- September 2016 -
HAVE A BEER WITH WILD CHILD
Seven-piece Austin-based band Wild Child has built a sprawling grassroots following on the strength of their high-spirited live shows and three well-received records. 2011’s ‘Pillow Talk’ notched four no. 1 singles on Hype Machine, spurred on by music bloggers who fell early and hard for the quirky group. 2013’s ‘The Runaround’ upped the ante, making best-of lists and garnering glowing reviews and write-ups from NPR, Paste, Pop Matters, and many others. Wild Child’s third album ‘Fools’—out now via Dualtone Records – is an ambitious collection of lush pop that are entrenched with sour truths and sweet melodies. And in the five years since their formation, the band has gone from playing shows for nine people to selling out venues across North America and Europe.
Not bad for an indie outfit who, up until now, has been thriving without radio spins or record label muscle. And it all started when two Texas kids—Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins—discovered they wrote hauntingly good songs together.
We chatted with Kelsey and Alexander pre-show about life on the road, gas station guilty pleasures, and Kelsey’s backstage run-in with Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips.
Drinks of Choice: Cider; PBR; Whiskey
The Gig: Wild Child with Susto // Sept. 17, 2016 // Lincoln Hall
Kristen: OK, so Kelsey, you just ordered a cider. Is that your drink of choice?
Kelsey: It’s whiskey actually.
Kristen: I guess it’s pre-show, so there’s a time and place for everything.
Alexander: There are different times of day and night that I have different drinks...I could really dissect my whole day for you.
Kristen: Please do.
Alexander: In the morning it's...
Kelsey: Bloody Marys.
Alexander: Bloody Marys for sure. Spicy with all the stuff.
Kelsey: Everything. All of it.
Kristen: Is there a place in Austin that's your go-to for Bloody Marys?
Kelsey: Frank’s. It's a hot dog joint. Their bacon Bloody Marys are my favorite...
Alexander: They're known for their bacon-infused vodka Bloody Mary. It's almost too much. They have this big, thick, hearty cold piece of bacon, they put in cheese and pickles, olives…
Kristen: Basically it’s a meal...
Alexander: It's usually like 10 bucks, but you have one or two of those and you're not hungry after. You're in a good place.
Kelsey: And you're no longer hungover.
Alexander: Yeah, so that's....morning.
Kristen: OK, so that's your casual breakfast. What about lunch?
Kelsey: Lunch—I'm good.
Alexander: Yeah. Good for lunch. You've got to choose what you're day's going to be like if you're picking booze at lunch. If I've had a couple Bloody Marys in the morning, that's kind of the tipping point—I can either stop there and have a productive day, or keep going. And if I keep going...
Kelsey: I’ll get some beers or ciders or wine at lunch.
Alexander: Probably some Dos Equis with some limes.
Kelsey: Calimocho. You like the wine-and-coke combo.
Kristen: I've actually never had that.
Alexander: It's great. We'll make you one before you leave. It's great because it doesn't make you fucked up. It's refreshing...it's delicious. But I think it's semi-acquired taste. Of course you find your ratio.
Kelsey: If you care about wine at all you won't like it.
Alexander: It's almost like a Sangria.
Kelsey: A poor man’s Sangria.
Alexander: OK, then nighttime...I've been into Red Bull vodkas for a long time. I used to not like admitting it, but now I don't give a fuck anymore. I like it, I think it's great.
Kristen: Keeps you awake?
Kelsey: My problem is it gives me way too much power. I drink them and then I just become so strong and so powerful, and I'm also getting drunk but I don't recognize it. I'm just becoming this force that no one can control—that I can't even control.
Kristen: Happens to the best of us.
Alexander: Yeah, and then we all like whiskey. Our rider is...
Kelsey: ...Everything. Our rider is vodka, whiskey, red wine, and beer, with Red Bulls and Coke mixed in.
Alexander: We all like drinking.
Kristen: That makes sense. There are a lot of you and everyone's got different tastes right?
Alexander: Great first question. I could talk about that for hours.
Kristen: You mentioned in your bio that onstage, it sometimes feels like “family therapy with a lot of dancing.” So, my question is, if you actually had to pin it down, who would be what member of the family in real life?
Alexander: Kelsey is definitely the mom.
Kelsey: Sadie is definitely little sis. Our tour manager is a big Jew dad right now. And then we have a bunch of crazy uncles.
Kristen: Crazy uncles? Would you then be a crazy uncle, Alex?
Alexander: I think so.
