Lord Huron is shooting for a fall release for its second album. Four of the group's members, including founder Ben Schneider, are from Michigan. (Jessica Yurasek)
Growing up spending summers in Cheboygan, Lake Huron played an important role in Ben Schneider’s childhood. That influence has carried over to his career.
Schneider is the frontman for folk rock five piece Lord Huron, which plays the Magic Stick in Detroit on Friday. Schneider grew up in Okemos and lives in Los Angeles, but he still feels the draw of Michigan and Lake Huron in particular — hence the name Lord Huron.
“I always imagined myself as the ruler of that part of the world when I was a kid,” says Schneider, on the phone earlier this month from Los Angeles.
He gave himself the regal-sounding title because of a tradition in calypso music, which he sites as a strong influence, where artists give themselves grandiose, larger-than-life names. “It’s just kind of a cool tradition,” he says.
Schneider’s now bringing the Lord Huron name wide acclaim. The group has been celebrated for its rich beauty and layered harmonies, and has been rewarded with a burgeoning profile that has included a slot on last year’s Coachella festival and performances on Kimmel and Leno.
“We’re really excited,” says Schneider. “We’ve done a lot of touring over the last year and a half, and every time we’ve gone out, it’s been different venues and bigger crowds. And that’s a really good feeling.”
Schneider started playing music in fifth grade when he picked up bass because it was the biggest, coolest, lowest — “all those superlatives,” he says — instrument he could play. He later formed a band with friends and would play shows in and around the Lansing area, at coffee shops, in churches, at house parties and in friends’ basements.
He went on to study art at University of Michigan, working in a variety of mediums, while keeping one foot in his music. After college, and after stints in New York and overseas, he worked as an artist in L.A.; his last two projects were fake history exhibits, fabricated and surreal takes on clinical natural history museum-type presentations. Still, he struggled to find his find his place in city’s art scene.
“I just wasn’t a fit in the art world,” says Schneider, son of former Lansing State Journal columnist John Schneider. “I don’t really care for the way it operates, and neither side was too happy in that agreement.”
While visiting Michigan for a friend’s wedding in May 2010, Schneider recorded three songs that wound up becoming Lord Huron’s first EP. A pair of EPs followed later that year, and after reforming with his Michigan bandmates Mark Barry (drums), Tom Renaud (guitar) and Miguel Briseno (bass), Lord Huron’s first full-length album, “Lonesome Dreams,” was released in 2012. (Guitarist Karl Kerfoot, who rounds out the group, is from Sacramento.)
The group’s world is one of Old West settings, handkerchiefs and saloons; you half think you have to blow the dust off the album before putting it on.
Schneider says he was influenced early on by the harmonies his father and uncles would sing while sitting around campfires, which is evident in the group’s rustic sound.
Lord Huron’s current tour comes as Schneider is eyeing the band’s second album. Some tracks already have been recorded, “but we’ll really dig into it when we get back,” Schneider says. The record is mostly written and “has a little bit of a rockabilly flare to it,” he says. He hopes to put it out this fall.
Schneider says he dreams of relocating to Michigan, where Lord Huron’s recognition and appreciation has grown in proportion to the group’s profile.
“It’s starting to catch on,” he says. “Last time we played Lansing, I saw a lot of people I haven’t seen in a really long time, which is very cool.”
with Night Moves
8 p.m. Friday
4140 Woodward, Detroit