by Lauren Rosier
The Lone Bellow began as a songwriting project for founder Zach Williams whose wife had suffered from temporary paralysis as a result from a horseback riding accident. Following her recovery, they relocated to New York City for Williams to further pursue a career in music. Williams met with friend Brian Elmquist and fellow friend, Kanene Donehey Pipkin, and The Lone Bellow was born.
The band broke through with the release of their self titled debut record and the song “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold” helped them hit it big.
“The first album in general helped us quit our day jobs and hit the road. We got some good advice early on in our touring life to play as many headlining shows as possible. It ended up being an eye opening experience because you can’t lean on the crowd of another big band,” Williams explains. “You find out which cities you can consider your strong bases. Philly has always been one of them. Our very first show ever was playing upstairs at World Cafe Live.”
Having the opportunity to play “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold” for Williams has always been a reminder of where the band began, where they have been and where they have come from. “It’s a song about being broke in a city, but not wanting to leave because you love it,” he adds.
The Lone Bellow recently release their sophomore record, Then Came the Morning. Aaron Dessner of The National produced it. Williams says that this record is not any more personal than the first record was. “We try to write songs that mean something to us. We try to play shows that are worthwhile. We try our best to be a part of moments that are true.”
Becoming friends with Dessner was one of Williams’ favorite parts of creating Then Came the Morning. “He’s such an intentional creative force as a person and friend. His sense of hospitality seeped into the freedom of how we ended up finding the sonic values of these songs. It was beautiful,” he states.
Williams loved watching Desser and Elmquist go “down the rabbit holes together searching for the best sounds.” Jon Low [of Miner Street Recordings in Philadelphia] was also a blast to work with for the band. “He’s a Philly man! He engineered the entire record and before that worked with folks like War On Drugs and Sharon Van Etten,” Williams adds.
The band will be playing a ton of festivals this coming spring, like the Rites of Spring Festival in April and Hangout Festival in May. “Having the opportunity to play a full set of songs that have already been recorded and listened to has to be one of the best feelings of this tour. Now we can do this with an entire room full of folks and just see where it goes,” Williams says.
The Lone Bellow are performing to a sold out crowd at Underground Arts on Tuesday. As a thank you to the fans who helped the band sell out some of the upcoming shows, you can download a free demo version of “Leave Me or Let Me Go” on their website.