Kelsey: You're definitely the crazy uncle. You’re my brother.
Alexander: Yeah. I'm definitely not a dad figure anyway. I hate confrontation.
Kristen: Do dads like confrontation?
Alexander: Yeah, my dad doesn't I guess either. I'm trying to think of what my role would be in anything. I guess I'm a pretty easy going dude.
Kristen: I feel like that's middle child then. No?
Kelsey: Nah. Middle children sometimes throw tantrums because they're not the oldest and they're not the youngest. They're like, "Look at me. Look at me."
Alexander: Yeah, I’m not like that. In a weird way, I need a lot of the day to be in my world. Then, when I'm ready to join the party I like to become the leader.
Kelsey: It’s like...fun uncle's coming over. He gets in and everybody's like, "Oh, come here. Tell me a story, tell me the joke."
Alexander: Right because I am so...funny.
Kristen: Yeah, and he’s ready to let loose because he spent all day alone in his den.
Alexander: In his shitty apartment.
Kristen: That's me too, though. Total introvert. If you guys had to pick whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, which would you lean more towards?
Alexander: I know I'm definitely both.
Kelsey: I'm both...a straight-up split. I feel like we had to learn a lot about how to be more extroverted by being onstage. We had to get better at talking to people, and being in front of people and being outgoing.
Alexander: Yeah, I love both sides of it.
Kelsey: I love being alone.
Alexander: I don't understand extroverts. I don't know how extrovert are always “on.”
Kristen: I don't get energy from being around people. I'm exhausted after that.
Kelsey: I don't like festivals or crowded bars, which is pretty much where we go everyday.
Alexander: I'm still both, I need both too.
Kristen: Let's say after tour, you get home, and aside from sleeping, what’s the first thing you do?
Kelsey: I clean my whole house. I clean everything. I do all the laundry, I take like 10 showers.
Kristen: Are we talking like scrubbing the floors...deep cleaning?
Kelsey: I'm talking like deep clean everything. I'm OCD about it. Once you've been living in a car with 8 people for that long, just throwing your shit and your trash all over the ground and everyone smells, and you're sweaty every night...I get home and I just want everything sterilized. And dark. And cold. And I don't want to look at anyone or talk to anyone. We don't ever talk for a while after tour.
Alexander: I like to play golf.
Kelsey: Yeah, Alexander plays golf. Sometimes we'll have a month-long break and we won't talk the whole time. We'll write songs over email.
Alexander: I think it's great that way. A lot of bands go home and live together. That works for some people. It just doesn't work for us. We're all such different people. We all have different lives and different friends.
Kelsey: I feel like it's a surprise when we run into each other at home. I don't go out—ever. I stay in the part of town where I live. Some of the dudes will hang out. Sadie and I will see each other sometimes at a random yoga class. If I run into Alexander, it's always like, "Whoa." It’s like running into your teacher outside of school.
Kristen: Remember that? When you’re a kid and you see your teacher and it’s like…”Wait, you’re a real person?”
Alexander: “You don't live in your room at school?”
Kelsey: “You're using coupons?”
Kristen: You guys didn’t go to elementary school together, right? You met later on?
Alexander: We met right when the band started—about six years ago when we were both playing for a different band. We wrote some songs and decided to give it a go. The old band was a group of friends...My cousin was in it for a long time, my old drummer was a mutual friend. Sadie is our friend’s little sister. Now it's...
Kristen: A rotating cast?
Alexander: Yeah, we have a drummer and a bass player that live in New York right now.
Kelsey: The bass and drums we keep kind of changing up...Like, let’s try the New York vibe, let’s try our hometown vibe...
Kristen: Does that make you nervous?
Kelsey: Yea, especially when you don't practice. We're always like, "I wonder what this is going to be like?"
Alexander: 99% of people that come to shows don't know the difference. They're there to see us to have a good time onstage. For the most part, no matter what, they're like, "That was great." We're not virtuoso musicians, so they're not watching us for our level of skill. It's about having fun.
Kelsey: Yeah...I once heard a fan say that we just take these bad situations and sad love songs, and turn the whole thing into a big sweaty dance party. As long as we're doing that, as long as we're having a good time and acting ridiculous—what we do best—people don't really notice or care if there slight differences in sound.
Kristen: What's the most ridiculous thing that has happened on this tour? Or maybe over the past two years?
