Photo Credit: Erin McCall Photography

Photo Credit: Erin McCall Photography


- October 2016 - 


William Wild is the moniker of 25-year-old singer-songwriter Garrett Sale. Born and raised at the foothill of the Appalachian Mountains in Knoxville, Tenn, Garrett began to pursue music while attending college. It was there that Garrett worked on his first collection of recordings with Knoxville friends and fellow musicians, eventually releasing a self-titled LP under the name “William Wild” (the nickname of a local homeless man).

Garrett then embarked on a solo journey through Europe, where he wrote four of the six songs on his 2016 EP, Steady Now. Hazy guitars, dusty keys and blurry pedal steel illuminate the recordings on the EP, which No Depression describes as “a straight-ahead purity of heart tangled up by loss, despair, hope and love.”

Last May, William Wild graced the stage at Schubas and performed an Audiotree session, and on his most recent visit to Chicago, he played a Val’s List house concert and opened for indie-folk Trio Joseph at Lincoln Hall. We caught up with him pre-show at LH to discuss his hometown of Knoxville, goals for his studio there, and how he plans to spend time post-tour.  


Drinks of Choice: IPAs and Bourbon

The Gig: Joseph with William Wild // Oct. 27, 2016 // Lincoln Hall


Kristen from A Beer with the Band: First things first: drink of choice.

Garrett from William Wild: It's definitely beer, usually an IPA.  I really like the Oskar Blues Pinner. It’s really light and floral. I love it.


Kristen: And if you’re going with liquor…what’s your choice?

Garrett: I like bourbon, but I'm not an aficionado. I normally stick to Jim Beam/Jack or something like that. I wish I could pull out some fancy name. That's not my shtick.


Kristen: You're from Knoxville originally, where you still reside. Any breweries popping up there? What are your favorites?

Garrett: Yeah, in surrounding cities, there are a lot of big breweries. In Knoxville, there are mostly smaller ones like Saw Works, which is pretty cool, and a new place called Balter, but none that distribute to other states just yet.



Kristen: I've never been to Knoxville. What's the city like?

Garrett: It's a bit like Nashville, but smaller and without all the music industry. Downtown and north of downtown are really cool. It's kind of like a small town, but there’s a lot happening. It seems like—just from new venues being built—that there’s a lot of new industry popping up. It seems like everybody downtown is on board to make the city better.


Kristen: What has kept you in Knoxville—aside from the obvious answers of family and friends?

Garrett: I have a couple of good friends that are integral in the music industry down there. I have a studio in Knoxville—It's just a house that we rent out. That's where I make all my records. And I feel it upon myself—the pressure—to make it better than it is.


Kristen: The city in general?

Garrett: Yeah, the city and the music scene and the culture there. It's really up-and-coming. I feel like with the small amount of success I’ve had, I have a little more weight there to make an impact. Right now, the studio is just a place for my friends and I to record.


Kristen: What's your end goal with it?

Garrett: Hopefully, at some point, we'll be able to offer a place to crash in the house, in addition to the studio. So, bands come in town, they get the keys or the security code, and they can be completely alone to record and do whatever they want.


Kristen: It’s like the Airbnb of studios.

Garrett: Yeah, yeah. There's a studio in Nashville that I've used a lot that has that same model: Brown Owl. It's in Berry Hill. I made some records there. It's just so chill. We wanted to create something along those same lines.


Kristen: I feel like when you're making a record, too, it ends up being very much a product of your environment. Having a space that’s comfortable and welcoming and feels like home is going to enhance your creative process.

Garrett: Totally. Sometimes studios in Nashville work from 10 to 6 or something. You'll spend the whole day getting sounds—and it’s not until 5 that you really get on a roll. Ideally you’d be able to go from then until 2 in the morning. That's when stuff happens. That's a big part of why we want to create that space.


Kristen: You put out a self-titled album in 2014, and followed up with the EP “Steady Now” earlier this year. What are you working on now?

Garrett: Well, this tour ends on Nov. 5. I’ve done a hundred shows since May, or something like that.


