The Lone Bellow is a killer Brooklyn-based band that debuted its first self-titled album early this year. They’ve been featured in USA Today, The New York Times, The Alternative Press and Rolling Stone, and have also performed on Conan O’Brien and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. We’re psyched to introduce them as our latest LomoAmigos!
*Zach Williams (guitar, lead vocals)
*Kanene Donehey Pipkin (mandolin, vocals)
*Brian Elmquist (guitar, vocals)
1- Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
We’re two guys from Georgia, a Virginia girl, and a whole community of long time friends who all ended up doing life together in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn. I had just moved to the city from Beijing, Brian a couple years earlier from Nashville and Zach a few years before that from Florida. That fall we tried singing together, and one song into our first practice we decided maybe we should sing together full time.
2- Kanene, we know you are a photography enthusiast. How did you first get into photography?
When I was about 17, I started taking pictures for the school yearbook. I felt the excitement and premature nostalgia that comes with being on the brink of a major life change. It brought about a sudden urgency to capture my reality, the mundane and the beautiful. A spectacular soccer goal, the way a friend looked when he laughed, it all began to matter, and I wanted to remember it.
3- What do you find the most fun about lomography cameras?
The double exposure tool, for sure. It felt a little risky layering at first, but when I did it successfully it added this dreamy feel that made the photos ring truer to my experiences.
4- We know you guys just came from a tour. How is to be on the road far away from home, sleeping in a different place each night?
Tour is feast or famine, the highs are extremely high and the lows pretty low. You go from the surreal experience of hearing a roomful of strangers sing your songs, cheer your name and tell you how much what you do means to them, to being sick in a van for fifteen straight hours with five smelly dudes on no sleep. When we tour, Zach and Brian are away from their wives, Zach from his kids too, so we treasure the times they can stow away with us and remind us of life outside the band. I have the incredible blessing of my husband being in the band, but we miss our home and neighborhood something fierce. For all of us, we’re trying to drink in the sights and stories we’re discovering all across America. We’re constantly reminded of why we do this, both by people at shows and friends and family at home, and it keeps us going.
5- Zach learned to play the guitar just a few years ago and now he’s part of an acclaimed band. Do you think anyone can be an artist even if we haven’t ever been in touch with art for a long time?
We all have creative ability and artistic drive. I think every human is, at their core, an artist. In order to identify as one, though, you have to push back the fear of creating something, and then making it available for people to evaluate. They might dismiss, applaud, ridicule, reject, love or hate what you do, and you have to choose to create anyway.
6- Carnegie Hall is the dream of every musician. The likes of Frank Sinatra and Placido Domingo have performed there. What does it feel to be there, playing in one of the most iconic music halls of the world?
It feels completely surreal. I know people say practice is the only way you get to Carnegie Hall, but I think it was a flat out miracle in our case. We absolutely love our city, and we were overwhelmed playing that stage.
7- How would you describe your music?
If we could, we would describe it simply as country, but we understand that’s a semantically loaded term nowadays. Americana is a fitting genre, simply because it is such a flexible and inclusive term. Basically, I’d say it’s storytelling country music influenced by soul, gospel, rock and a healthy amount of 90’s R&B.
8- How do you guys plan to spend thanksgiving?
Brian is celebrating his first wedding anniversary, and the rest of us are heading south to spend some time with family.
9- The Lomography main rule is: don’t follow the rules. Do you think that apply to music too?
Absolutely. A rule in music, be it technique, songwriting form, or instrumentation is necessary up to a point, but it will only get you so far. Rules won’t push you past white noise. You have to put that rogue variable of yourself into the music.
10- How do you see the band in the future, what are your main goals as musicians?
We see ourselves writing worthwhile songs together and learning how to trust and take care of each other better. We want to write from an honest place and honor the people who’ve made us a part of their story by listening to our records. We’d love to be in a position to help other upcoming artists, we’d love to be on a bus instead of in a van. I’d really love to have a road dog and to meet Dolly Parton.