The Lone Bellow makes its Orange Peel debut

WHAT WRITERS BLOCK? Produced by The National's Aaron Dessner, The Lone Bellow's Then Came the Morning debuted in January, but Zach Williams, right, estimates that the Brooklyn trio already has 20 new songs ready for a follow-up album. Photo by Steven Sebring

During The Lone Bellow’s fall 2014 tour, the band was faced with a dilemma. The Brooklyn-based folk-rock trio could play songs from its recently wrapped, but yet-to-be-released, album Then Came the Morning or focus on the band’s self-titled debut, which many audiences had yet to hear. Songwriter Zach Williams was in favor of the former, but guitarist Brian Elmquist and mandolin and bass player Kanene Pipkin insisted on the latter.

How did it turn out?

“I think I won,” Williams says with a playful sense of accomplishment. “I told them, ‘A song is a song, and I’m sick of playing these old songs. I want to play the new songs.’ They said, ‘Let’s play these four old songs,’ and I was like ‘OK.’ It was way more dramatic at the time. Choosing set lists is always a lot of conflict. Everyone’s so passionate about the songs, which is great — it’s good conflict.”

Less than eight months after the release of the band’s acclaimed Aaron Dessner-produced album, The Lone Bellow plays Sunday, Sept. 20, at The Orange Peel and, to some extent, is in a similar position. Though Williams says the group won’t be trying out any “brand-spanking new songs,” he estimates the musicians have around 20 completed compositions at the moment, with more on the way, which they’ll soon start whittling down for the next release.

“In this day and age, you’ve got to write all the time. With Spotify and everything, you can’t be like, ‘We put out a new record — it’ll sell, we’ll make money.’ They don’t. People don’t buy records anymore,” Williams says. “I was talking to Taylor [Goldsmith] from Dawes about this. He’s like, ‘Yeah, we have to be more prolific and we’ll probably be more happy because of it.’ I told him, ‘I think you’re right. We get to keep writing songs and we have to do it.’”

A native of the Atlanta suburb of Acworth, Williams is excited to set foot in The Orange Peel for the first time. He’s long wanted to play the venue, but during the brief time when he lived close enough to even just attend a show, The Orange Peel was still few years away from opening. Not wanting to stay at home the summer of his junior year, the then-17-year-old Williams lived in a tent at a youth camp in Andrews. His job was to trim weeds in the woods before campers arrived. Five years later, he started playing music, and now his Asheville wish is about to come true.

WHO: The Lone Bellow
WHERE: The Orange Peel, theorangepeel.net
WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 20, at 9 p.m. $20 advance/$22 at the door

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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for ashevillemovies.com and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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