Kelsey: The one that comes to mind was a Valentine’s Day show in Eugene, Oregon, and I was not feeling it. I was fresh out of a five-year relationship. It was weird, and I was like, “I don't want to play this. I don't want to sing all these songs about you, right now.” Alexander took it on himself to make us all laugh the whole time to get me through the show. The first thing he did was get this huge roll tape, the gaffer tape from the sound guys, and he was just like, "Hey everyone. Let's see how long this tape is." We had the whole crowd unroll it—300 feet of tape.
Kristen: Was the sound guy mad about the tape?
Kelsey: Yeah. Then we made everyone slow dance, and touch each other’s butts. We all switched instruments for a couple of songs, and we don't play each other's instruments. It just became the goofiest thing ever.
Kristen: It sounds amazing.
Kelsey: It was amazing. It definitely wasn't good, but that was the greatest example of ridiculousness on a tour. I was really drunk. We played horribly. We were all just silly. I remember meeting people that were at that show at another, later show in the same town when we came back. They all had Wild Child tattoos. After that show, they got the “WC” on that sternums and were saying, “That show was so amazing!”
Kristen: That’s a big move.
Kelsey: Yeah, tattoos. I felt like our second show was a lot tamer, and I said, “I’m sorry we didn’t give as much as we did last time…”
Kristen: Were you like, "Sorry...Are you regretting those tattoos now?” If you guys had to agree on a movie to watch in the van, what would it be?
Kelsey: Waiting for Guffman.
Kristen: That was a fast response. Have you been asked that before?
Kelsey: No, it's just become our movie. We've watched it nine times this week.
Kristen: I’ve actually never seen it.
Kelsey: I hadn't either and now it's my favorite movie of all time. Alexander told me if I watched it that it would become my favorite. We've been recreating a lot of the scenes and pretty much everything we say now is a quote from the movie. On the drive home the other night, we plugged the computer into the car and just listened to the whole movie without anything on screen. It's interesting how that changes when you can't see the visuals, but you're listening. Christopher Guest movies are awesome because they’re mostly just interviews with the main characters and stuff. So you could really listen to the dialogue all day.
Kristen: Is there anything particular you do in the van other than 'listen to movies'?
Alexander: There are usually 20 minutes where we all kind of chat and joke around with each other. Then it’s a lot of sleeping, a lot of headphones in. Our trombone player has a full-time job that lets him be on the road. He's a graphic designer. He's always working. It's kind of radio silence
Kelsey: We do podcasts sometimes. I do a lot of driving, but I like to drive.
Kristen: I was going to say, is there one person that always gets stuck driving? But in your case you enjoy it.
Kelsey: I enjoy it. I like doing something. I like listening to podcasts. In fact, in our old tour van, our GPS was broken, but it would play movies, so it would play movies right next to the steering wheel while I drove. I'd get super caffeinated, take Adderall and whatever, for those all-night drives. Everyone passed out in the back and I would just play tear-jerker after tear-jerker, and get super emotional driving until the sun came up. You know, have a Leonardo DiCaprio marathon: What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Basketball Diaries, Titanic...And everyone would wake up and I'd just be pale and shaking and sobbing. I love that. Those are my favorite drives.
Kristen: Yeah, I like long drives.
Kelsey: And sometimes your co-pilot will stay up all night with you and talk to you. By hour 9 or 10, when everyone's been quiet for so long and it's dark, the things you start to talk about are extra weird.
Kristen: What is the weirdest convo that you’ve had?
Alexander: That's impossible to say. We get really deep.
Kelsey: Real deep.
Alexander: About life and emotions. I mean, important shit...
Kelsey: You start with family relationships, friends, then you get down to like sex, and horrible things have happened to you, and your relationship with your dad...
Alexander: It's like bonding time.
Kelsey: Yeah it's bonding time. By the morning you and the co-pilot are kind of like, "Just don't talk to me anymore." You don’t look at each other in the eyes directly for a while, just like, "We need to chill out."
Kristen: I want to be a fly on the wall for those convos.
Alexander: Yeah, sometimes I feel like I am when I’m in the back.
Kristen: You pretend you’re sleeping but you're actually listening?
Kelsey: We've cycled through so many bandmates. Every once in awhile I’ve gotten some crazies up front with me, and I enjoyed it because they would say the weirdest shit. I would just be like, "Whoa, dude."
Kristen: I feel like I attract the crazies sometimes. Do you feel that way?
Alexander: Especially in this business. Some of the people you meet or talk to are like fucking weird.
Kristen: Let's say you're going to the gas station, what's your guilty gas station buy?
