December 2013 “Band of the Month” – THE WILD

TBI - Band of the Month

When we started the “Band of the Month” feature last year, we had no idea we would be introduced to all the amazing artists that we’ve wound up working with. From a feature with now-indie-giants, Of Monsters and Men, to the beautiful bedroom tunes of Faye Webster, the site found community and excitement in this feature. We look forward to continuing to share these incredibly talented artists with you.

photo by Jake Mayday

photo by Jake Mayday

From Atlanta, GA, the WILD are a bunch of friends who love playing music and sharing in the DIY philosophy of music, art, and politics. This is what The WILD has to say about themselves… 

‘We are five friends having a great time playing music together… We all feel the best when we are traveling together and getting to see old friends, making new ones, jumping off of high things into water, and playing music every night. right now everybody lives all over the country…. We’re from Atlanta, Lexington, Denver, Brooklyn, Toronto, Ft. Lauderdale, and Massachusetts… We write songs that are political and personal.’

-via TheWildAtl.com

The WILD is:

dianna – vocals and tambourine
steve – banjo and vocals
witt – guitar, harmonica, and vocals
dakota – bass
Bryan – drums

It was great to finally see you all play this past week at the Stuffing in Atlanta. How did you all come to be a part of the event and what were the two days you played like?

Witt (all answers): The Stuffing was a great experience for us. It was great to be in our hometown for Thanksgiving, and it just had a really cool family atmosphere. We played with Bad Books this summer at The Webster Hall in New York, and we started talking with them about The Stuffing. We’re really Grateful to Manchester Orchestra for asking us to be a part of it. The first night was all acoustic, and we were a little nervous, because we were the first band that night, and it was really cold and raining. I guess I was just worried that no one would get there in time for the first band, but when we came out to play the room was full, and it was great feeling. It was really cool to play acoustic, because we got to do some songs we don’t get to play very often, and to play to a quiet and attentive room was a really cool experience. The second night was all electric and we played last on our stage. It was so much fun, and it was cool to see the contrast in the energy of the crowd from the acoustic show the night before. We just had a great time hanging out with the Manchester Orchestra guys, our friends in Front Bottoms, and to see and chat with Kevin Devine again. There were also a lot of bands that we hadn’t seen before and were really excited to meet and play with. Big Jesus was one of my favorites.

photo by Jake Mayday

photo by Jake Mayday

I didn’t realize this until you mentioned it at the Stuffing, but you and Dianna have been living in San Francisco for the past year..What prompted the move and how has it affected the band with the release of the newest album and touring etc.. I’m sure practices are far and few or do you have a creative way of rehearsing things?

Yeah… it definitely changed a lot for the band. Dianna was offered a scholarship to finish school out here in San Francisco at the San Francisco Arts Institute. She’s an amazing visual artist, and we really wanted her to be able to pursue that. We’ve been able to keep touring quite a bit, but as far as practicing and writing it’s been difficult. I think we’ve all been writing independently, and it’s cool when we all have the chance to be together, to share our ideas with each other. We’re getting excited for when we go back to the East Coast next summer and are able to start working on a new album. I think for us as a band, we’ve always known that the members of the band need to have the autonomy to pursue their passions outside of playing in ‘The Wild.’ I don’t think we’d be able to write the songs that we do without the experiences that we are having in our day-to-day lives. It’s a great feeling when we haven’t seen each other in a while, and we start to play, and you can feel all of the experiences and energy that each member is bringing into the room with them from our time apart.

You mentioned at The Stuffing that you and Dianna recently go engaged, so congrats again! Are wedding plans a high topic of discussion right now or are you waiting until it makes the most sense for you?

Thanks! I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. I get to play music and tour, and my partner and lover is right there with me. We’ve got some plans in the works. I think we’ll get married back in the Southeast next fall. You know… the hardest thing for me is picking out a wedding band. We have so many friends that are in great bands or are great musicians, so I’m hoping to find some cool old guys that will let us have our friends front their band for a song or two throughout the night. Hopefully we’ll have Laura Stevenson singing “The Electric Slide.”

Dreams are Maps was recorded in late 2012 under the watchful eye of Laura Jane Grace at her/Against Me!’s studio in Florida. Some amazing records have come out of that studio, so it makes complete sense that you wanted to record there.. What was it like to work with her/the team there and how did that ultimately affect the finished product?

