Guitarist & Bassist for the Heathen Apostles, The Cramps, Nick Curran & the Lowlifes

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Heathen Apostles – Gothic Americana Style

Gothic Americana supergroup The Heathen Apostles make their Portsmouth live debut: ‘We’re lean and mean and ready to do it!’ | Portsmouth News Interview
If you take a pinch of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, a touch of Bauhaus, plus the blues of Howlin’ Wolf, Loretta Lynn and Bessie Smith, as well as a hefty dose of the dark sound of the Appalachians, then you’re getting close to the sound of the Heathen Apostles. But perhaps the band hit upon the best epithet for their gothic Americana style music with the atmospherically titled Bloodgrass EPs, currently numbering four volumes in total. This is roots music that revels in the dark side.​

The band was created in 2013 by vocalist Mather Louth, formerly of ‘swamp jazz’ band Radio Noir, and guitarist Chopper Franklin, a multi-instrumentalist known for his past with garage-rock legends The Cramps and cult punks the Mau Maus among others. They recruited upright bassist Thomas Lorioux, from the group The Kings of Nuthin’, and violinist Luis Mascaro. Based in Los Angeles, they are making their long-awaited UK debut this month, including a date at The Wedgewood Rooms in Southsea.

Heathen Apostles - Gothic Americana Style

Heathen Apostles. Picture by Rebecca Van Der Schaft

As we discuss their roots, Chopper says: ‘For me it goes way back. Almost every band I’ve been in has been roots-music based, even the punk band the Maus Maus I was in back in the early ’80s, we were very heavily based in R&B and The Stones and The [New York] Dolls, and still had that aggressiveness, and there was a little bit of that goth – early-’80s goth-rock is just the best – and it kind of evolved from that.

‘I’ve been in gothabilly bands and cowpunk, and it’s always had that roots base, which I loved. It was right there in my first band, everyone listened to blues and R&B and reggae and being exposed to that as a teenager, I saw this as an evolution of that. We definitely lean more towards the gothic-Americana in that we are doing the country and the bluegrass, and there’s some of that blues and R&B, a little gypsy jazz here and there – you throw it in a big stew and mix it all up and hopefully it’s palatable.

The two met through mutual acquaintances. ‘I’d see her see at some of the local clubs around here,’ recalls Chopper. ‘We ran into each other at a party – it’s just two blocks from where we now live, ironically, and I mentioned that I wanted to do this project, something along these lines. It had always been a dream of mine to have a project with all of these influences. I mentioned it to her, it was just an idea at that time, and I had to finish up another project. I gave her two songs, she came over and sang on one of them, in the studio here and it was just magic. I knew she was going to be the singer. It was Dark Was The Night, which was our first real single we put out. ‘Everything else fell into place. We did things a bit backwards – we recorded our album and shot our video before we even played a show, so we were able to put this whole thing together and present it to musicians and collaborators and show promoters as: “This is what it is”.

Heathen Apostles - Gothic Americana Style

And as you can see from the pictures, the band has a strong visual aspect. ‘I’m self-taught in that regard and I’ve had amazing mentors over the years. It’s always been an interest of mine, so the band has been a good platform for me to experiment with that sort of thing. In certain videos we just come up with these crazy visual concepts, like I’m a resurrected moth woman and Chopper is resuscitating from a bone circle – just go with it…!

‘The videos are really where we have fun and over the years we’ve been blessed to work with friends of ours who are very talented directors or digital artists. We did this one video that was inspired by German expressionism, and it’s all black and white – it’s awesome. It offers more of the realm that our music exists in and the way that we see it.

The band’s most recent release is the single Gothic Western Haunts single for ‘weird west’ animated series The Goodbye Family, which Chopper also writes the score for. ‘Lorin (Morgan-Richards, the show’s creator) reached out to us during the pandemic,’ explains Chopper. ‘He’s been making that comic for quite a while and it’s his take on gothic western, and he’s heavily influenced by the original Addams Family as well. He decided he was going to do an animated series and he reached out to us to do the music. It’s worked really well.

While much of their material is original, the band is no stranger to a well-chosen cover song too. ‘That’s always fun,’ says Chopper, ‘especially once you’ve determined with your band what your sound is and what you want to put out there, to grab a song that’s not quite the genre, but is a great song… We did Echo and The Bunnymen, but we’ve also done old Irish and English murder ballads and everything in between.’

