One gets the feeling that as inspired by Bob Dylan as Lord Huron ringleader Ben Schneider probably is, John Wayne might be just as influential.
The cinematic compositions harken back to the golden era of Westerns, and even with a dash of Bollywood and stroke of lush, Northern landscapes (a reflection of his native Michigan), each song has a hitch in its step and hands hovering over the holster.
“We think a lot about movies and more visual things when we make music. That dime-Western and spaghetti-Western imagery really plays a big role,” Schneider said. “I’ve always been drawn to that aesthetic. Really, I’m just drawn to stories in that setting. It’s a human experience: Man and the new frontier is a great place for a story to unfold.”
The videos for singles “Time to Run” and “Lonesome Dreams,” both from last year’s album of the same name of the latter, brought the scenery in Lord Huron’s head to life.
“It’s soundtracking a movie in reverse,” Schneider said. “We had these visuals in mind, and we wanted to reflect that in the music videos that we could all sort of link together into this full sort of production. It’s a continuing narrative that isn’t over yet.”
Schneider grew up away from the sandy plains, however, growing up in Lansing.
“Naturally, anywhere you spend a lot of your life, that’s where a lot of your formative experiences happen. For me, that was Michigan,” he said. “I spent a lot of time outside, and nature has had a huge influence on the music. The landscapes all come to play in a pretty great way in my music.”
After studying at the University of Michigan, Schneider made his tracks across the worlds he dreamt about, spending a year in Europe, crashing in New York City and subsequently chasing a girl across the U.S. to Los Angeles before settling down.
“I felt like I could go out into the world. Part of me loves my home and misses it a lot,” he said. “The other part just wants to wander around.”
Those travels came in handy when it was time to record Lord Huron’s full-length debut, Lonesome Dreams. The album has a foothold in the Southwest, but shares tales worldwide through its story.
“I wanted to make a cohesive collection of songs,” Schneider said. “It took time to make that happen, and I feel like we were pretty successful.”
Friday’s show at Opolis with Escondido is one of many planned through the rest of the year. Meanwhile, Schneider has been writing and recording demos that might find Lord Huron stepping out of the desert and into Arnold’s Drive-In.
“I’ve been listening to a lot of rockabilly lately,” Schneider said. “There might be a little bit of that flavor coming into it.”