THE WILD FAMILY
- 2012 -
HAVE A BEER WITH THE WILD FAMILY
After learning and playing music together for years as kids growing up in Genoa, Ill., brothers Jake and Zach Schweitzer have tackled multiple instruments, different styles of playing and managed to find extended-family members in Graham Young [vocals, guitar] and Kevin Koreman [drums] who complete the group's effortless melodic folk DNA.
Their presence in the Chicago music scene is already visible, playing some of the city's best venues including Schubas, Metro, SPACE, Subterranean and Old Town School of Folk Music; landing features in The Deli Magazine (Artist of the Month Runner-Up); and opening for bands like Wake Owl and The Daredevil Christopher Wright. Now, The Wild Family is heading into the studio to record their first EP, set to release by winter 2013.
We caught up with Jake, Graham, Zach and Kevin over some PBRs to talk about their presence in the Chicago music scene and their upcoming gig at The Beat Kitchen.
Drink of Choice: PBR
Kristen from A Beer with the Band: Where does The Wild Family story begin?
Jake from The Wild Family: Me and Zach are brothers, so we’ve been playing together for a long time. Throughout high school we played in various bands that were kind of shitty. We were definitely in some shitty cover bands. And then I went to Columbia College in Chicago and Graham went there as well—he’s originally from Michigan—and we met at orientation. We eventually just started playing together because we both liked playing. Eventually we brought Zach in and practiced around. We didn’t really plan on doing that much, but that’s kind of how it started.
Kristen: So, the plan was never really to form a band?
Jake: I guess it was. But right at the beginning, we just wanted to get together and play some songs.
Kristen: How long would you say you’ve officially been a group?
Graham from The Wild Family: About a year.
Jake: Probably officially since last September.
Kristen: Let’s talk a little bit about your creative process. What’s the method behind the madness? Or is there a method?
Graham: Usually the songs start out with either Jake or myself coming up with the bare bones of an idea. I usually come up with a full song and then we play it together, come up with different parts, and put together all these different instruments.
Jake: Usually he’ll bring a song to the table or I’ll bring a song to the table—some are further along than others—and then we work it out together.
Kristen: Do you consider yourself writers? Would you say lyrics come first for you guys?
Graham: No, usually it’s at the same time. I’ll get a bare chord progression down and then lyrics.
Jake: But he’s definitely the songwriter in the group.
Graham: I’m more a songwriter than just a player.
Kristen: Where do you get your inspiration from, Graham?
Jake: Ryan Adams.
Graham: I don’t know. Most of my songs are about ladies and heartbreaking situations I suppose.
Kristen: I feel like that’s where a lot of inspiration comes from. Heartbreak is good for creativity. Where can people find your music online?
Zach from The Wild Family: Material-wise, we don’t have that much out there. All we really have is that a recorded version of “Empty Promises” and maybe three other songs, and that’s all from a live show that we played back in February where the sound guy just recorded it and gave it to us.
Kevin from The Wild Family: And then we have two other tracks that we self-recorded. I don’t know if it’s on Bandcamp, but on that CD we have “Grows Apart,” which we recorded ourselves with a friend of ours and also “When I’m Gone.”
Zach: We’ve done some random recordings, but we don’t have that much out there. We’ve got our Facebook page and our Bandcamp, which is basically how we communicate to our audience. And as far as music goes, just that live EP and one or two recorded songs. We’ve also got some live videos that we did over the summer that are on YouTube.
Graham: Yeah, the first videos we did were just songs we played live and our friend grabbed a camera, we grabbed a guitar and we played.
Kevin: They impressed me enough to join the band.
Kristen: So, I’m guessing there are plans for an upcoming EP then.
Jake: Yeah, we’re actually working on getting into the studio as soon as possible at this point to record a five-song EP. We probably don’t have enough material to put out an LP and we probably don’t want to do that anyway.
Graham: It would be impractical.
Jake: Yeah, so we’ll do five songs somewhere in a studio. We want to shoot for the holiday season to release it.
Zach: We’ll do the recording here in Chicago soon and then there’s the whole process of pressing and mixing and mastering.
