SXSW: Talking Love and Loss with Lord Huron

Lord Huron is no stranger to SXSW, last time they played, they did 11 shows in 4 days. If you haven’t heard their music, you’re missing out on a beautiful blend of what I describe as atmospheric calypso folk, enhanced by the use of interesting instruments including elephant bells, maracas, various shakers, and washboard vests. The band themselves look like the most well mannered, well dressed, and well groomed Midwestern boys you could ever find. They’re the kind of men you’d want to take home to meet your mom.

They pull off the look that most hipsters are trying to go for – but for them it is effortless and authentic.

Benjamin Schneider, the founding member of Lord Huron, is everything that you’d hope he’d be after listening to their music. Somewhat soft spoken, insightful, and polite; even his backstory makes perfect sense. Originally from Michigan, Schneider moved to LA to follow a girl and pursue a career as a painter. Thankfully for us, neither of those pursuits worked out, and now we have the well crafted album, Lonesome Dreams, to listen to any time we need to escape from our lives and fall into something soothing and entrancing. We met with Schneider to learn a little bit more about one of our favorite bands at SXSW.

Milk Made: For anyone that hasn’t heard your music, the name Lord Huron always seems to confuse and surprise people. What are the origins of the name?

Benjamin Schneider: Well, Lake Huron is obviously one of the Great Lakes of Michigan and I spent a lot of my childhood summers hanging up there. And since I was a kid I always imagined myself as the ruler of that part of the world or something. I recorded the first couple EPs up there when I was on vacation and it just seemed like because the genesis of the project was there and it was such an important place to me, I wanted to include it in the name. And the lord thing, like I said – I always felt like it was my domain.

There’s also a tradition in calypso music, which I was listening to a lot of at the time, where they give themselves these grandiose titles like prince or king or lord or mighty this and that, so I thought it was kind of cool to put those two things together. It made sense for the way the music sounds to me, but a lot of people think it’s a metal band.

MM: There is some confusion on whether Lord Huron is just you or a group of people, can you clarify the roots of band?

BS: I recorded the first couple EPs on my own, kind of thinking if would be fun, kind of a little project for me. And then we started getting offered some shows, and it seemed like it could turn into something more than I orginally thought. It wasn’t as cool to watch me playing solo, I promise you, so I just called up some of my old friends – my buddy Mark who I grew up with, he was playing in Nashville at the time as a session musician and he said he’d come out and do a couple shows, and he’s been out there ever since. It’s been me and Mark and the bass player Miguel. We’ve switched around guitar players, but we ended up with the guitar player from our first band. Going on the road with people you’ve known since you were 10 years old is pretty cool.

MM: So… the girl you moved out to LA for… how did that pan out?

BS: It didn’t work out in the end.. but no hard feelings.

MM: We talked to another musician earlier today who also started their band after a failed relationship. Do you find heartbreak or falling in love more inspiring for your music?

BS: I guess both sides of it for me. I’m just interested in all of those interesting facets of where a relationship can go and how they start and how they end, kind of all of those parts of it are interesting to me. I guess because of the way that and other relationships I’ve had have ended where it’s not necessarily heartbreak – well it’s heartbreak in a different way, where you both kind of agree and come to an understanding that it’s just not working out. And sometimes those are the hardest way to end a relationship because you want to stay friends, but you kind of can’t. It’s the pursuit of love and the loss of love and everything in between [that inspires me].

MM: Do you ever feel vulnerable putting your love life out in your music for everyone to listen to?

BS: I could see being on some huge level where you’re famous or something how that can feel a little intrusive, but I feel like we’re small enough now where I feel like we’re in a small world now. I’ll see how I feel if I get any bigger.

Hopefully Ben won’t feel any differently when Lord Huron does get bigger, because if the audiences at SXSW are any judgment of the trajectory of their career, they are definitely going to be playing for bigger audiences soon.

Photos By: Koury Angelo

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