AAA Music Approved: The Wilderness
aaamusic | On 08, Jun 2019
Who are you and where are you from?
The Wilderness is a collection of musicians from all over The US, Canada, and Europe who met at an open mic in Kingston Ontario during the Winter of 2015. The band was originally a 5-piece wit current members singer and rhythm guitarist Jonas Lewis-Anthony (UK), lead guitarist Sacha Lansky (FRA), bassist Karl Tombak (CA), drummer Henry Lawrence (US), and original lead guitarist Scott Goodwin (CA). After about two years together Scott had left the band and I (Liam Neale, US) had joined as a keyboardist and percussionist. Following our first tour with the new 5-piece lineup, we recruited (or more appropriately Jedi mind tricked) Nicholas Lennox into becoming the 6th member as a saxophonist and percussionist.
What inspired you to get into music?
We all grew up listening to and playing a ton of different types of music which I think is a huge advantage for us as a band. While The Wilderness is a rock band, and since all of us grew up listening to “rock” music, a lot of those influences are very clear (I mean, we have a song named after Bruce Spingsteen), but we also had some really diverse musical backgrounds. Nick is a formally trained Jazz saxophonist and used to drum in a metal band, Henry and I both spent our high school musical careers learning a variety of Korean, Latin, and African percussion instruments, Karl was a metal bass player, Sacha grew up playing a lot Middle Eastern and funk music, and Jonas has spent his life writing folk songs. We all got inspired by very different genres and experiences with music, but because of that we are able to channel the idea of a “rock” song through such a mixed set of influences allows us to have our own unique definition of what a rock song is.
What have you done?
We’ve formally released 2 professional singles (Hurry Up & Wait, and Dancing in the Dive Bars), and a 6 song EP (Seminary Road). We also recorded and self-produced a full 12 song demo (Saxton’s River) in 2017. While none of the releases have a major national or international impact (we ain’t famous yet), each release has built on the success of the previous one, and allowed us to build a strong fanbase in parts of both the US and Canada. Since each release has represented a step up for us (both in terms of music quality, but also commercial success), we’re excited that our forthcoming releases will do a lot to help us break onto a bigger stage.
What are you like live?
The Wilderness is a band that was built on live performances. The band has performed close to 400 shows over the course of 7 tours in the five years we’ve been together. We’ve gone as far East as PEI, as far West as San Diego, as far North as Thunder Bay, and as far south as Austin Texas (all driven of course). All that experience has made us seasoned performers, and allowed us to put a lot of physical energy into our shows. We’re also a band that spends a lot of time out busking on the street. Busking is the perfect training for being a performer on stage as it forces to maximize the entertainment factor of performance. When you’re busking there is no built in audience, you have to force people to stop and check out what you’re doing. While you may have an audience already waiting for you at a bar/club gig, there’s no guarantee that they care about listening to you, and the busking mentality of demanding attention for the audience has served us extremely well.
What makes you different?
As I said before, because we all come from a variety of musical and cultural backgrounds, our music has a unique quality to it that can only be created when the 6 of us put our heads together. At the same time we also consciously try to make music that can appeal to a wide variety of listeners, in effect we strive to create music that is both familiar but unlike what you’ve heard before, and we feel that’s allowed us to connect with a wide variety of people. Lyrically our songs also focus on very personal, honest stories that touch on universal themes that are easy for people to understand and relate to. We also make a point of having a band personality that is very transparent. We share a lot of our experiences (both good and bad) with our fans, and that helps us to build a personal connection with the people that listen to our music so they can feel like they are a part of every success and failure we experience.
Physical vs Downloading vs Streaming…How do you listen to music?
These days I tend to stream most of my music, especially for long drive it’s really just the most ideal. We tend to bounce between genres of music so much, that having so much music available at any given moment is really hard to compete with. Also having streaming services such as Spotify and Youtube be so easy to access is a huge blessing to an independent band like us. It allows us to get our music out to people all over the world without being reliant on the resources of another group (i.e. a label) in order to afford to put music out on such a wide scale. On the other hand as both a musician and a fan of music, I think physical and downloads are still superior. It’s really hard to compete with the feeling of owning your own collection of music (even if that’s just an iTunes library full of mp3s). I’ve always felt like that gives you a much deeper connection to the music you listen to since it makes the songs a more physically tangible part of your life. As an artist too, streaming services aren’t known for paying back the artists very well, so there’s a bit of good and bad with both.
What have you been listening to?
I’ve been listening to a weird mixture of music lately. The new Shawn James record The Light & The Dark has some really killer songs on it. Nick and I have been blasting the new Amon Amarth record The Berserker a lot, and a bunch of us recently dug back into American Idiot after Nick, Henry, and I got offered band positions in a local production of the show.
What are your aspirations for the future?
Right now we just want to keep working at growing as a band. The past two years were very fruitful and informative for us. We learned both what it takes to play shows and travel night in and night out, while still being able to put your all into a performance; and we also learned what it means to be able to take that energy and permanently put it to record. We feel like we’re a really good position to really have a breakout year as a band, so we’re really excited to put out even stronger recordings and continue to grow our fanbase and spread our music to new places. Ultimately we aspire to be a band that has the clout to headline at major music festivals/areas, and put out records that are both artistically fulfilling and commercially successful.
Questions answered by: Liam Neale (keys and percussions) of The Wilderness…