Dreams are Maps cover

Dreams are Maps cover

Working with Laura was a dream for us. It was just really incredible that she was so involved in the making of Dreams are Maps. We had been talking for a few months before the sessions, and she gave us feedback on demos and things like that. She also mixed the album after we left, so that we could use all of our time there for tracking, and I thought it was amazing that she was willing to take that on. There wasn’t really a crew. Laura engineered the whole album herself, and it was just her and us at the studio. Every night her wife, Heather, and their Daughter, Evelyn, would come by and bring dinner. They are a beautiful and kind family, and they helped us feel comfortable, so that we could really focus on making the best album that we could. There were a couple of really late nights, and Laura never rushed us or complained. In fact, she pushed us to keep going until things were the best they could be, regardless of whether we went late into the night. We are eternally grateful. I think the affect that it had on the final product was that we were allowed to totally immerse ourselves in making a record, and we had one of our heroes at the helm, so we felt confident and energized, and I think that comes across in the final product.

Asian Man Records released the album in May of 2013 to much praise from the blogosphere and from your anxious fans that had been waiting for a follow up from Set Ourselves Free. Four years is a long time to go for a band between records, so I imagine it was quite overwhelming when you all finally saw albums on shelves and the response from people at shows?

Definitely! It was a crazy few years between albums. We released a couple of 7”s and the A Collection record on Asian Man, which was kind of all of our out-of-print and rare stuff on one CD. We had a lot of line-up changes in between Set Ourselves Free and Dreams are Maps, and we were touring a lot, so it just never seemed like we had the time and consistent line-up that we wanted to really craft a new record. When Bryan joined the band, that all changed. I knew I wanted to write music with him the first time we played together. Writing Dreams are Maps was a really memorable time for me. We were losing our friend and mentor Anthony Poynter to cancer, and a lot of the album ended up being about that. We were living in a big house in Atlanta and had a band room where we could leave our gear set up for practice and writing. We would have a cook out on the back porch grill and then step inside and write and play. Like I said before, I think it’s really important that we’re growing as individuals as well as a band, and sometimes for us that means doing other things besides playing music, so even thought there was a lot of time between proper albums, I think that everything played out on a timeline that was meant to be. We couldn’t have written Dreams are Maps without everything we were doing during those years between albums. I think we were all really excited when the album was done and we were getting the album art together and all of that. It was like… ‘Wow. This is actually about to come out, and people seem excited!’ We were all really proud of the album and couldn’t wait for people to hear it. When we hit the road last summer and people already were singing along to the new songs, it was an incredible feeling.

You’ll be setting out on the road supporting The Front Bottoms and You Blew It! throughout January and early February, but I understand you guys won’t be on the whole tour, correct? What’s the timeframe like that people can plan on seeing you on the road with them?

the wildWe’re really excited about this tour. We played a few shows with The Front Bottoms last summer in the Northeast, and they were some of the best shows we’ve ever played, and the guys in The Front Bottoms are really supportive and cool, so we’re happy we’ll get to hang out with them for a while in January. We haven’t met You Blew It! yet, but I’m a fan of their music, so I’m stoked to meet those guys. We’ll be starting in Atlanta on January 6th at Under the Couch at Georgia Tech. We’re doing three nights with just us and You Blew It! on the way to meet up with The Front Bottoms. So January 6th – 8th will be us and You Blew It! and then both of us and The Front Bottoms will be crossing the country until January 19th. You Blew It! and The Front Bottoms will keep going, but we’ll be staying in California. Here’s the dates: 

1/06/2014 Under the Couch – Atlanta, GA*
1/07/2014 The Owl Farm – Nashville, TN*
1/08/2014 Hoosier Dome – Indianapolis, IN*
1/09/2014 The Pyramid Scheme – Grand Rapids, MI**
1/11/2014 Durty Nellies – Palatine, IL**
1/12/2014 The Waiting Room – Omaha, NE**
1/13/2014 Aggie Theatre – Fort Collins, CO**
1/14/2014 Club Sound – Salt Lake City, UT**
1/16/2014 Oakland Metro – Oakland, CA**
1/17/2014 The Crepe Place – Santa Cruz, CA**
1/18/2014 Troubadour – W. Hollywood, CA**
1/19/2014 Ventura Theatre – Ventura, CA**

*with You Blew It!
**with The Front Bottoms and You Blew It!

Speaking of The Front Bottoms, did you happen to catch any of their sets at The Stuffing this year?

I checked out their acoustic set, and it was really cool to see those guys stripped down like that. They really knew how to adapt the songs to the acoustic format. I didn’t get to see them the second night, because our sets overlapped by a few minutes, but I heard it was awesome.

photo by Jake Mayday

photo by Jake Mayday

I hate admitting this, but I’ve never been able to make it down to The Fest before. I’ve heard plenty of stories from bands, press, and patrons, but do you all have any standout moments from this year?