Kevin: And then we’ll have something to show for the band moving forward. We have a good fan base right now and we’re playing a lot of shows.
Jake: But we don’t have anything to give to them.
Zach: Everyone’s like, “Oh, you guys have any music?” and we’re like, “No, sorry….”
Kristen: It’s pretty great though that you have a following without anything out there. What are some venues that you’ve played?
Jake: We’ve played Evanston SPACE…That was actually where our first show was. We got to play with this awesome band called The Daredevil Christopher Wright.
Graham: That spoiled us.
Jake: Yeah, that did spoil us. Then we played some bars in Lincoln Park and we’ve played Old Town School of Folk Music.
Graham: And Schubas.
Jake: We really like Schubas. Schubas was great. We opened for a group called Lily & Madeleine, a sister duo from Indiana.
Zach: It was a fun show to play. Two young girls.
Jake: That sounds creepy.
Zach: No, but it was impressive.
Kristen: Aren’t they under 20?
Graham: Yeah, one was around 16 and one was around 18.
Zach: Yeah, and they had a Rhodes.
Jake: They had a sweet Rhodes keyboard. And then we just played the Metro which was a lot of fun.
Kevin: That was the crowning achievement as of yet…the Metro.
Graham: And that was with a bunch of local Chicago bands. Sunjacket played...don't know if you're familiar with them.
Kristen: Yeah, I interviewed them actually. They’re awesome.
Jake: Yeah, we played with Sunjacket, Volcanoes Make Islands, Moxie Motive…
Kristen: What’s your favorite show you’ve seen to date? It doesn’t have to be in Chicago.
Zach: Mine was seeing Battles at The Vic.
Graham: Probably some Local Natives Show or seeing Red Hot Chili Peppers last year at Lollapalooza. That was pretty amazing. I was like second row.
Jake: Either Arcade Fire at Lollapalooza in 2010 or Fleet Foxes.
Zach: Fleet Foxes at Pitchfork was insane.
Kristen: So, it sounds like you go to festivals a lot.
Kevin: I’ve actually never been to one. We almost played one, but…
Kristen: You’ve gotta go. A lot of people have opinions about the festival scene, so I’m wondering what you think.
Jake: It’s really expensive…
Zach: But as a band it’s a great way to reach a ton of people.
Graham: And a great way to see a ton of bands, too.
Zach: I try to go to Pitchfork every year at least one day because it’s cheap enough to do. And I always find a lot of bands that I didn’t know I wanted to see. But I didn’t go this year. I didn’t think the Pitchfork lineup was that good. It would have been cool to see Belle & Sebastian, but there weren’t enough other bands to make it worth it.
Kristen: Who else are some musical inspirations?
Jake: Leonard Cohen.
Kevin: Bob Dylan.
Jake: Who do you like, Graham?
Graham: I like Ryan Adams.
Kristen: I knew that was coming.
Graham: Yeah, but I like alt-country. Kind of rootsy music.
Jake: Yeah, most of your songs have a rootsy feel.
Zach:Yeah, that’s the Graham-side of the band. A lot of Jake's songs tend to go a direction that not even we can comprehend.
Jake: I wouldn’t say that…I’m leaving the band. [laughs]
Kevin: You have a lot more emotionally intense songs, whereas Graham’s songs are more raw. Yours have these really energetic and intense moments; Graham’s are a little more laid back.
Kristen: That’s kind of a cool dichotomy then.
Zach: It’s a nice balance, and since we all work on the songs together, you get pieces of each part.
Kristen: What’s the biggest fight you’ve gotten into as a band? I’ve never asked this question before. Just go with it.
Jake: We’re all kind of pushovers.
Zach: We don’t really fight.
Jake: The worst is probably just me bitching everyone out all the time.
Kristen: What are you listening to now?
Graham: I just downloaded a bunch of Gram Parsons records. He was a crazy dude. His friends stole his body when he was 26. He wanted to be cremated at Joshua Tree [National Park], but his dad had a funeral set in New Orleans and didn’t invite any of his friends or music people, so two of his friends stole his body at LAX and drove it to Joshua Tree and burned it. And the cops caught them, but at that time—it was 1970 or something—it wasn’t a serious crime to steal a dead body. They got fined $750 for the coffin. Total.
