Heartless Bastards was formed in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2003 by singer-songwriter Erika Wennerstrom. His music incorporates elements of country, blues, hard rock and garage punk. Initially, the band consisted of Erika Wennerstrom (vocals - piano - guitar), Dave Colvin (drums), Michael Weinel (guitar) and Adam McAllister (bass). However, this training took a short time. Colvin, Weinel and McAllister left and Wennerstrom reformed the band with Kevin Vaughn (drums) and Mike Lamping (bass).
In 2004, the band signed to Fat Possum Records, after Patrick Carney (of The Black Keys) presented to the label a demo featuring five songs recorded by Erika Wennerstrom in 2002. The first album, Stairs and Elevators, arrived in 2005. The following year, the trio released All This Time, an album that was well received by critics.
After All This Time, the band had another lineup change. Erika Wennerstrom and Mike Lamping, who had started a romantic relationship, break up. Consequently, Lamping and drummer Kevin Vaughn left the group. Wennerstrom moved to Austin, Texas, where he recorded Heartless Bastards' third album, The Mountain (2009), with guest musicians. However, for the tour of that record, she recruited bassist Jesse Ebaugh and Dave Colvin, the band's original drummer. Later, guitarist Mark Nathan joined the group.
In February 2012, Heartless Bastards returned with their fourth album, Arrow, which came out on the Partisan Records label. Then, in 2015, Restless Ones was released. The band returned in 2021 with A Beautiful Life.