Wakarusa 2013 Featured Artist: THE LAST BISON

As we make our second trek into the Arkansas wilderness for the return of yet another Wakarusa Festival, we can’t help but admire the steller lineup the team behind the scenes has put together. From co-headlining sets by Widespread Panic, Snoop Lion, Of Monsters & Men and many more, to highly anticipated performances from Buffalo Killers, The Apache Relay, Shovels & Rope, and the Whigs – it’s going to be a weekend to remember. 

TheBlueIndian.com caught up with Wakarusa 2013 Official Artist THE LAST BISON for a short interview about the importance of family, covering M83, and or course – Wakarusa 2013. 

The Last Bison - Matt Eich

The Last Bison – Matt Eich

Bands often describe themselves as a “family” once they’ve spent a bit of time on the road together. In this case, the term is quite literal. Like with any family, the bond is built by overcoming hardships, developing trust, and learning that sometimes you have to put someone you love in their right place, whether it’s easy or not. If you could pinpoint it to a specific moment(s), is there a point in the band’s timeline where family became more than blood?

Annah – When we went into the recording studio we definitely bonded in a deeper way. Working with a producer for the first time was rewarding and challenging. There was times when we just didn’t agree with what the producer was suggesting, and we found that in spite of any differences we felt within the band, we all were united in preserving certain aspects of our music.

Jay – I felt this last two months, on the Inheritance Tour we really grew together as a band and learned to understand one another better. When it came to working together at shows and also just learning to live together and love each other better than we have on past trips.

Andrew – No one ever explicitly deserves family and it’s not something you can take for granted. When you learn that, I think, is when those relationships start to become three-dimensional. I’d say the same probably goes for most relationships that require love and sacrifice.

WakarusaAs of only a few months ago, the band was sitting strong on Inheritance EP, a mere-glimpse at what fans could expect from your live show. Now that Inheritance, the full-length is out, you have a much stronger catalogue of what you can offer. Does the record get it’s name from the strong family aspect of the band and the musical traditions passed along?

Dan – The name Inheritance definitely draws on our family ties and the value we place on traditions.  Even the members of the band who are not related have very close families and there are deep and lasting friendships between us. The musical traditions we inherited are varied, with the Hardesty’s drawing on Americana and Rock roots, while the Benfante’s grew up with their father playing a lot of Jazz in the house. Amos and Teresa are both from a classical background. There is definitely a rich musical heritage represented in the band. Another significance to the Inheritance title is the importance of faith to the band. We are all at different places in our journey but we all recognize that the faith of our families has impacted us deeply.

Apart from a tour-heavy schedule, you all have been showing up on festival roster’s around the nation – including a favorite of ours at TheBlueIndian – Savannah Stopover. What’s been the most memorable festival experience of the year, whether pleasant or unpleasant?

Annah – We spent four days at Doe Bay Fest on Orcas Island in Washington. The place is absolutely beautiful and the bands and fans form an amazing community and environment that is relaxing and full of creativity. Music pops up everywhere and we had lots of time to relax and enjoy the place. Another festival highlight was Treefort in Boise. The crowd there was so enthusiastic. They were going nuts for the band before us, and we were thinking, “this is going to be a hard act to follow.” When we came on, they turned it up a notch and went wild. It felt like playing to a home crowd. We love Boise!

Jay – After we finished our set in Boise the crowd screamed for an encore for nearly 3 minutes before we told them we couldn’t because there was another band coming on. That was definitely a special moment and I look forward to playing Boise again.

The M83 song & video is nothing short of amazing. What prompted it?

Dan – The M83 cover just kind of happened one night. We were at a rehearsal when a friend showed up who was supposed to have been at a Passion Pit show. There was some issue and the venue announced that ticket holders could either get a refund or sit in on a shorter acoustic set by Passion Pit.  She decided to come to our rehearsal instead. When we heard this, we tried to imagine what an acoustic Passion Pit show would be like, which lead to us discussing what other bands would be odd to hear acoustic. M83 came up, and we thought, “why not give it a try.” When we saw that the folks who had gathered at our rehearsal were bobbing their heads and digging the music, we decided to start performing it live. It was definitely a good decision.

You all have a clear influence from the music of Appalachia. Have your families lived in the Virginia area for generations, or could it be more attributed to wanting to reflect on the “music of place”?

Ben – Actually none of us can trace our roots too far back in Virginia, but we all have a deep love for the area and the history of our state. We all grew up here and I have always loved the music of Appalachia.  I love the idea of reflecting the “music of place” as well. I find my music is affected by geography. When I write songs, the music and lyrics are often tied to an actual place that I have experienced. So, having spent my life in Virginia, definitely has an impact on our music.

Later in May, the band will make their debut at Wakarusa Festival in Arkansas. From what you know about the festival, what are you most looking forward to?

Jay – Definitely looking forward to the water slide. That looks super fun!

Ben – Gogol Bordello!