If we were to concoct a subgenre of rock n’ roll called “working class rock,” then there would be wide agreement that no one does it better than American bands, ones like American Restless. These proletariat patrons today are pleased to debut the music video for their latest single “Take Me Home,” a nice little bit of rustbelt rock from these natives of Racine, Wisconsin.
Racine is very much a working-class town, and being entrenched in that environment has certainly inspired the sound and direction of the band, with their traditional American rock n’ roll sound, mixed with garage rock, and rockabilly. It’ll all come together very nicely on their debut record Rust Belt Rock N’ Roll, set for release in June via Blind Owl Records.
Tracing back the long backstory behind “Take Me Home” for us is guitarist Noah Lekas, who says:
“It’s about 1,500 miles from Racine, Wisconsin to Missoula, Montana. That particular stretch of America was the backdrop for a lot of my early writing. Whether you take 1-94 or 1-90, the breadth of the plains inspires the kind of questions that take at least 600 miles to work through, if ever.
“On one particular drive, after about the 800th solo mile, I got a line from this old folk song stuck in my head, ‘I’m 900 miles from my home, and I hate to hear that lonesome whistle blow.’ Over the next 100 miles or so, that turned into the first sketch of ‘Take Me Home.’ Interestingly, that same drive also yielded the poem ‘Livin’ Interstate Blues’ from my book Saturday Night Sage.
“In the pre-smartphone days, I would jot down as many ideas as I could, one gas stop at a time. ‘Take Me Home’ took years to find its way into the right melody, (bassist) Ian (Grant) really helped shape this one into what you hear today, and our producer Jeremiah Zimmerman dialed in the final touches. As freewheeling as the folk songs that I was living at the time, this song is a special one for us, and definitely one of my favourite American Restless tunes.”
Aside from Lekas and Grant, the trio is completed by Reverend Horton Heat alumni Arjuna “RJ” Contrera. While Rust Belt Rock N’ Roll is their proper debut full-length, it comes 15 years since the band actually formed. It was around that time that the great financial crisis arrived, and with very little in the way of job prospects, Lekas began writing songs while spending the winter in Nashville. It actually got to the point where the band was performing live, playing roughly 50 concerts in the summer of 2009, and then the three men decided to go their own ways and put American Restless on ice.
The pandemic and associated lockdowns opened up an opportunity to wipe the dust off this project. With few options for writing and recording available, and no prospects of touring, these three men began to rekindle the magic they started to unlock so many years prior but never fully pursued. Rust Belt Rock N’ Roll will be ten fast-moving songs, clocking in at a total of 28 minutes, and highly gratifying for any fan of traditional American rock. It’s a shame they don’t make that much music like this anymore, but it’s reassuring that we have some bands like American Restless who are keeping that rogue character and spirit alive.
Rust Belt Rock N’ Roll Track Listing:
1. King Bee
2. Cadillac Head
3. Western Wind
4. Take Me Home
5. Walk Out The Door
6. Dead River
7. Rolling Thunder
8. Sleep For The Suffering
9. The Spark
05/11 – Reggie’s Live, Chicago, IL
05/12 – Shank Hall, Milwaukee WI
05/13 – Billy’s Lounge, Grand Rapids, MI