By: Thomas D. Mooney
With a name like Warren Jackson Hearne, you’re basically born to be a musician. And not just any kind of musician. You’re inherently born to sing murder ballads.
So, that’s basically what Hearne has done.
Hearne’s two primary tools are his whiskey-soaked vocals and his devil chasing and bar fight starting tunes about gloomy and unfortunate souls.
When you hear Hearne’s tracks, you swear he stole a notebook from Nick Cave or Tom Waits.
He really is though, a southern ballad maker, crafting songs you wish you could hear in the streets of a late 1800s gold panning outpost.
And while you can’t actually do that, you can catch Hearne and his latest band, Le Leek Electrique (along with The Holler Time and Tori Vasquez) at the Depot District Obar soon.
New Slang: So I saw you perform at Bash’s, I believe one or two years ago. Great performance and everything. One of the things I noticed–and sets you apart really–is just how well dressed you are. I mean, I think it really adds something extra when you’re listening to songs played by a guy in a suit.
Warren Jackson Hearne: I guess so. I kind of do that everyday. I don’t know, I guess I’m one of those kind of people who aren’t very happy with the way people dress now days. Just part of me, I guess.
NS: I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but I think kind of adds some mythic and legendary qualities to Warren Jackson Hearne. Like, you’re dressed like a mysterious traveling bluesmen from the 1920s. I don’t know, that’s what I like to think though [laughs].
WJH: I agree that if I was dressed in a t-shirt and jean shorts, it wouldn’t come across as well [laughs].
NS: You’ve got a few projects going. They all have some similar elements, but they’re all distinctly different as well. When you’re writing a song, how do you decide which project gets that song? Or do they crossover for multiple things?
WJH: Kind of. Like with the Gloomadeers–I started that about ten years ago–I started writing these folk songs and I started gathering friends around to back up. Which, we don’t really play any more. This new group, which we’re calling Le Leek Electrique–which doesn’t mean anything really, it’s just gibberish [laughs]. And what we’re trying to do is electrifying it. With the last band was all acoustic. At first, I wouldn’t even allow anyone to plug-in. But this new band is all-electric. The songwriting isn’t really different. And a lot of the songs that I brought to the new band, surprisingly they actually worked [electric]. The sound is all over the place. It’s really what I like. I don’t really like to play the same thing over and over again. I like new settings and that’s what this new band is all about.
NS: There’s this one photograph of you on your Facebook page (above), which is really Robert Johnson-esque. Was that done on purpose?
WJH: [Laughs]. No, actually. I was having my picture taken after a gig in Ft. Worth, so I just sat down and it’s just kind of what I did [laughs]. It wasn’t intentional, but I have heard that before.
NS: And those songs in particular on that Facebook page, they’re very early blues. And the photograph, it’s just a great representation of what the songs sound like. Anyways, your music, it’s very southern dark blues with some gospel tones. What kind of music were you raised on? How were you introduced to music?
WJH: My dad and my mom both played. And pretty much everybody in my family played something. My aunt played piano, my grandfather played accordion and had a gospel singing group with his brothers back in the 40s. So I was around that a lot while growing up. A lot of gospel music. A lot of folk music. So that was a lot of my upbringing. My dad would always play anything on his guitar.
NS: How did you get into the Denton?
WJH: Well, I was in Ft. Worth and never really been there. I had some friends living there. One was going to school and the other was kind of hanging out and this other friend who would come up all the time who would, well he would come to pick up trash chicks at the Wal-Mart [laughs]. So, I went up with him to hang out with the other two friends, go to Wal-Mart, let him do his thing [laughs]. Then, I ended up staying over a week. So that’s kind of how I ended up here [laughs].
NS: How has the Denton music scene taken you in?
WJH: Oh, it’s great. I think it’s the best music scene here in the state. I mean, Austin always gets the props because it’s just so massive and just so much going on. But when I was there, I didn’t think it was too great. A lot of it was just people trying to get on the radio or trying to be what was hip at that point. And it really made me want to go back home to Denton more. Everybody just plays the music they want to and it doesn’t really follow any trends or anything. But people here, it really seems like the music scene is just really supported. And not just one genre, one sound, or one group of people. I feel that’s kind of like how Lubbock is too. That’s why I like playing there so much [laughs].