Artist Highlight 2: Wylder
Indie-folk band Wylder released last April their debut album "Rain and Laura". I had the chance to talk to Will McCarry (lead vocalist/guitarist/songwriter) about Wylder's first record.
First, congratulations for your debut album ‘’Rain and Laura’’. The last few weeks must have been really exciting.
Will: Yeah, absolutely. We had a lot of enthusiastic reviews and response. The fans waited the better part of two years to get the debut album. It’s exciting to finally have tracks out there for them.
How would you describe Wylder to somebody who does not know the band yet? And which song would you pick as an example of your music?
This is the hardest question. It’s almost harder than making the music itself. I think the two genres that we fall between are folk and pop, both of those with an indie kind of spin. I always wanted to create something that was really organic and that utilized folk elements like the violin and the mandolin almost as a backdrop to have that more indie-rock feel and sensibility to the songs.
The song that I think exemplifies what we’re going for the best might be the opening track ‘’Living Room’’. I think that it has some elements of the more sombre and introspective slower songs, and shares some lyrical qualities with those. But it also has some poppy elements of ‘’Sunstrokes’’ and other more poppy and faster songs.
What was the last song you wrote for the record?
That’s a good question. The last song that came together was actually “Lantern”, which is one of the closing tracks. There were bits and pieces I was still working through lyrically on some other songs. “Lantern” really helped me finish the rest because it provided a context and a backbone of what I wanted to express emotionally.
Do you have many songs that did not make the cut?
Yeah (laugh), we have a whole bunch of songs that did not get
finished. I don’t know if they will ever see the light of day because I moved on to other stuff. I actually already have 20 or more songs that I’m ready to start working on.
So the fans won’t have to wait too long for a follow-up album?
That’s what I’m hoping. This one took a little too long for me. I really like having content out there. I’m hoping the next one will be out sooner than the last one, though I’m not making any promises (laugh).
Talking about the band, how long have you been together now?
We’ve been playing together the better part of the past four years. And there have been changes in the line-up. It’s the kind of band that has a revolving door on its line-up. It’s always been ok because it’s a large band, and the central songwriting figures are constant. The guys in the band are some of my best friends. We have come a long way from starting as a college band a number of years ago.
Was it Save The Arcadian?
Yes, it’s the same band. Wylder and ‘’Rain and Laura’’ are very much an outgrowth of Save The Arcadian. They are linked in so many ways.
So you are one of the main songwriters of the band?
They’re all my songs. Lonnie took the lead on two songs. I have half credit on those. But the rest of them are very solidly my lyrics, my melodies and progressions. But the rest of them are very solidly my lyrics, my melodies and progressions. And I think that what the guys come in and do, and what they’ll continue to do, is to rearrange and to add flourishes. They’re a great soundboard because I can come in with something and ask them what they think. Whether or not they like it or hate it, it always comes out with a deeper, fresher perspective after they’ve taken a look at it.
Amazing song from Save The Arcadian's album "How'd They Get Up There?"
Do you feel like your songwriting has reached a more mature phase with this record?
Yes. I’m glad that we waited so long to put this out in some ways because I think it provided us the time to take a step back and craft something we could really be proud of. I think we have even better things in us that will resonate even more, but this album is a great starting point for us.
It is a very solid album. I think the listener really gets the feeling that you know where you’re going with your sound.
That’s one of the things I’ve always been able to say about my songwriting. I do know what I’m trying to accomplish. Whether or not it comes off well is up to the listener.
Winter Is Coming- Radical Face: superb song from the album "Ghost" (2007)
Who are your biggest music influences?
For a long time I’ve said Radical Face, and it still rings true. I adore Ben Cooper and his music. I remember the first time I heard it, which I can’t say for many artists. It is a poignant kind of potent moment for me. I was sitting in my car, and I heard ‘’Winter Is Coming’’. I was like:’ Oh, okay, this is something special’. I really connected with it. I went home and started some of the songs that ended up being on Save The Arcadian’s record. Apart from that, I’ve always loved Jack’s Mannequin. I also really love Arcade Fire, especially the first two albums.
It’s interesting because, just like in Wylder’s music, music arrangements and the instruments all these artists use are a key element to their music.
I think I get a lot of my arrangements sensibilities from those kinds of artists.
Do you remember the first time you had a rehearsing session with the other members of the band? Or the first time you worked on a song with them?
When I first started working with those guys, it was the end of 2011. I remember very clearly sitting down and thinking that it is what I want to do. I had never played in a band before where the band members would stop playing their instruments long enough to listen to me explain something (laugh). That was truly exciting. I played in high school and early college in very loud bands, which was never really my thing. You had the drums, the guitarist…They never stop playing. Playing in a folk band really let me stretch my perspective on what I wanted to do because everyone is willing to stop and actually listen to what the song is supposed to be.
How did you cross path with the other members of the band?