The Fest is a really unique, crazy, and amazing event that we are really grateful to have been a part of for the past four years. It is kind of like a punk family reunion. We see friends and fans and bands that we’ve made on the road all over the country in one place for the weekend. You’re just walking all around Gainesville, FL and running into people from all over the place on every corner. We always dress up for our Fest set, because usually it’s held over the Halloween holiday or close to it. This year we dressed up like 80’s hair rockers. We got to play Boca Fiesta this year, which I’ve always wanted to do, since it’s all ages and the only outdoor stage. It was an incredible night.

Getting back to Atlanta…what’s your history with the city and Georgia in general? Did the members of the band grow up here, play in other bands etc..

I grew up in Atlanta. Dianna and Dakota are both from North Georgia, so we have a really strong Georgia connection, and we’ll always consider Atlanta our home base, regardless of where we’re living at the moment. It is a totally unique city, and I have a lot of pride about being from Atlanta. Although, I do tend to write quite a bit about the things I don’t like about Atlanta. I played in a pop-punk band in high school, and we played the old Under the Couch and places like The Somber Reptile and the 513 Club. All of my extended family is from Georgia and my parents were both raised in small towns south of Atlanta. It’s been really cool to start meeting some other bands from the area like Manchester Orchestra, because we don’t really meet a lot of Atlanta bands in our same little world out on the road.

I’ve seen the band referred to in a number of places as “highly political”, a description that I find is often misused and routinely gives artists a bad wrap. I guess I’d like to think that you all really value being aware of your surroundings and how those external influences can impact you on a personal level… and with that comes politics and many other things. That all being said, what major shift do you think needs to occur in the current American government system so that we can start going the right direction as a country that at one time, people around the world looked up to and modeled themselves after?

I think you kind of nailed it. It is the nature of a lot of folk musicians to ‘observe’ the world around them and then use their music to try and help themselves and their audience make sense of it. A lot of my own commentary on politics in my songwriting is really based on myself trying to work out something that I can’t quite stomach. We all play music, because we want to have some kind of positive impact on the world. Offering people a little 30 minute recess from their jobs and anxieties, so that they can sweat and dance with their friends is an extremely political thing in my book. It creates a space where people can kind of transcend the things that hold them down in their day-to-day lives and it’s kind of like saying, ‘If we can do this together, then what can’t we do?’ The society we’ve created can be really isolating, and when we see strangers interacting and dancing together and sharing ideas at our shows, it feels really good. I believe that a major paradigm shift would have to happen to ‘fix’ our governmental system, and I think it has to do with society as a whole as opposed to the American Government, which is really just smoke and mirrors. We’ve been conditioned to be consumers instead of human beings. We’ve been taught to compete with each other instead of helping each other out. First of all I think we need to reassess our values as individuals and then as a society. I think that’s one of the great things about music, that it helps people to discover what’s really important to them. We live the way we were taught by our parents, peers, teachers, religious institutions, and authority figures. How many people ever ask why they feel a certain way about something and then if they realize they don’t agree with it, actually do something about it? I think that as we start to realize that the people around us feel the same way about things that we do, the world becomes less isolating, and we can feel freer to express ourselves and change our lives, but at the same time that is not what those in charge want. So, as we start to question our authorities, they start to push back even harder… limiting our freedoms in the name of security, etc. It won’t be an easy change, because people will have to sacrifice things that they think are important, but I guess people will have decide if they want the right to realize their potential as human beings under natural and universal law or to just exist and consume inside of some kind of corporate and societal fiction.

photo by Stephen Yang

photo by Stephen Yang

Eight from the Home State

Favorite place outside of Atlanta to spend a weekend?

I love the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia and Western North Carolina. Asheville is always a great place to visit. There are so many fun outdoor activities to do up there.

When you’re back in Georgia, the first place you go for a meal?

Ok Café in Buckhead, Ria’s Bluebird, and Willy’s (which is weird, because there are much better burrito’s in San Francisco, but there’s just something about Willy’s.)

Favorite place to visit as a child?

Visiting my grandparents in Barnesville, GA and Statesboro, GA.

The next Georgia band I listen to should be?

Places to Hide, Cheap Art, and Dasher (three way tie)

The Wild played their first show in Georgia at?

WonderRoot Community Arts Center

Braves, Hawks, Falcons, Silverbacks or you could care less?

Braves!

Atlanta could really use a?

…Coast line with good surf breaks.

Atlanta’s best kept secret is?

Rock Jumping at the Chattahoochee.

** It should be noted that The WILD is opening for BRAND NEW on 12/8 at the Troubadour in W. Hollywood

The WILD – Live at Fest 10 – 2012

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