- November 2015 -
HAVE A BEER WITH WILDLING
On a Sunday night in November 2014, five musicians took the stage together for the first time at The Satellite in Los Angeles. The following day, they were invited to headline the venue's January residency; the following week, they were invited to provide tour support for Young the Giant. The five piece — a group of musicians that has since changed and evolved— wrapped up a string of gigs with Young the Giant in Boulder, Colo., on Nov. 17, just in time for their debut EP release on Dec. 4.
We chatted with the Los Angeles-based band about finding their footing so quickly, their forthcoming EP and pertinent advice they received from Charles Bradley.
Drinks of Choice: Local pale ales (Terrapin’s pale ale out of Athens, Ga., and Founder’s Centennial IPA out of Grand Rapids, Mich.) and Bulleit Rye. Mezcal cocktails when in L.A.
Kristen from A Beer with the Band: The time from the band forming to being on the road happened really quickly. Tell us about that experience.
Wildling: It’s kind of crazy. It all goes back to our first show, in November of 2014. We had formed only a couple weeks prior, and we just felt we had something special. We went into that show just looking to play our hearts out and have fun. The next day, the venue — The Satellite — invited us to headline their January residency. A couple weeks later, Young the Giant invited us to support them on their upcoming tour (turns out Sameer and Eric had been at that show). By mid-January, we had a couple prime-time SXSW showcases booked. Our residency went amazing; the crowd grew every subsequent week. Basically, we’ve just been doing the same thing from the beginning. We’re all super passionate about the music, and we set our bar really, really high as performers. We’re all striving to become the best we can be—both as musicians and as people — and Wildling is our vehicle. Our live show has definitely been the fuel for this bands rise, and it’s really humbling and validating to know that our hard work is paying off; that people’s reactions are as vibrant as they’ve been.
Kristen: Because the band seems to have found its footing so quickly in 2014, we’re curious to know what your creative process is like.
Wildling: While the band is new, everyone involved has been playing and writing music for years. In the beginning, we were playing songs that Ryan wrote with Erik and/or Andrew. But now our process incorporates everyone, to some degree. An idea will come to one of us, an we’ll hash it out together in the studio. We’ll take voice memos, or sometimes Ryan or Erik will produce a demo, and we’ll continue bringing ideas in and testing it out. And we’re relentless at this. We’re constantly coming up with new songs. We probably wrote close to a dozen songs that we performed in early 2015 that have already been replaced by even newer songs. We never let go of ideas, but at this point in time we’re just trying to craft the best set possible.
Kristen: What was one high point and one challenge from making your EP? Is there a particular song that didn’t turn out the way you thought?
Wildling: We definitely changed up some songs from their live versions once we got in the studio. But we wouldn’t put anything on the EP we weren’t absolutely proud of. I think the high point of recording is when you’re all sitting around the board, listening to the playback as the song begins to take shape. When the tones sound amazing and you look at each other like, “Yup. This is fucking real now.” The challenge, for us, was probably just time. We would have loved to have taken more time to put out full-band live recordings, but we only had 1-2 days per song, tops. So we just had to knock out our parts one by one at a good pace.
Kristen: What's your favorite piece of gear?
Wildling: A travel steamer. It irons shirts and kills odors. We also love all pedals that Strymon makes.
Kristen: Who are some artists you’re currently listening to and what do you enjoy about their sound?
Wildling: We listen to everything in the van, but we tend towards classics that everyone can agree on. Last night we jammed a Ray Charles live album. Who sings with soul like that these days? We love the dusty sound of those old recordings, the natural ‘verb from the rooms, the sonic texture of analog. One of our favorite new records is Lianne La Havas’ Blood. Her songs, her vibe, her voice — we love it all.
Kristen: If you could work or tour with one musician, who would it be and why?
Wildling: David Byrne or David Bowie: They’re always reinventing themselves and making current art. They both seem like the kind of people we’d want to have a beer with. They hold some secrets to the universe, for sure. Plus, Casey looks like Bowie so it’d be funny to see them next to each other.
Kristen: What’s something you couldn’t live without on the road?
Wildling: Auxiliary outlet and Muji neck pillows.
Kristen: Do you guys have any bad habits on the road?
Wildling: Unrestrained flatulence in close quarters, calzones and late-night peace pipe rituals.
Kristen: What’s the boldest thing you’ve done in the past year?
Wildling: Starting this band, making an EP and going on a national tour with Young the Giant. Either that or driving from L.A. to Burlington in three days.
Kristen: What’s the least rock-‘n’-roll thing you’ve done in the past year?
Wildling: Casey provided legal assistance for the deposition of a Japanese ATV engineer.
Kristen: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received related to music?
Wildling: We played with Charles Bradley at SXSW, and after the show he told us, “You’ve got the same thing as me. You need to let it out. You gotta share what’s in your heart.”