Kristen: That’s crazy. But not a bad problem to have.

Garrett: My EP did a little bit better than I thought it would. I was lucky to get a lot of touring opportunities from it. And in that time span, I did a lot of that touring alone, and wrote a couple songs on the road. So, starting on the 5th, I'm going to be in Knoxville indefinitely to make a new record.


Kristen: That's amazing. What was it like going from 0 to 100 in terms of touring constantly by yourself as opposed to being rooted somewhere? What was that transition like?

Garrett: It was really crazy. I didn't have a tour booked around the EP because I didn't really have the infrastructure to do it. After a few months, shows started coming in waves, and I started getting these offers. I also happened to get married right when that happened. I’ve been married five months now—got married in May—and have played about a hundred shows since then.


Kristen: Talk about an unconventional start to a marriage.

Garrett: Yeah, no kidding.


Kristen: So, speaking of being on the road, you’re probably seeing a lot of gas stations. What your gas station guilty pleasure?

Garrett: Definitely Diet Coke and probably Cow Tales.


Kristen: Cow Tales? I haven't had those since third grade.

Garrett: I totally realize how gross they are. I just crave the hell out of 'em.


Kristen: Pretty much anything you get at a gas station is kind of gross. It can't be worse than nachos and the rotating hot dogs, right?

Garrett: I stay away from that kind of stuff.


Kristen: You just go for the processed sugar.

Garrett: I can go crazy on some candy, like little-kid candy. I can get down on some Starburst any day. Cow Tales are misleading because I normally go for the sweeter stuff, like Sour Patch Kids or Fun Dip from back in the day. A sugar stick dipped in sugar.


Kristen: What ever happened to those? And how did our parents ever let us eat that stuff?

Garrett: I don't know. It literally makes you rot from the inside out.


Kristen: Yeah, that's okay. We're still here, right? If someone could play you in a movie, who would it be and why?

Garrett: Kyle Mooney—the guy from the Good Neighbor videos and SNL. I need to be made fun of consistently to level myself, and I think he would probably do a good job in that department.


Kristen: Do the guys on tour know that?

Garrett: Oh, yeah.


Kristen: What's the vibe like in the band on tour?

Garrett: Jesse, the tour manager, really keeps us in line—but is a completely insane person. After two weeks in the band with him, I still do not understand him one bit. I can't tell when he's joking or when he's serious. We're all kind of just messing around all the time, but I will say, he's on top of time management.


Kristen: Is he like the dad?

Garrett: More like the mom. Tim, the bass player, is more like the dad. He and Jesse like to pack things in the trunk. And he has every medicine you need in his toiletry bag—anything you want. Anthony, Cody and me are the total brothers. We just make fun of each other, run around and occasionally giggle.


Kristen: What’s the least rock-n-roll thing you’ve done in the past week?

Garrett: Probably get a little bit too drunk at a show and eat an entire pack of Starburst in the back seat of the van.


Kristen: Important question: Tropical Starburst or regular Starburst?

Garrett: Regular. We drove from Chicago to Toronto, and I was in pretty rare form. I got some Starburst at the gas station. I freakin’ downed them and passed out. They let me sleep the whole way.


Kristen Isn’t it crazy how being in a car can be so exhausting but you’re not doing anything? It emotionally vacates you.

Garrett:  It's so true. Oftentimes, we’ll show up at soundcheck after a 7-hour drive. We're all in soundcheck like robots. Then we realize that we’re actually people.


Kristen: What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

Garrett: In life, don't ever assume you have someone figured out—especially right from the beginning. And in terms of music, it would be to realize that you’re only one-tenth as good as you think are you are probably.I was thinking about this the other day in the car listening to my first record. These guys were learning it, so we had it on. And I think if I were aware of how bad I was I wouldn't have made that first record.


Kristen: Really?

Garrett: Well, not that I was that bad. But in hindsight, it’s funny because I was so proud of what I made. I look back and I'm just like, “If I had an accurate depiction of my talent, I probably wouldn’t have made the record.” But I’m really glad I did. So, cheers to being one-tenth as good as we think we are.


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