Toronto’s Wildlife are rolling their bus into town on Friday night. Sonically speaking, they live somewhere between Family of the Year and Arcade Fire (which happen to be two of my favourite bands). However, they have something those two bands don’t really have (or emote, anyway): An unabashed vibe of fun and joy. Their latest release “On The Heart” is a groovy and dancy blast of happy synths and pounding guitars.
I got in touch with Dean (guitars, vocals) to ask why they like having so damn much fun!
You guys really want this band to be fun, which is something I don’t hear a lot about with bands. Why the emphasis on fun above all else?
I can’t understand why you wouldn’t hear that all the time. People experience happiness through different means, and I think that by encouraging people to have fun and get into the moment is the way we can best facilitate that as musicians for an audience. We want people to have an uplifting, inclusive experience when they come watch the band.
The new record covers a lot of ground…very guitar-heavy, punky, and melodic. This isn’t a new concept, what is Wildlife bringing to the table that’s unique?
It certainly isn’t a new concept. Some of it is pretty guitar driven. We used so many different instruments on the record, I think if you get deep into it you may notice there’s some wacky stuff going on. Lots of synthesizers, strings, percussive instruments and all that. What’s unique about our band is the honesty that we bring to our songs and to our live show, our commitment to pretty much going bananas whenever we play and to perform like there’s 1000 people whether there is or isn’t. On the recording side of things I think that that honesty is felt through the lyrics and also a sense that these songs are meant for everyone to be able to relate to. There’s nothing contrived about it, our music is just meant to grab onto your heart if you let it. It doesn’t enter with any disguises or posturing.
How did you hook up with Peter Katis? What did he contribute to the new record?
We sent him our last record and he was interested. Pretty simple really. He listened to our songs and then we got to chatting on the phone a couple times and it just seemed like a really good fit. So we tracked half the songs with him, the other half with producers Gus Van Go and Werner F…We then went back to Peter’s and sat down to mix the record. He was able to bring out the dynamics and tension we wanted the album to have, and the size as well. We were very much in synch with how we like to work creatively and experimentally so it really worked out.
I like to ask a lot of artists about the work/life balance. How do you guys manage to keep everything going at home, with other jobs…and with touring and recording? What challenges do you have balancing your non-band lives with Wildlife?
Ahhh balance. It’s tough. I’m not sure I’m the right person to ask about that! Being away a lot is always difficult, especially when there are relationships to consider and financial imbalances but we do it so much for the love of it and truly believe in it so open communication within the band is definitely the key way we’ve learned to try to make it all work.
How Wild is your Life, anyway?
It really depends on the day. On one hand, I think a lot of my friends with 9-5 jobs or people with slightly more domestic, stable lives think our lives are totally insane. That being said, it’s never as crazy as people imagine it to be. Except when it is…
You’re based in Toronto, but are currently on tour across Canada. Is being a “Toronto band” helpful or not when you’re in other cities? Do folks really care about where you come from?
I don’t know that we’re even really viewed as a Toronto band. All in all I don’t think people really care, but it’s pretty fun to yell “we’re Wildlife from Toronto” when you’re playing in other cities and then boo before the audience gets a chance to.
In keeping with the fun theme, how do you guys kill time on the long drives between gigs? 🙂
Lots of good music, we listen to a lot of Louis C.K., podcasts like RadioLab and Welcome to Night Vale. At about 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon I usually start getting a little zaney and start blabbing for a couple hours, making dumb costumes out of garbage in the van and doing really stupid voices. We make up the worst jokes we can think of and discuss hypothetical situations like how great it would be if you could get a pug the size of a horse.
I’m loving “Born to Ruin”…can you tell me about the theme of the track…and was is supposed to be a Springsteen pun?
Thanks! It’s a pretty obvious pun of Born to Run. I liked the idea of turning that theme on its head a little, and the idea is that you can find positivity in negative situations, learn lessons and possibly accept the notion that there can be beauty in difficult experiences.
Tell me about the SXSW and NXNE festivals…what’s it like doing showcases at these big festivals?
Sometimes it’s incredible and sometimes it sucks. If you’re playing for not very long and racing around a busy city to play 25 minute sets it can get pretty hectic, but generally the experiences have been pretty good and when they’ve been on point they’ve been amazing.
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