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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Conversation with Wild Ones

Posted by Thor Benson on Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 12:20 PM

wildones.jpg
  • Savannah Mark
I met with Wild Ones at Bunk Bar, which happens to be down the street from where they practice. I had assumed they would be late, so I spent 15 minutes outside smoking cigarettes until Danielle came out to find me. “I asked an older man in a suit if he was Thor, and he said: 'No, I'm definitely not Thor,'” she explained to me. “It probably made me look like I was on an OK Cupid date.”

Wild Ones is coming out with their new album with Party Damage Records on Tuesday, July 9, and they're playing a record release show on Friday, July 5 at Mississippi Studios. We passed around beers, and what I believe was a margarita, and Max showed up late—I added his one quote to the appropriate section.

• • •

MERCURY: Tell me about this new record label and the album.
THOMAS HIMES: The two guys that started this label are Ben Hubbird and Casey Jarman. Casey Jarman was the music editor for the Willamette Week for close to a decade. He was the music editor when we were all like 18 or 19. We were all playing around town in various bands and playing house shows all the time. Casey kind of tapped into that network and started interviewing bands. He was writing people up and giving us praise, which we were all really excited about. That was kind of our first introduction to him. He was always a fan of our bands, even when we were terrible and young. We’ve kind of grown up a lot since then, and he’s just starting this label, and kind of approached us. It just felt really natural—we already knew this guy and we were really stoked to have them approach us in that way. They’re honestly true fans of music and they’re really earnest guys that we can trust with our record…This is their first full length, and our first full length too. We’ve all been in bands for six years, and this is our first full length album together that is coming out.

What musician in the world would you punch?
NICK VICARIO: Myself.
MAX STEIN: Besides Seve? That’s a great question. Who’s that lady? She does that song "You’re So Vain." Fuck her. I don’t know if I want to hit her—because that’s sketch—but fuck her.
SEVE SHELDON: I would punch Danzig, just so I could say I punched Danzig. He’d kick my ass, but at least I would have punched Danzig.

I would punch Justin Bieber.
THOMAS: Nah man.
DANIELLE SULLIVAN: He’s going through a hard time, and I think he’s skipped some developmental stages.

Tell me about a defining moment in the band.
THOMAS: South by Southwest, at least for me. We got approached by some management company that we decided not to sign with, and it was kind of like our diving-in plan. We saw Radiation City doing so well—all of our friends, like Typhoon, Pure Bathing Culture, Aan—all of these bands that are taking off and getting really serious. We decided to go down to South by Southwest, because we had a record coming out, some connections down there, and we booked the whole thing ourselves. We were definitely freaking out. That was our first time and it could have been terrible, but we made the best of it. We went to Flaming Lips and all these VIP parties. It was a blast—we made great connections. We even met our manager who we now work with. That was a defining moment. We lost a lot of money on that tour, but we’re better because of it.
SEVE: The lineup change is probably a pretty big one. I joined the band last October. The former drummer just kind of quit after their album was finished. It was a weird by-chance thing. I was in the hospital with a collapsed lung, and their drummer, Andy, just kind of quit. Nick came to visit me and I was like: “Hey, you should give me the new songs, let me do this.” It was totally not going to happen—it was a joke. But then we started jamming, and it actually went alright. It was just that a lot of things happened all at once—they were going to start playing shows again, so it was just a good time to join the band, because they were going to take a hiatus for recording. Some of the songs had never been played live before, so it was the first time. The chemistry was right.

How was your first show?
SEVE: It was great. Actually, it was really good. I was really nervous and it was a big show. It was New Year’s Eve at Mississippi Studios, with Typhoon and The Morals. It was sold out and there were a lot of things I had never done in this band—or before this band. Like, I play with a drum pad now, an SPDS. There are backing tracks… I would have preferred to have tried it out on smaller stages. It was one of the biggest shows I had ever played in Portland. After that first show it was like “alright, this is great.”

