By Lindsey Lowe Osborne
A few years ago, if you mentioned you liked listening to Lord Huron, somebody was bound to call you—dare I say it—the h word (hipster, not hamburger). Their debut album, Lonesome Dreams, appeared on the scene in December of 2012 and it wasn’t long before hipsters and, well, the rest of us tapped into it. Whenever I talk about music, I try to think of some words that capture the essence of whatever I’m describing, and for Lord Huron, no word works better than summer. Their music feels like summer to me—It’s bright and breezy, refreshing and wind-in-your-hair worthy.
Lord Huron is the product of founding member Ben Schneider, who began the project on his own in 2010 (he recorded 2010’s Mighty EP on his own.) Schneider is from Michigan and attended the University of Michigan before finishing his degree in France. After college, he moved to New York and then Los Angeles in 2005. After starting Lord Huron (named after Lake Huron in Michigan, which Schneider grew up visiting), he began playing live shows and inviting friends of his to join. “I’ve dabbled in several creative pursuits throughout my life, but music seems to be the one I keep coming back to,” Schneider says. “It seems to be the medium I can most clearly express ideas through, despite the fact that I don’t think I’m particularly gifted as a player. There’s no better feeling than having a sense that you’ve successfully communicated something through music, that the combination of sounds, words, and visuals you’ve chosen has told a story that couldn’t be told any other way.”
Schneider is currently bolstered by Mark Barry (percussion, vocals); Miguel Briseño (bass, keys, percussion); and Tom Renaud (guitar, vocals). He explains that though the band has certainly taken off and its music been well received, the project is still a hands-on project for him. “We’re still very much a DIY operation, so there are a lot of things that need figuring every day. I like those kinds of challenges, but it can be daunting at times,” he says. “It surprises me most days, which is something I really like about it.”
Something else that surprised him is the strangeness of being a musician. “It’s an interesting way of life, particularly being on tour. The job is so integrated into your life,” he says. “It’s really important for me to make sure I do other things. Get outside, explore the towns we go through, put my focus elsewhere. It’s easy to get lost and absorbed in it all.” Interestingly, I think that his last sentence could easily describe his music—that heart, a sense of being all in—is there for sure (if you haven’t listened yet, you can especially hear this in “Way Out There” on this year’s Strange Trails and “The Stranger” off of Mighty.) They’re on tour right now, sharing Strange Trails with the world, including with us at the Sloss Music & Arts Festival (July 18–19). “Strange Trails developed over a long period of time, and although it’s already finished and out in the world, I feel like it’s still developing,” Schneider says of the project. “Now that we’re performing it live, we’re discovering new things about the songs, and the stories continue to develop and expand. We’re making comics and films and artwork that explore the world of the album and the characters that appear.”
Schneider says they’re excited to be back in Birmingham, a city they’ve frequented as they’ve built their following (you may remember them at the inaugural Cask & Drum Festival, for example.) “I’ve always had really good experiences in Birmingham. I’ve had great interactions with fans and promoters and radio folks. Good vibes all around,” Schneider says. “Some of our most memorable tour experiences were at the Bottletree. I love that place. Birmingham should keep doing whatever it is they’re doing.”
Whether you catch them at Sloss or not, you should give them a listen and see where they can take you. Like with many bands, their music is best if you start at the beginning and listen to it evolve, but if you’re just wanting a taste, some of my favorite songs are “I Will Be Back One Day” and “She Lit a Fire” from Lonesome Dreams and “The Night We Met” and “Louisa” from Strange Trails. The songs are trails indeed, little avenues to that thing that is bigger than us, Schneider explains. “I hope our songs convey a sense of something bigger, something vast, even endless,” he says. “I hope people feel like they can inhabit that world for a little while when they listen to our music.”
6/20: The Heavy Hearts w/ Kate Tucker & the Sons of Sweden at Workplay. For fans of Katie Herzig, Ingrid Michaelson, and The Civil Wars.
7/7: MeWithoutYou at Saturn. For fans of Manchester Orchestra, Minus the Bear, and The Dear Hunter.
7/31: Secret Stages in Downtown Birmingham. For fans of music by people you’ve never heard of.