I met actually all of them in college. In films, they have this thing called a meet cute where the guy meets the girl. I always use it as a reference. When I met Russel, who’s the pianist, I was playing guitar out on campus walk, which is something I had never done before and have never done since. Even though I play in front of lots of people, I find it oddly embarrassing. So I was out playing, and he kind of walked up and said: ‘Hey, can I play with you?’. I said yes and we started playing together. From there, the band got cobbled together through people that I had met who were in other bands. They all went to the same school, but we started poaching people from other bands. It came together very quickly.
Why did you change the band name?
There are lots of reasons. The main one is what you said earlier, which is that it was a new chapter for us. It was time to have a new perspective on what Save The Arcadian was. With this new batch of songs, I wanted a band name that reflected what I felt we were, which is something a bit more atmospheric, organic and naturalistic. Save The Arcadian always sounded a little more like a pop-punk band. It was time to have something that hopefully resonated more deeply with what we were trying to accomplish.
And you did a Kickstarter campaign for the record?
We did. We were very grateful. It helped us a lot. I feel bad because it took us a long time to get them their prizes. They’ve all been sent out, and hopefully they all got them in the mail.
Does it make the album even more special because you had this extra connection with some of your fans?
Yes, it does. And I think that those who contributed did not mind waiting because they knew we would get it to them as soon as we were able.
What are the underlying themes of “Rain and Laura”?
For me, ultimately, the album is about coming to term with loss and that doesn’t have to be love. It was in my case. It’s a personal kind of narrative and journey. And it’s one that I think is about asking questions. More sombre and slower songs like “Snake In The Grass”, “Lantern”, and “At The End Part 2”resonate deeply when put up against the faster songs because it creates a narrative of ups and downs. It begs the question of: ‘Was it all in my head and was this as meaningful for you as it was for me?’. For me, and hopefully for listeners, an answer to that question is presented by the end of the record.
In your songwriting, do you come up with the lyrics (or bits of them) first or with a melody?
I usually start with the sonic elements of the song. I start with the melody, and then the lyrics will grow from that. I often will look at a song and ask myself what this song sounds like to me emotionally and thematically. I am really into films as well and pairing images with music. That’s a long answer to say that lyrics, not that they’re less important, come second usually.
Swells (Official Video) by Wylder
You’ve just mentioned you’re into films. Are you going to do more music videos for this record?
I really hope so. What did you think of “Swells”?
I really liked it. That’s why I’m asking. It’s a brilliant video.
I’m really hoping to do at least one more music video. What I really want to do more is some live videos. We actually shot one.
Was there a track you found impossible to finish in this album?
What’s interesting is that the song we struggled the most is the simplest: “Swells”, the one that has a video. For some reason, we went back and forth on that song. I don’t know why. With that track we were like, ‘Should we cut this? It’s not working.’. In the end, I’m really glad we saved it and it ended up being a single too. I would also say “Part 2” because it’s so long. “Part 1” and “Part 2” were actually one song. Whether or not they work as two is up to the listener. I think they do. They have their own unique style. We argued a lot about this song because one of them is in 3/4 and the other one is in 4/4. We wanted to use both, and we worked for ages on arranging different pieces of the song in different orders. I can remember specific moments when I was thinking that it was just not working. Of course, eventually, we got to a place where we felt that it was right and working well.
Did you record the whole album in the same recording studio?
We actually recorded it in a number of different studios, all up and down the East Coast of the United States. We recorded it in, I think, 5 different places, which, for a small band, is a lot. It gave us some time to work through some elements of different songs. We got to utilize the different strengths of the studios. You know, do drums in one place and strings in the other.
Do you have a record label or are you independent?
We’re independent right now. We felt like our momentum was such that it made sense to release this independently and get something out there for people to gravitate toward, and show a label for the next project that we have an audience.
Would you recommend to other bands to try to release their music independently?
I think so. All of the artists that I’ve seen, in my short experience in this, be truly successful, have been those who have put themselves out there and pushed something that they really believed in personally. They have put in the leg work to make it happen. The truth is that no one is going to care about it as much as you do. You can give it to someone who will get you a couple of steps closer, but it’s better almost to keep it in-house. You can do all these things in these days and age, and make it happen.
So no regrets so far?
Not yet (laugh). Ask again in a couple of months. We’ll see how the album is going. I’m hoping momentum slowly continues to creep forward.
Do you have a tour or some concerts planned for this summer?
This summer, we will probably focus more on the East Coast, making our way up and down the cities on the eastern sea border here. Eventually I’d like to be looking toward a more national tour. It’ll just take us finding a booking agent who really wants to work with us and make it happen.
Thank you so much for your time. Good luck with everything.
Thank you for the awesome questions.
For more information about Wylder:
*Interview realised May 5, 2016.
Music blog launched back in January 2016. The aim of this project is to share as much good music (folk with a bit of rock music on the side) as possible. Hope you can find some music inspiration here.