Originally from Racine, WI, American Restless debut Rust Belt Rock N Roll on San Diego’s Blind Owl Records marks the first time the three old friends converge on one LP. Due out June 2023, songs from the group’s forthcoming debut have already appeared on sports broadcasts like ESPN and UFC Fight Night, as well as in award-winning adventure film director Maxwell Frost’s latest feature, Lake Bike Hell. Today American Restless has dropped one of the singles off the upcoming release, “Western Wind.”
Guitarist Noah Lekas said on the single: “My old man always says, “if you go play the gig nothing might happen, but if you stay home, nothing will happen.” Originally, that’s all I thought this song was about – a Kerouacian vision of unrestricted possibility. But recently, it’s become obvious to me that this song is also about doing the work that is in front of you, even if that work is getting in the van against all better sense.
It’s about hope. To keep living, to keep playing, to keep creating. That is the hardest road of them all. You can hit some hard travelin’ with Woody Guthrie, keep walkin’ down the line with Bob Dylan, or go into the great wide open with Tom Petty, but you have to keep moving and that takes hope.
Sometimes, the hardest battle is believing that the next step is not only worth taking but will somehow improve your perspective. Not knowing where you’re headed is fine as long as you know you need to be headed somewhere. Being uncertain if you’re on the right path is better than being certain that you are on the wrong one. “If you stay home, nothing will happen” to quote my Dad.
This song is really a special one for the band. Bassist Ian Grant and I wrote it together, and my Dad, Gary Lekas, not only provided the hard-earned wisdom that inspired several of the lyrics, he also plays organ on it, with Arjuna Contrares joining on drums.
‘Western Wind’ is a song of hope. Hope to steel the spine, strengthen the resolve, and keep creating even when you only have one foot on the right path and it feels like a waste of time.”
While this is the band’s first album, the story of American Restless started nearly 15 years ago during the crash of 2008. Low on employment opportunities and high on inspiration, Lekas spent a long winter in East Nashville writing the earliest sketches of what would become American Restless. After nearly 50 shows in the summer of 2009, American Restless went on unofficial hiatus. Collaborations and intermittent one-offs ensued, but the next decade found Lekas writing and performing with a variety of acts in New York City and San Diego while Grant logged well over a hundred gigs a year in the Midwest.
With the publication of Lekas’ first book, Saturday Night Sage and subsequent sonic poetry collaboration with psych-legends Howlin’ Rain, Sounds from the Shadow Factory, American Restless was little more than an ongoing conversation between old friends until the pandemic and subsequent shutdown landed the band back in the studio.
The old friends would first collaborate on a track called, “Listening to Bob Dylan and Waiting for the World to End”, a detuned talking blues number brought to life through an animated video by award-winning Director Shelby Baldock. Then, on December 18, 2021, another Racine expat, Gerald “GM3” Meerschaert walked to the cage for UFC Fight Night to an early demo version of “Cadillac Head”, officially kicking the band, and a new record in motion.
Recording with The Silent Comedy’s Jeremiah Zimmerman in East Nashville – less than a mile from where Lekas originally hauled up in 2008 – the resulting album puts the band’s roots on full display with 10 songs in 28 breakneck minutes. Simultaneously a nod to proto-punk and post-punk, the collection combines the freewheeling poetry of the beats, the anti-nostalgia of punk, the fury and fuzz of metal, and the slap echo twang of late-stage blues and early rock and roll earning comparisons like Red Fang meets Reverend Horton Heat and Black Sabbath meets The Blasters. One thing is for sure, it is American music–and it’s as restless as ever.
Photo Courtesy: Nathaniel Stiers