On 2019’s Dust to Dust they also tackled the haunting folk song In The Pines, perhaps more familiar to modern audiences as Where Did You Sleep Last Night? by Nirvana on their Unplugged album. And that’s not to mention Gershwin’s classic Summertime on Bloodgrass, Vol.1. ‘Especially with a song like that, it’s a challenge because it’s been done so many times and it’s been interpreted so many times – how do you make it fresh?’ says Mather of the latter song. ‘For me, filter it through your own lens. I’ve had people come up to me and say: “That was really ballsy that you guys covered that, because everyone’s covered it, but yours is unique somehow”. As long as you put yourself into it and put what you love into it, it’s what’s unique to you. When you’re trying to flat-out recreate a song, that’s where you have that magic opportunity.’

Edited for space, for more on the Heathen Apostles’ gothic Americana style music by Chris Broom, read the full interview HERE.

Heathen Apostles’ Depression Era Music Video Anniversary

Heathen Apostles' Depression era music video

Today marks the eighth anniversary of the Heathen Apostles’ Depression era music video for their song “Fool’s Gold.” Released in 2015, this dark and cinematic video transports us back to the Depression era, where bank robbers are seeking refuge in a fortune teller’s lair after a heist. “Fool’s Gold” is undoubtedly one of their most popular songs, and the music video took it to another level. The video was directed by the band and the song was produced by Chopper Franklin. The video follows a gang of bank robbers as they seek refuge in a mysterious and otherworldly lair. The fate of these robbers is determined by Mather Louth’s fortune teller character, who has a magical connection to the spirits of the underworld.

The use of shadows, light, and symbolism further adds to the video’s atmospheric and eerie ambiance. The video shows us the consequences of greed and violence, as the robbers who seek to escape with their loot end up trapped in a cycle of fear. Louth’s fortune teller character represents a higher power that has the power to judge and punish, much like the spirits of the afterlife.

Heathen Apostles' Depression era music video

It’s a testament to the talent and creativity of the Heathen Apostles and their collaborators who brought it to life. The band continues to release new and exciting music that pushes the boundaries with their Gothic Americana style, so hold tight to see what they have in store in the future.

Directed by The Heathen Apostles.
Director of Photography, Still Photography: Lawrence Drayton
Band footage shot by Daniel DeLeon
Makeup: Alexia Petre
Wardrobe: Nicole Loretta of Paper Moon Vintage
Henna: Kelly Jurado
Locations: Marsak Manor (thanks Nathan & Nicole) and South Bay Customs
Fool’s Gold written by Louth/Franklin, produced & mixed by Chopper Franklin at the Devil’s Doghouse, Echo Park, Ca.

© 2015 Ratchet Blade Records

Heathen Apostles Tour and Southern Gothic Video

The dates have been finalized for the Heathen Apostles UK tour. The first show is on 13 July, 2023, it will be their first one of the United Kingdom. There are 18 dates and will be built around their appearance at the Rustic Stomp Festival in Dorset, Poole on 15 July. The band will be shooting a southern gothic video for their next single from their current release Bloodgrass Vol. 3 & 4. You can get tour promotion information from Hawkeye Houlihan at hawkeyesbanjo (at) hotmail.com.

Heathen Apostles -southern gothic video Heathen Apostles UK tour:
Thurs 13th July – Cobblestones, Bridgewater, UK
Fri 14th July – The Treehouse, Frome, UK
Sat 15th July – Rustic Stomp, Dorset, UK
Sun 16th July – Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth, UK
Mon 17th July – video shoot
Tues 18th July – The Cellar Bar, Bournemouth, UK
Wed 19th July – Lexington, London, UK
Thurs 20th July – The Reindeer, Norwich, UK
Fri 21st July – Facebar, Reading, UK
Sat 22nd July – Endorset Festival, UK 2023 (afternoon set)
Sat 22nd July – Tap & Grape, Poole, UK (evening set)
Sun 23rd July – Christchurch Festival, Christchurch, UK
Mon 24th July – The Six Six Bar, Cambridge, UK
Tue 25th July – The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham, UK
Wed 26th July – The Anchor Inn Wingham, Canterbury, UK
Thurs 27th July – Prince Albert, Brighton, UK
Fri 28th July – The Plough, Torrington, UK
Sat 29th July – The Cavern, Exeter, UK
Sun 30th July – The Pig, Hastings, UK

Heathen Apostles -southern gothic video

Born of the voices of past lives and baptized in the dust bowl dirt, the Gothic Americana music of the Heathen Apostles harkens back to a bygone chapter of American history. Using contrasting influences such as Bauhaus, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and The Pogues along with Howlin’ Wolf, Loretta Lynn (the band covers her classic Fist City) and Bessie Smith, the Heathen Apostles have created a style of music that at once conjurs both angels and demons, and will enlighten a darkened soul.