Kelsey: Gummies. Lifesaver Gummies. I put them all over my fingers and just go nuts. It kills like a good 17 minutes time in the van. Exactly 17 minutes. I’ve timed it.
Alexander: I feel like we all get pretty excited about Pilot gas station soup.
Kelsey: We go to a Pilot gas station. We all have our favorite...Allie loves them because they sell organic Rockstar energy drinks and organic gummy bears. Those are my favorite. The boys like Pilots because they have soups.
Alexander: They're pretty good soups.
Kristen: You guys actually have relatively healthy choices. I was expecting you to say 10 bags of Doritos, donuts and hot dogs.
Alexander: I used to get a bunch of nachos after shows. They were good but there was a lot of guilt involved. And then sometimes you find piles of nachos under your seat in the morning.
Kelsey: Just piles of nachos. The worst part is bottles of liquid that you know aren't water that you find when you're cleaning out the van later.
Alexander: I pee in bottles.
Kelsey: That's what the 9-hour drives that I'm driving do to people...Alexander usually occupies what we call “The Apartment” in our old van, which is essentially the trunk. It's this empty space where you lay out some yoga mats, some pillows and some blankets.
Alexander: Yeah, sometimes I’ve had a bottle of wine and I don't want to stop every 45 minutes to pee, so I just pee in water bottles.
Kristen: Halloween is coming up. At the moment, what costume at this moment would you be?
Kelsey: I want to be Catherine O'Hara. I already have the red hair dye. I have all the clothes at home. I have a windbreaker suit. Last year I was Alexander and that was tight.
Alexander: That was great.
Kelsey: I didn't tell him either. I told everyone else in the band. I had a ghost sheet over me with eye holes, and I was like, "I'm going to be a ghost." Then right before we started the first song onstage, I took the sheet off and looked over at him. I had a mustache and the hair...and everything.
Kelsey: This was the beginning of Wild Child.
Kristen: Do you ever wonder what you would look like without the mustache?
Alexander: I don't even like it. I'm going to get rid of it. I really want a beard, but I can’t grow one.
Kristen: Not even a 5 o'clock shadow?
Kelsey: You have the strongest goatee and mustache game.
Alexander: I tried to grow a beard a year ago, and it was just like a little bit over here [points to his face]. I grew it out and it was just a fucking goatee.
Kelsey: We posted a picture on Instagram with his new goatee and all the comments were just like, "What are you doing? Where's the mustache? What are you doing, Alexander?"
Alexander: I didn't want a goatee. I kept trimming it. I was like, “Maybe I can get this longer.” I think I’ll stick with the mustache.
Kristen: It’s a good look. Last question: What’s the least rock-’n’-roll thing you’ve done in the past week, month, or year?
Alexander: The past week we were at the 9:30 Club in D.C.and I turned around and ate shit on the monitors. I hit my face in front of like...a thousand people.
Kelsey: In his defense, it was the most perfectly timed fall. Right after the song they cut all the lights, and that’s when he tripped over the monitors. Everyone was clapping, so I’m pretty sure no one heard it or saw it.
Alexander: People saw it.
Kelsey: It was best-case scenario. It could have been fully lit and quiet. It could have been worse.
Alexander: It hurt so bad. It was so uncool.
Kelsey: The least un-rock-’n’-roll moment I remember most was backstage at a festival in San Antonio, Texas. Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips had loaded in and they were about to play. I was in a ridiculous state...I was pretty drunk and it was the last show of the tour. A dude I was dating was there, and he lost a bet, so he was wearing my bra as a shirt. I was standing next to him very drunk. I had lost my phone, and my dad walked up to me. The guy was trying to figure out how I could get ahold of him without my phone. I was like, "Oh, I have this stick of deodorant and a Sharpie. I'll write my dad’s number on this stick of deodorant.” I was standing there with this dude wearing a bra, writing my dad’s number on a stick of deodorant, and Wayne Coyne was behind me the whole time. He just came over and tapped me on the shoulder. He said, "Did you just write your dad’s number on a stick of deodorant?" "Yes. Yes, I did." He just kind of smiled at me and walked away.
Kristen: That is amazing.
Kelsey: I'm with a dude dressed like a woman, hanging out with my dad, writing on a stick of deodorant. I can't handle my shit. When you want to look really cool and hang out with Wayne Coyne...
Kristen: Hey, it happens right?
Kelsey: It happens.
Kristen: Sometimes a guy wears your bra in front of your dad.
Kelsey: Sometimes they look better in them than you do.