Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Wilder Maker Part 2: Interview

After a few listens of Year of Endless Light I had a lot of questions and I got the chance to ask lead singer Gabe Birnbaum a few!

Essence Rare: Okay, can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration for "Float Us Through the Barroom"?

Gabe Birnbaum: Barroom is inspired musically by the George Harrison album All Things Must Pass. I love how huge and spacious that record sounds, and of course Will Graefe's slide guitar solo (1st take, by the way, dude's a freak) is a nod to that, in addition to being beautiful. Our setlist code name for the tune is still "Harrison."

Lyrically, it's about the idea of forgiveness, of being genuinely wronged and managing to still get past that and love what hurt you. Easier said than done.

ER: "Slow Life", the second single off YoEL is such a beautiful song!  What was your inspiration and what are the lyrics about?

GB: Thanks! Slow Life comes out of something my friend Will Stratton said about wanting every song to sound like acoustic Big Star. I sat down and the first two chords popped out. I hardly ever use big suspended chords like that (the second chord in the verse) but somehow in the context of that thought it felt right. 

The lyrics are about how ambition shapes you as a person, about the particular vulnerabilities and strengths of someone who is always gazing far ahead of where they are. Specifically, it concerns a young woman leaving NYC to recover from some kind of huge emotional crash. It's narrated by a friend who still lives where she came from. He's hopelessly in love with her and thinks she should love him, but she barely notices him. Most of the songs on the record are about people incapable of loving one another, no matter how much they may try, and this is no exception. I like that I am not in this song. 

ER:Where does the name "Wilder Maker" come from?

GB: Katie (our keyboard player) came up with it. 

ER: Each song is incredibly different in regards to instrumentals, tone & even genre!  Who would you say are your main influences?

GB: I grew up playing jazz saxophone and making really intense noisy music, and between then and now I've been in soul bands, acoustic folky bands, violent noise bands, and weird art-jazz-rock bands. I currently play in Debo Band, which plays Ethiopian music. So I've always been all over the place. 

I'm not sure who the main influences are, really. There's a lot of 1971 vibes on this record, but I try to steal as far and wide as I can, just to even things out. Here's a partial list who have inspired things on YoEL- John Phillips, Bill Callahan, Biggie Smalls, Neil Young, Nico Muhly, J. Dilla, Joanna Newsom, Elliott Smith, Phosphorescent, Van Morrison, Suji Kwock Kim, Isaak Babel, T.S. Eliot, Will Stratton.

ER: Since your music is so varied, how would you describe it to someone who hasn't heard it before?

GB: I am terrible at this. I say different things every time and it never feels right. Recently I made business cards, which means -20 punk points but at least when someone says "What does your band sound like?" I can just hand them a card. 

ER: What can we expect from Wilder Maker following this LP?  Will you be producing a full album or doing a tour?

GB: We've got a couple music videos in the pipeline for songs off this record, a boatload of new songs (see parts of some of them and mucho tour dates:

09.11.13 - Boston, MA @ Great Scott
09.12.13 - Brooklyn, NY @ Shea Stadium
09.13.13 - Portland, ME @ The Big Easy
09.14.13 - Pawtucket, RI @ Machines With Magnets
09.29.13 - New York, NY @ The Ace Hotel
10.01.13 - Brooklyn, NY @ The Counting Room
10.09.13 - Brooklyn, NY @ Muchmore's
10.10.13 - Northampton, MA
10.11.13 - Rochester, NY @ House Show
10.12.13 - Oberlin, OH @ The Cat In The Cream (Oberlin College)
10.13.13 - Chicago, IL @ The Whistler
10.14.13 - Milwaukee, WI @ Yield Bar
10.15.13 - Madison, WI @ TBA
10.16.13 - St Louis, MO @ TBA
10.17.13 - Nashville, TN @ TBA
10.18.13 - Cincinnati, OH @ MOTR Pub
10.19.13 - TBA
10.20.13 - TBA
10.21.13 - Boston, MA @ Northeastern After Hours
10.22.13 - Middlebury, VT @ The Gamut Room (Middlebury College)
11.14.13 - Princeton University w/Nat Baldwin

Unfortunately, there won't be anything in London anytime soon... but I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for a future English tour!  Wilder Maker could be coming to a city near you, so if they are be sure to check them out.  You won't be disappointed!

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