Heathen Apostles in Gothic Western Art Show

The Gothic Western art show “Dead End Trail”  is opening June 3rd 6-10 PM at Copro Nason Gallery in Santa Monica, California. It will contain new paintings by Sean Cheetham, Kate Zambrano, Sonya Palencia and Jeff Nentrup. The Gothic Western gallery will feature two extraordinary oil paintings of Mather Louth and Chopper Franklin of the Gothic Western band the Heathen Apostles that was painted by Sean Cheetham. The title of the Mather painting is “There in the Ground, My Buried Heart”, and the title of the Chopper painting is “All of our Vows, in Death Did Part”, both lines from the Heathen Apostle’s song “Deadly Nightshade”.

Heathen Apostles - Gothic Western Art Sean Cheetham’s paintings have been included in numerous significant exhibitions internationally including the National Portrait Gallery in London. He has a devoted following of collectors and art students that are inspired by his work and distinctive technique. Cheetham’s selection of subjects typically in familiar urban scenes contributes a truthful and often raw spirit that makes his work distinctive and a contemporary testimony of our time.

Kate Zambrano is a self-taught artist living in California. She was born in Texas, but decided to leave at age seventeen to begin a semi-nomadic lifestyle. She enrolled in college to study psychology, but after a while, she realized that she was more into the subject than pursuing an actual career in the field.

Sonya Palencia, is a painter, illustrator, sculptor and woodcarver, whose work celebrates nature and the mystical with the romantic aesthetics of the old world. As a child, Sonya began creating art and studying the nearby wilderness, historical landmarks, and the extraordinary past of her native California.

As a Southern California native, Jeffrey Nentrup developed a love for art and nature at a young age. After years of painting digitally in the high-octane commercial art ranks and working on marquee projects for A-list clients (Dreamworks, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony, Disney, Paramount, NASA) and a top cover artist who’s artwork has been featured on dozens of novels worldwide, Jeff has returned to the immediacy of his first love, oil painting.

Heathen Apostles - Gothic Western Art

 

The Rustic Stomp Festival – Heavy Western Hoedown

Rustic Roots - Heavy Western HoedownThe Rustic Stomp, Dorset’s finest Roots Festival is bringing together a plethora of local, national and international artists to give you the finest bluegrass, heavy western hoedown, blues, swamp stomp, country-based festival, with tractors, that money can buy. Three days of music and merriment are all wrapped within the Rustic aesthetic. This year’s Rustic Stomp will also include historic vehicles and a Well Bean hub within the festival arena.This year’s festival brings together three of the Crawdaddy festival brands under one roof, as it were. The Wonky Donk stage will feature the best of hoedown, country and hillbilly music. The Dark Holler stage takes a slightly, well, darker comedic look at life and the Organford stage is a more accessible, easy listening venue.

Chopper Franklin - Heavy Western HoedownThe event opens up on a ticketed event headlined by local foot-stompers The Jimmy Hillbillies throwing down their Dorset Hoedown for the masses. Friday night features the mighty Frank from Blue Velvet from Hastings and taking the Roots scene by storm, local skiffle kings Quinn’s Quinney, as well as Burg and the Vagabond Choir and festival favourites The Curst Sons. Saturday has a real heavy weight feel to it with international superstars the Heathen Apostles featuring ex-Cramps member Chopper Franklin, headlining the event. Texas Swing outfit the Bootheel Playboys, Dead Horse Bay, a plethora of local artists on the Dungaville Stage and London’s finest banjo player and builder Flatfoot Johnny. Sunday takes a stronger turn towards the genre of Country with the amazing Sarah Vista headlining.

The Rustic Stomp Festival - Heavy Western HoedownThe history of the Rustic Stomp goes back over 10 years, when Hawkeye Houlihan and some friends put on a little festival at the Donkey Sanctuary at Home Farm, Lytchet. The aim then was to help rescue donkeys by putting on some great rustic music that people would love. Well, the donkeys are rescued now and the festival is growing, its aim to put the Dorset ‘roots’ scene on the map. The festival is also looking to grow and has moved to a new, more accessible site at Pike’s Farm, Organford. “Each year we are aiming to increase the accessibility of this type of music to a wider audience and promote the local artists that provide the backbone to the scene, as well as bring in some top-ranking national and international stars” says Hawkeye.

The Rustic Stomp is on from the evening of Thursday 13th July until Sunday 16th July and takes place at Pikes Farm, Organford, Dorset. Weekend tickets are £86.40, day tickets from £27.50.