Nashville-based trio the Lone Bellow put their own spin on Americana and folk while consistently expanding their creative lens. Guitarist and lead vocalist Zach Williams, multi-instrumentalist Kanene Donehey Pipkin and guitarist Brian Elmquist do this with stellar songwriting and vocal harmonies and have a knack for leaving a lasting impression.
The band recently put out a new album, Love Songs For Losers, on Dualtone Records, and they’ll be performing at The Warehouse at the Fairfield Theatre Company on Friday to promote it.
New York City alt-rock trio Bailen will be opening up the evening at 8 p.m.
Williams and I talked ahead of the show about self-producing an album for the first time, guidance from a producer they worked with prior, recording it at a house that used to be owned by a music legend and how sometimes words can fail you when you’re trying to express how you truly feel.
RD: Love Songs For Losers is the first album that The Lone Bellow has self-produced. With taking on those responsibilities, what was the experience like making the album while handling every aspect of it?
ZW: It felt really good to be able to completely control a work from start to finish. We had never done that before and I think that we needed to take a chance on ourselves and see if we could produce something without any help. It felt like a good album to do it, it’s our fifth album, we’ve been a band for over 10 years and I’m really happy with the final product.
RD: You should be because it sounds excellent. Did you take any tips, approaches and techniques from your time working with Dave Cobb and The National’s Aaron Dessner as producers or did each of you aim to put your own individualistic stamp on the album’s production and not try to borrow anything from anybody?
ZW: We definitely have learned some little tricks from these amazing producers that we’ve been able to work with. Even to the point where we would send Aaron mixes to see what he would think about them and he was so kind while checking it out, he would give us little notes. He’s a special kind of human being to do something like that, especially with how busy he is just making massively successful records.
RD: It’s cool that he was able to interact with you three during the process. How were you able to record the album over eight weeks at Roy Orbison’s former home in Nashville? Can you confirm if the place is haunted or not? I’ve heard stories about some strange bumps in the night happening over there.
ZW: I found the guy that built the house. He built his first house when he was 14 and he built his last house when he was 93, he built 55 houses in the Nashville area throughout his life and I feel like he’s the Frank Lloyd Wright of the South. I found his widow, I went and met with her in her home, which is a house that he also built deep in the woods of Tennessee. We sat for hours and she told me all these insane stories of all of these parties & hangs, he built houses for Tammy Wynette and Johnny Cash. He built Roy’s first house that burned down where two of his children tragically died in that fire and a lot of the houses that he built have burned down, probably because of what they were made out of.
She told me that nobody lives in Roy Orbison’s house, so I found the man that owned it. He lives in Chicago, he’s a huge Orbison fan and I asked him if we could make music there. He was like “Yeah, man” and he let us use it for several weeks for free, we made it into a studio and it was a really inspiring place to make music. Brian [Elmquist] had to spend a week there by himself before anybody else got there because his family got COVID and he had to quarantine. He said that in the middle of the night around 4am, he would wake up to something pressing his hand down on the bed and he actually welcomes that kind of stuff, but yeah I’d say it might be haunted.
RD: I’ve read all sorts of stories about that house being haunted so it doesn’t surprise me that Brian experienced that. When it comes to the songwriting and arrangements, did you look to do anything differently than what you did with previous albums? Sonically there seems to be some more electronic and rock elements at play.
ZW: We started using Korg instruments a lot on the last record we made with Aaron Dessner, so there’s some extension of that on this record where we got a little deeper into those sounds from the keys. Lyrically, some of my favorite lyrics we’ve ever written are on this record. On the song “Unicorn”, it kind of celebrates how your words can fail you sometimes when you’re trying to tell someone how much you care about them and trying to write in that way was a really fun challenge.
RD: It’s been nearly two weeks since Love Songs For Losers was released, so what do you hope people take from the album after they listen to it? Is there any messaging you’d like to get across?
ZW: I think the reason why we named it Love Songs For Losers is because it’s an “in case you feel the same” type of title. In case you feel like your words fail you when you try to tell someone how much you care about them, we feel that way too.
The Lone Bellow
70 Sanford Street, Fairfield CT
Friday, Nov. 18
Doors open at 7:00 p.m.