staff | July 15th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
This story is part of a number of 2013 Underground Music Showcase features of notable and headlining acts. See more features here, and be sure to follow Reverb’s coverage ahead of and during the showcase on social media using #UMS2013.
By Matt Phillips
Here is a tall tale:
Sounds absurd, but like all folklore there is some truth to this tale. It was years ago, and Schneider was really in Joshua Tree, Calif. After sleeping the night through, that bouldered, lunar landscape appeared otherworldly.
“We drove in at night. You can’t see much out there at night, just slept out there in the open,” Schneider said. “I just remember waking up and feeling like I was on the moon.”
It’s easy to imagine dust rising around Lord Huron in that far-off desert town as Schneider’s throwback Americana lyrics dance across the air like tiny tumbleweeds.
The band’s first full-length album, “Lonesome Dreams,” released under the independent label IAMSOUND Records last October, evokes an atmospheric tension — an ‘am I really here’ existential quandary. The folk and rock songs are eerily familiar. But they’re different enough to offer a sweet dose of déjà vu.
Lord Huron, who plays at 8 p.m. Sunday, July 21 at the UMS’ Main Stage at Goodwill, has a penchant for folklore. Schneider based “Lonesome Dreams” and all its songs on a fake writer’s catalog of fake pulp adventure stories, but all that is based on real-life experience.
“For me what’s interesting is to create that stuff not necessarily out of thin air, but out of things that I’ve experienced or things that people around me have experienced,” said Schneider. “I start from a personal place and then just kind of look at it through this lens of mythology or folklore.”
Schneider’s made-up pulp adventure writer, George Ranger Johnson, is a tragic figure. He gives Schneider another set of eyes with which to examine his own songs.
“I just imagine him as sort of an underappreciated writer who really kind of believes in what he’s doing but hasn’t necessarily received the accolades or anything,” said Schneider. “But that’s OK with him. He’s kind of happy to keep writing and do his thing.”
Schneider’s fantasy transformed into music is just another vessel for those little truths most of us like to ignore: Death’s permanence. Failure’s prevalence. Heartache’s insistence.
“I’m just a man, but I know that I’m damned,” Schneider sings on “Ghost on the Shore,” the album’s fourth track.
Lord Huron was originally a solo project for the Michigan native Schneider, but after releasing his first EP, “Into the Sun,” Schneider recruited some childhood friends — percussionist Mark Barry and guitarist Tom Renaud — to form a live band. They added another Michigan native, bassist Miguel Briseno and started playing shows in 2010.
“Lonesome Dreams” is a textured listen. The album is full with layered harmonies and drums. Schneider said the band’s live performances are more stripped down, but that variation is intended.
“It’s different than the record, but it’s definitely a cool experience,” he said.
While Lord Huron is writing songs and making demos when it can, a new album isn’t planned for at least 18 months. The band is on a steady march toward stardom, but Schneider isn’t quite ready to embrace that possibility.
“It’s hard to really know where you stand at any given moment because it’s moving so fast,” Schneider said. “All we want to do is have as many people listen to our music as possible.”
The band played a sold out show at Bluebird Theater in March and the performance at the 2013 Underground Music Showcase will draw huge crowds too.
Matt Phillips is The Denver Post’s features intern and a new contributor to Reverb.