Somewhere along the road, we grew up a little bit…
Back in the winter of 2013, Wildewood began recording our first album.
The songs came naturally, and recording was straightforward. There were no major hiccups—other than a few days of tension in Greg’s South Valley home, due in large part to tired ears. The album has been out in the world a while now and it stands on its own (I mean that as objectively as possible, honestly). And it stands as a great achievement for the three of us.
Still, though the album represents and reflects a sort of transitional point in the band, it failed to capture the true energy and power of us playing live. In the year since recording it, we’ve readily brought new instruments, writing styles and ideas into the recording studi…I mean living room.
We also hit the pavement hard, and have kept a very steady schedule of shows.
We were even fortunate enough to tour with The Handsome Family. We went to Austin, Texas (managing to somehow eat granola and trail mix, bypassing “The Saltlick” completely). We constantly crisscrossed Albuquerque’s several decent venues, writing new songs, relearning old songs, and always playing together—not just physically together, but growing a sort of synchronicity between us. A sonic weight that has come from playing these songs a lot and putting a lot of thought into our actions. Ultimately our playing has matured a lot over this past year, which has become most apparent in recording our new album.
Should we seek perfection? Well, what’s perfection, anyways?
Some of my favorite albums are the ones that are born in noisy rooms, with hard-soled shoes on wooden floors, creaking and buzzing instruments, lots of bleed, and a rough quality that makes the songs feel like the band is playing in a living room, just for you.
There are some great polished albums out there too, but they run the steady risk of stagnancy and sterility. Without that spontaneity and emotional intent, those songs are just shells and molds; they’re without integrity or authenticity, or those happy little accidents that make you point at your speaker, grinning maniacally. If someone is singing an emotional song, those emotions should be there, even if that means all the notes aren’t perfect, or you flirt with the time a little bit.
The goal with this album was to record everything as live as possible.
It’s not without overdubs; there are too many instruments involved, even if just on my part. Still, we’ve begun recording new songs live. Songs that we’re still learning that offer a little instability and force us to use intuition and take risks together.
In my mind, albums just reflect a short period in time. Sure, they last forever and can always be replayed, and even after they end up in a bargain bin at Savers they can be reclaimed by a new owner and a new sound system.
It’s a strange thought that after the song is recorded, that little emotional spark stays lit even after you’ve sang that particular song to the point of sheer muscle memory. It’s the kind of thought that keeps me up at night. Regardless, I think any band recording an album on any financial or technical scale just wants that moment in time to be properly reflected, whatever the hell that means.
With the current album, we’re embracing this mentality.
You’ll never play the perfect show. The perfect solo or harmony isn’t ever going to be there, and something unexpected is always going to rear its head. This is what art is all about.
How do we respond? Should we seek perfection? Well, what’s perfection, anyways? What if that moment of learning the song is the best that song will ever be? Imagine capturing those first steps and breaths, those creeks and moans, the intimacy and uncertainty.
We’re still in the trenches of this album, but we’re in no rush, really. There’s a steady influx of new songs and ideas keeping us on our toes and we’ve all gotten in the habit of taking notes between pushing up our glasses and taking a hit off our inhalers. I feel like we’ve found a new mode of operation with this album, and as we’ve developed a sound by playing together for over four years, the initial tracks really reflect that.
We get to be flies on our own walls, taking in the strange magic that is a trio of musicians, friends, family and slight lunatics (anti-socialites might be more fitting). Hopefully we’ll release this into the wild sometime this summer.
Photo by Jesse Littlebird.