Wild Times With The Wildbirds

"Don't tell Universal because they might put a parental advisory," The Wildbirds' Nicholas Stuart says, "but if you hear at the end a celebration [it is] our producer over the loudspeaker, 'Fuck, yeah! Come in here.' That's the coolest thing about recording live, when all of you are sitting in a room and record, when a take is magical, or you feel it's magical, it's captured. So we captured even the befores and afters of it on the record, too."

- Corinne
Photos by Linda

posted July 27, 2007

The Wildbirds feature

     It’s been a particularly rough 24 hours for The Wildbirds.  The Wisconsin rockers spent the previous day in New York City doing countless interviews and, by the time they arrive in Philadelphia, they are more than a bit tired and burned out.  On top of that, frontman Nicholas Stuart is feeling especially down.

     “I’m glad that you asked. ‘Cause I want to bitch about it,” he says as band mates Hugh Masterson and Jon Jon Fries laugh.  “I’ll mention it on stage tonight, too, because I’m so torn up about it.  No, I actually kind of enjoyed everything about losing my phone and…somebody stole $50 out of my wallet while I was sleeping on the streets last night in New York City.  Which, I’m fine sleeping on the streets and that part was enjoyable but when somebody steals your money and you lose your Palm phone all in one night it’s a bit much to take.”

     While Stuart had some bad luck in New York City, their recent tour has been a different story.  The Wildbirds have spent much of July opening for Jesse Malin throughout the eastern United States and have quickly bonded with their tour mates.

     “The tour was great.  We loved everybody.  We played some interesting off markets; not every night was full up,” explains Stuart.  “But I think Jesse knew that going into it because they’re not his primary markets.  But we met so many great people, that’s the way it always is on tour when you go out for a month.  You feel like you’re leaving your brothers and sisters, parents.”

     The tour with Malin has offered some bumps in the road, however, especially for Malin himself.  A handful of the dates were cancelled, which Masterson explained is due to Malin’s poor health.

     “Jesse is in rough shape.  We were talking to his manager today, and they’re not sure exactly, but it’s just something’s wrong with his back.  Some sort of possible insect bite that infected the area around his spine and there’s fluid build up so it’s causing pressure on his nerves.”  He adds, “You know, I’m not a doctor.  But they thought it was that or something along the lines that pressure along his spine that he just can’t get comfortable and it’s killing him on tour.”

     With The Wildbirds’ debut album, Golden Daze, not due in stores until August 14th, the band is keeping an optimistic attitude while playing shows to fans unfamiliar with their classic rock influenced sound.

     “Lately it’s been really good.  It seems like even on those nights Nick was talking about, where maybe there wasn’t that many people there, it seemed like they got it, y’know?” says Masterson, the newest member of the band, having joined only three months ago.  “The last few shows in New York were just awesome; no one really knows our music but everyone gets into it and look happy, they look like they’re having a great time and they dance and they wiggle a little bit and they drink and they don’t leave.”

     “When you play a live show and no one knows your music you have to make up for it by being very energetic.  That’s something we’ve tried to do on this tour.  Have as much fun as possible up on stage even when there’s some arm folders in the audience,” adds drummer Fries.

The Wildbirds feature

     Having fun is important but the band insists that they were serious when it came time to write and record their album.  Although the band wrote the tracks on Golden Daze in the woods of Wisconsin with no distractions, the band similarly kept to themselves while recording in the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles.

      “We had to deny ourselves our party pleasures for a month because it was time to focus,” says Stuart.  “[I] can’t hurt the vocal chords; Jon had to stay in pristine physical condition.

     There aren’t a lot of good bands out there right now.  A lot of them are happy with an OK song and an OK recording and a mediocre live performance.  Whether or not we have good versions of those things, we strive to have them.  We’re not going to be happy until we break up or have all those things: a great live show and become better musicians, just hard workers.  I just don’t think there are many bands out there that are setting an example very well.  There’s not many that impress us.”

     The Wildbirds also credit the fact that they recorded the tracks live in the studio together and opted to keep side chatter and false starts on finalized tracks also made a big difference.

     “I think the whole vibe in the studio was us to tape.  The old boys did it -- just playing,” explains Fries.  “We had a good time and we wanted the record to be like that, too.”

     “Some of those parts off the records, like the beginning of ‘Way Down Low,’ we have a false start where we’re all frustrated,” says Masterson.  “We had the longest day.  Jon particularly wanted a sandwich.”

     “I was starving.  And I was anxious,” says Fries.  “I started the song and Nick wasn’t ready.  We were negotiating whether to keep that on the record but it’s a lot of fun having that stuff on the record.”

     “Don’t tell Universal because they might put a parental advisory,” Stuart says, “but if you hear at the end a celebration [it is] our producer over the loudspeaker, ‘Fuck, yeah! Come in here.’

     That’s the coolest thing about recording live, when all of you are sitting in a room and record, when a take is magical, or you feel it’s magical, it’s captured.  So we captured even the befores and afters of it on the record, too,” says Stuart.  “It’s a celebration of sorts in the studio when it happens.  Whereas when you lay the drums down, you lay the bass tracks down, the guitars, the vocals, there’s never a reason to celebrate because there’s no magic involved.  It’s all plotted and cropped.”

     But it’s the band’s giddiness and exchanges throughout the interview that are infectious: when Masterson inquires about the digital recorder taping them for the interview, Stuart announces he paid for the recorder he has with a blowjob; Stuart, who admittedly has already had a “half of whiskey and water,” yells to passersby, complementing a lady’s purse but hating her flip flops; Masterson states how odd he thinks it is that a New York drug dealer gave their friend a business card.

     The Wildbirds are living rock the way it used to be: long hair, goofing off and having fun.  Without a doubt, The Wildbirds will have much in store for their upcoming August residency at the Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa, CA.