Though he’s been a recording artist for over two decades now, and has been writing songs for thirty years, Josh T. Pearson hasn’t racked up much of a discography thus far, at least in terms of the number of albums he’s released. But then, those two albums – 2001’s The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, by his group Lift To Experience, and his 2011 solo debut Last Of The Country Gentlemen – contained more substance and inspiration than most artists’ entire careers. The former was a cosmic, apocalyptic allegorical fantasy that saw Pearson try to come to terms with his faith and his intense upbringing; the latter was an agonizing, powerfully confessional account of the collapse of his marriage. You can’t rush material like that.
Lately, however, the dapper Texan gentleman has been motivated by a desire to share more Josh T. Pearson music with the world, before it’s too late. “My whole point of not putting out records was to not have to be told what to do. I’ve always intentionally limited myself. I didn’t want to be a part of the establishment. I was just trying to survive, do art, live life,” he explains. “In the last years I learned to dance, take drugs, make love… choose life. I got rid of the beard, cut my hair and started wearing colour. I burned down all my idols and realized in the process that I needed to burn down my reputation as fast as I could too. I felt constricted by the old stuff and I didn’t like being in a cage. It wasn’t letting me move on.”
There's something somewhat frightening, yet utterly liberating when leaving the confines of a successful band to venture solo — especially a band whose latest record was called "effortlessly brilliant" by critics. But, such is the case with Erika Wennerstrom who is taking a break from her Austin-based rock band, Heartless Bastards, to deliver her solo debut Sweet Unknown.
"It was a really freeing experience," reveals the singer/songwriter/guitarist. "I found my strength in my vulnerability as an artist, and really, just as a person. It kind of forced me to allow myself to be a little more exposed and stand on my own two feet. I feel like I've grown a lot creatively and personally."
But fans of Heartless Bastards — which has released five critically- acclaimed albums since their 2003 inception, appeared on many late night television shows, and has drawn praise from Rolling Stone, Time, New York Times — need not worry. The band has not broken up. "We'd been going for so long and everyone in the band was just ready for a little break. But I had songs in me that needed to come out. I didn't think it was fair to push them to keep going and I didn't want to do it without them under the band name," explains Wennerstrom, who enlisted the help of HB's Jesse Ebaugh to play bass on 8 of the 9 tracks on Sweet Unknown.