A rock band from rural Stark County is touring the Midwest after releasing its latest album. For this week’s Shuffle, WKSU contributor Brittany Nader talked with the lead singer of White Buffalo Woman, Evan Rutledge, about the small-town band from Minerva that’s building a following.
Most bands make their debuts in front of a live audience. White Buffalo Woman’s first chords fell on dead ears.
“We wrote the majority of our first album in the basement of a funeral home,” Rutledge said.
It was a family-run funeral home, owned by drummer Joe Wales’ parents. The nascent band jammed and skateboarded in the parking lot between calling hours and funeral services. At least one song on that first album, titled “Bones,” was directly inspired by the group’s macabre practice space.
“We don’t play that one anymore,” Rutledge laughed.
A Donovan cover lands a deal
The band’s first live show — in front of a living audience — was in Nashville, Tenn. At that point, the band had only been together for a couple months. They played several covers, including a version of psychedelic rocker Donovan’s ‘60s hit, “Season of the Witch.” A fledgling record label based out of North Carolina approached the group and asked if they would be the label’s debut record.
The band released an EP and a single before the full album came out on Grimtale Records in 2012. The whole process took about three years.
For their latest album, called Foolish Hearts, White Buffalo Woman decided they’d go straight to the full album release. It helped that at the time, they had already finished three songs. According to Rutledge, he and his band mates wanted to force themselves to finish the whole project within a year.
White Buffalo Woman is headed for another milestone as it prepares to embark on its first extended tour. Over two weeks, the band is planning to make stops in Indianapolis, Grand Rapids, Lexington, Louisville, Nashville and Atlanta.
“We’re pretty excited to get out there and meet some new people,” Rutledge said.
But there’s no place like home, where the band enjoys cheap rent and cheap practice space to craft their next album.
“We’ll always be the band from Minerva, Ohio.”
In addition to Rutledge, the band consists of Joe Wales on drums, Adam Murphy and Devin Bezeredi on guitar and Alex Leggett on bass. Their next local show is April 14 at Buzzbin in Canton.