Beloved readers, lean in, it’s time for a chat. Look deep inside your musical hearts, and take notice: if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool rock n’ roller like yours truly, you’ll notice, upon closer inspection, that there’s a large hole with nothing to occupy it, one that is virtually begging for fuzzed-out, wall-banging, stank face-inducing, unsynthesized rock. If that’s you, and I bet it is, look no further, because there’s a cure for what ails you. Meet Winstons—the band, not the cigarettes, although, much like the cigarettes, the band is smoking hot and potentially hazardous to your health (check out this video, and you’ll see what I mean). Did it hurt when they fell from heaven? Who knows, but here’s the skinny:
Lou Nutting and Ben Brock Wilkes have lived parallel lives that destined their fateful paths to cross. “We both moved to New York City chasing ladies,” admits drummer Wilkes, who, like his guitar-shredding bandmate Nutting, relocated from Charlottesville, Virginia. The pair didn’t meet, however, until they were both residing in the Big Apple. “Back in 2013, I was working the door at a venue called Baby’s All Right, and Lou was bartending,” Wilkes continues. “We were both like, ‘Where are you from? Whoa!’ and ‘What do you play? Whoa!’” he laughs. “We played a show after that, and kept playing together. It just worked.”
“We never really felt the need to add anybody,” he says of their decision to remain a duo. “I’d started a band earlier with three other guys for a minute, and everybody in New York is so damn busy, coordinating everyone’s schedules was impossible,” explains Nutting. “It’s so much easier to only have one other person involved.” “It wasn’t necessarily a conceptual choice, but it’s how we like it,” Wilkes interjects. “The cool part is, we have way more freedom when we’re playing. We talk about it all the time—one of us can throw the other a curveball in the middle of a song to shake things up, and it’s fun to react, improvise, and see where it might go.”
Together, they’ve fused their respective backgrounds—Nutting, originally a banjo picker with a country and blues history, and Wilkes, who was all about the jazz—to create a gut-wrenching and garage-busting blend of soulful, howling, electrified blues. “There’s a freedom in the blues; it’s nice to be loose and heavy with it.” Wilkes says of their dynamic sound. “The reason that we know each other is because of chasing love and that’s what our songs are all about.” The duo recently released a 7” double-sided single featuring songs “Without You” and “Enough,” and they promise there is more music on the way. “We’re going into the studio soon to record your debut full length, in the basement of the oldest cast iron building in the world, in the financial district of Manhattan,” Nutting says. “It’s a subterranean hole a block away from that golden bull on Wall Street. We’re going to hide under there and try to make some heavy roots music,” says Wilkes with a laugh.
Last year, Winstons toured with Grand Jury label mate Esme Patterson, and did a run of dates with Nashville-based rocker Ron Gallo; Wilkes says the band is definitely gearing up to hit the road this spring, to spread their brand of rootsy rock to the eager masses. “We’ve been doing some short east coast runs to find fans in little pockets around,” he says. “We’re going to start a grassroots uprising.”