The Lone Bellow, A Trio Built On Harmony And Trust Brian Elmquist, Kanene Pipkin and Zach Williams talk with NPR's Rachel Martin about their new album, Then Came the Morning.
NPR logo

The Lone Bellow, A Trio Built On Harmony And Trust

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/379384762/379756235" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
The Lone Bellow, A Trio Built On Harmony And Trust

The Lone Bellow, A Trio Built On Harmony And Trust

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/379384762/379756235" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WATCH OVER US")

THE LONE BELLOW: (Singing) Watch over us. Father, your sickness lives here in me.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

That beautiful tapestry of harmonies is the latest from the trio, The Lone Bellow. The song is called "Watch Over Us," and it comes off the group's latest album which is called "Then Came The Morning." Zack Williams, Kanene Pipkin and Brian Elmquist are The Lone Bellow, and they join us from our studios in New York. Thanks so much for being with us.

BRIAN ELMQUIST: Thanks for having us.

KANENE PIPKIN: Thanks for having us, yeah.

MARTIN: Singing harmony is a really intimate experience. What is it like for the three of you when you're in that moment?

PIPKIN: Well, I grew up harmony singing and a lot of the work of that for me growing up was learning how to change my voice to sing with other people and how to blend. And the first time I sang with these guys, we all just had to belt this ridiculous note. And we were all singing our faces off. And I realized after the song was over I was, like, I didn't think once about changing my voice, like, it just feels so good singing with these two. And it's so much about trust and hope. And I think it adds a quality to the music that just can't be faked, or it can't be taught with technique.

MARTIN: Let's listen to another song off the new album. This one is called "Call To War."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CALL TO WAR")

THE LONE BELLOW: (Singing) Tables prepared and streets of gold, you've bared your tears from stories told. The stage is set so we can fly. But suns will set and hearts are wise.

MARTIN: So what was the recording process like for this album? I'm going to put Brian on the spot.

ELMQUIST: We went up to this church in upstate New York close to Woodstock called Dreamland which is an old studio.

PIPKIN: And there are stained-glass windows.

MARTIN: Oh, wow.

PIPKIN: You're in a big sanctuary, a big open sanctuary. And we did all the vocals live and together. And it was a different way for us to record. And it was wonderful.

MARTIN: What was different about it? Can you...

PIPKIN: Just to do it all together.

MARTIN: At the same time instead of laying down separate tracks.

PIPKIN: At the same time, and, yeah, there was no opportunity, really, for minute tweaking or that kind of hyper-perfection you hear a lot in studio recordings. And then it's a really liberating way to record vocals. And you just have all of these voices bouncing off the walls. And it just feels really transcendent and beautiful.

MARTIN: Yeah. A lot of the lyrics and the inspiration for your songs come from very personal places. The song "Marietta" is illustrative of that. Let's listen to a little bit of this before we talk about it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MARIETTA")

THE LONE BELLOW: (Singing) You sleep with the lights on. I let you in again, Marietta. The loneliness burns at your door in your midnight. She seeps through the cracks in your floor.

MARTIN: How did that song come to be?

ZACK WILLIAMS: I've never talked about this song in a recorded situation.

MARTIN: Is this Zach?

WILLIAMS: Yes, this is Zach. Hello. I met my wife when I was young. I met her when I was 12. And we had been married for, like, three years when we moved out to New York. And our relationship kind of spiraled into a confusing time. There was betrayal that happened, and there were secrets that were kept for several years. And it was terrible. And then one day we started being honest with each other. And Marietta represents a person in my life that hurt me. And the song is a confession that I'm just like him. It was just, like, a time in my life where I had to come to grips with the fact that I am also capable of doing folks wrong.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MARIETTA")

THE LONE BELLOW: (Singing) And I am. Anyone could it be. Love found and lost and your name.

WILLIAMS: And we made it through, and the record comes out January 27. And I do not know what I'm going to say when people ask me this question about this song. I know that it's important to me to sing songs that are honest. And I need to be honest with myself and sing those songs. And it's a beautiful thing to be able to sing on a song was friends, with real friends.

PIPKIN: Yeah. We always say that, like, you can sing something that's really, really, really sad or dark, but if there are three people singing at the same time, it's not as sad.

MARTIN: One of the things that your fans love about the three of you and your band in general is what it's like to experience a live performance - energy and emotion and making yourselves vulnerable singing these very personal songs in this very public space. And it has this confessional element to it. Are you just wiped at the end of the show?

ELMQUIST: Yes, we're wiped.

WILLIAMS: I was, like, who's going to say it?

PIPKIN: Everyone was, like, big inhale.

ELMQUIST: I know, it's the up and down of the whole thing. I mean, we, in a day, will play to a bunch of people and songs that you've written and you're a part of are a part of their story. And they've almost took the meaning, your meaning, out of it and put theirs in it. That's what's so beautiful about singing these songs. And with a three- part harmony is, I think, just invites people into it. And it's not, like, just get sad. Let's celebrate life and, like, what it is, the up and down. It's all of it. It, like, it sucks, and its great and beautiful and horrible at the same time.

MARTIN: The Lone Bellow's new album is called "Then Came The Morning." It is out Tuesday. Zach Williams, Kanene Pipkin and Brian Elmquist. Thanks so much for talking with us, you three.

PIPKIN: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FAKE ROSES")

THE LONE BELLOW: (Singing) It's a low and lonesome song.

MARTIN: You can hear all of The Lone Bellow's new album "Then Came The Morning" before it comes out on Tuesday in a first listen at our website, npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FAKE ROSES")

THE LONE BELLOW: (Singing) Put her mind on better times. It's a low and lonesome song.

MARTIN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.