Emily Herman met with the close-knit, alternative country trio to reflect on how the band stays grounded in the face of a growing career.
The Lone Bellow band members:
Zach Williams (guitar, vocals)
Kanene Pipkin (mandolin, bass, keys, vocals)
Brian EImquist (guitar, vocals)
Emily Herman: You guys have come a long way in the past few years so performing at Landmark is pretty huge. What’s your journey been like?
Zach Williams: We just started out as friends in Brooklyn. Brian was working at a diner, and Kanene was a pastry chef. We just got together for rehearsal one morning just to have a good time and we ended up really liking the songs and singing together and playing together. We made a record just a few months after that. Then, we had to sit on it for like two years and try and put the puzzles together of like, who could be on the team to help us do this for a living. When the actual opportunity came up for us to start touring, it was a dream come true. Now we’re a couple years in and we’ve realized that some of the hardest work is being able to take care of each other on the road.
Kanene Pipkin: Yeah, I kind of see that the more you play — hopefully, if people like it and you put together a good team that you trust to do the promotions — then you’ll get bigger gigs. I think the true success for us of like our day-in and day-out is are we kind to each other? Are we doing what we believe in? Are we kind of honoring the people coming to our shows? Trying not to take things for granted and trying not to lose sight of how fleeting all of this can be. Just kind of enjoy it.
EH: Obviously this is a different kind of show than your average gig. What’s the difference, for you, between performing at a huge festival like this versus your regular show, where you’re one of two or three bands?
ZW: It’s such a great mix at a festival, you never know where folks are coming from. It’s fun putting the set list together because you have to go out and see the vibe of the people that are here before you really put it together. It’s a huge energy. I do love like quaint little shows where you get to meet everybody and hear their stories and stuff like that but there’s another part of it that’s just like a really good time — just when a whole bunch of people gather together to listen to music and have the same hopes for the day.
Brian Elmquist: And you get to enjoy other artists that you like and you get to hang out and meet them. We don’t normally get to see each other in the same place unless you’re at a festival. So it’s a really good time too.
KP: Yeah we don’t usually open for Drake, so it’s not a normal gig.
EH: Are you going to meet Drake?
ZW: No we will not meet Drake tonight.
KP: You never know. The night is young.
EH: So in general, what should we expect for your show today? What are you going to bring to the stage?
KP: They’re going to sweat a lot.
BE: Just freaking singing our brains off.
KP: Singing our brains off! We have a full spectrum of emotions we like to plow through in an hour. Just be prepared. Feelings — lots of ‘em.
EH: Anything else you want to add about your experience here or your life on the road right now or where you are as a band?
KP: We really want to meet the president. If he reads The Johns Hopkins News-Letter…
ZW: I don’t want to meet the President of the United States. I want to meet the president of Johns Hopkins.