Jake: Those guys are heroes. I’d do that for you, Graham.
Kristen: True friendship. Anyone else? What are the rest of you listening to?
Kevin: I took this weird backwards turn into my youth. I used to be a big metal head. I had long hair and listened to Norwegian black metal. And recently I’ve just been listening to a ton of that. I found this great nostalgic love for it.
Graham: Ryan Adams loves that shit.
Kevin: I’ve been listening to that coupled with ambient drone music. That’s been my studying and reading music.
Kristen: I wouldn’t peg you as someone who had long hair.
Kevin: You should see my driver’s license picture.
Jake: We all had long hair in middle school and high school. There was also a period in high school where I was obsessed with “Fool In The Rain,” that Led Zeppelin song. I listened to it over and over.
Zach: I don’t think that’s passed. Every party we go to, you’ll have your iPod plugged in and you ask me what to play next and I’m like, “Not ‘Fool In The Rain,’” and you’re like, “What, dude!? I have it queued up.”
Kristen: It’s not a bad thing to have a party “go-to.” One of our staple questions is what is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Zach: Give up.
Kevin: I think mine was work hard for what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life, which is music for me. This is all I do and I don’t really consider it work. I’m tired at night….
Zach: You work other jobs, too. That’s probably why you’re tired.
Graham: No one said this to me, but I’ve always liked that quote from Little Miss Sunshine. One of the main characters is getting fed up and he’s like, “Do what you love and you fuck the rest.”
Jake: That’s the band motto from now on.
Zach: I don’t think that can be our motto because we have to work really hard at all the other shit.
Kristen: I feel like it’s like that with anything creative. You always have to have something else that you’re doing to supplement your creative endeavor.
Zach: Yeah, and especially for us at this point. We don’t even have anything to sell. We don’t make any money on any shows. Except for a wedding we played, which was so fun. If we got into the wedding business, we could make bank.
Jake: I’m telling you…you do three weddings every couple of months.
Kevin: That’s when women are most vulnerable. You steal everything out of their bank account and they’re like, “Whatever! It’s my special day!”
Zach: You’re about to get married and spend the rest of your life together. Which is why you should spend all the money you have RIGHT NOW! You see those stupid…bride dresses….
Kristen: Wedding dresses?
Zach: No, no, the T.V. show…"Say Yes to the Dress.” People walk in and they’re like, “My spending limit on my dress is $8,000 dollars.” And then the guy sells them a $15,000 dress.
Jake: That’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten: “Say Yes to the Dress.”
Kristen: Another staple question. What is the least rock-‘n’-roll thing you’ve done in the past year?
Jake: Work a job.
Kevin: Definitely working at Banana Republic.
Jake: Working a job at Forever Yogurt….Actually, I take that back. It’s so rock-‘n’-roll to work at Forever Yogurt.
Kristen: So many toppings. What’s your favorite song to play live?
Graham: Mine is probably “Gold” or “When Morning Comes.” Every time we play “When Morning Comes” I try my hardest to break the strings on my guitar.
Jake: I’d probably say “Gold” or “White Shirt.”
Zach: “White Shirt” is a good one because the crowd is always so into it.
Jake: It’s definitely a fan favorite…But really, all that constitutes a fan favorite is having mom in the front screaming and dancing. That’s all that really matters.
Zach: But if people know one of our songs, it’s usually “White Shirt.”
Kristen: What upcoming shows do you have?
Jake: We have two coming up, but we’re booking less shows right now just because we have to get in the studio. We have one on October 2 at Music Garage for GrammyU. The Plain White T's are headlining that one, and on October 3rd we’re playing The Beat Kitchen.
Zach: We play local shows a lot, so it can be hard to get fans to come out to two shows in a row, especially back to back.
Jake: We’re headlining at The Beat Kitchen though. We got contacted by a band coming into town, so it will be a good show.