What’s one of your favorite shows?
DANIELLE: We opened up for Edward Sharpe in Lake Tahoe, a couple weeks ago. That was the biggest crowd we’ve ever played to before. It was a casino—also a first. It was in Lake Tahoe, with like 1500 people and with an amazing band. That was inspirational to watch. It was the most generous hospitality we’ve ever had, and that was my favorite for sure.

Did you hang out with them?
DANIELLE: We didn’t really hang out with them that much, they’re adults. They have their babies. They’re on that next step in musicianship.
NICK: There were so many of them in the band, I didn’t know who was in it. I didn’t know who to talk to.

Is that baby in the band?
NICK: There were like 10 babies crawling around!
SEVE: We played blackjack. I made some money.
NICK: Our manager lost 100 dollars though.

On your tour schedule you have some TBD days, what’s the plan?
THOMAS: We still book ourselves, so it’s always a struggle. Especially in the summer, because booking’s pretty cut throat right now. The West Coast we know pretty well, but we’re still open to some house shows and stuff. In San Francisco they don’t want you to play a show in Oakland the next day, even though you’re only getting paid like 100 bucks. It’s TBA, but we’ll most likely be playing shows those nights.

You guys going to busk it if you have to?
SEVE: Strictly no.
DANIELLE: We’ve actually never done that before.

Tell me about how you’re getting around.
THOMAS: We have a van out there, an 87 baby blue love wagon.
CLAYTON KNAPP: It’s called the Miami Vice.

Why is it called the Miami Vice?
CLAYTON: When I bought it, I got this mechanic to look at it, named Larry. After Larry looked at it, he was like: “Yeah, I’d buy that and drive it to Miami.” It was a weird thing to say. We got that van like six or seven years ago.
THOMAS: But it made it all the way to Austin and back.
DANIELLE: Without a hiccup…Well, there was literally a hiccup. At one point there was air in the gas tank.
THOMAS: That was nerve racking. We were in the middle of nowhere.
DANIELLE: My dad strictly signed me up for AAA the first time he looked at the van. He was like: “Let me get you the deluxe deluxe version,” and we’ve used it.
CLAYTON: The worst break down was in Wilsonville—like 20 minutes outside Portland. We didn’t even have to get gas, but we did, and it wouldn’t start back up. We had to hitch a ride into town to play our last show.
DANIELLE: We also had a pretty bad breakdown in Snoqualmie. It was like two hours before our final show of the tour, and it was the biggest show of the tour. It was a sold out venue in Seattle. We sat in the van in the freezing cold for hours…We ended up making it there and had to load directly onto the stage.

Tell me about a cluster-fuck moment in the band.
THOMAS: South by Southwest. It was like: “Okay, there’s nowhere to park. Okay, you play like now. Okay, the sound guy’s an asshole because he’s been doing bands all day, he doesn’t care about your sound and he’s going to stop you absolutely at this time.” You grab all your gear, you’re hung over and sweaty as hell. You have to carry your gear multiple blocks.
DANIELLE: There was the time we were at The Flaming Lips show. We were all at The Flaming Lips show—I thought. My phone was running out of battery and it turns out I was the only person at that show. They all left to an undisclosed location, and when the show’s over—a great set—I call Thomas and I’m like: “Hey Thomas, where are you? I’ll come meet up with you,” and Thomas is like: “Oh yeah, I’m at…” and then my phone dies…
THOMAS: They were giving out free Jameson backstage that night.
DANIELLE: Jared Mees of Tender Loving Empire stumbled through the crowd and he was my hero. He took me through cops on horsebacks, breaking up rap shows. People were on top of vans in the middle of the street. There were drum circles happening on every street corner. We found our way through Austin, and finally arrived, and these guys were haggard… Equal amounts of people said not to go to Austin, and South by, and equal amounts told us we have to go.
THOMAS: I totally understand both sides.

Is there anything about your music lately that you’ve been talking about amongst yourselves, which you haven’t talked to people about a million times?
THOMAS: This new record is studio based. Everything is recorded, as opposed to being performed and rehearsed. It’s totally a studio record. Now—we’ve definitely evolved to be more of a live band. We already have another record in the works. The dynamics have changed and we’re more of a real band now. We’re going to produce things quicker and it’s more exciting live.

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