Interview conducted by @KralTunes The boys of New York’s WYLDLIFE are in the midst of a personal revival. After being sidelined for close to a year, the band has just released some new material, (It’s Called) Rock ‘n’ Roll, and are gearing up for a major run in the next year. Before heading south to record their new album, vocalist Dave Feldman was awesome enough to talk to me about the highs and lows of the rock and roll life, some of his best (and worst) memories on the road, and some time traveling hijinks. KralTunes: (Typical question I am sure you’ve heard ad nauseam) Do the boys in the band WYLDLIFE actually live up to what the name implies, or are you all simple happy little homemakers when the lights are turned off?
Dave Feldman: Well, I don’t know about a homemaker. We all keep are heads on our shoulders, I’ll say that. We have vices, but we keep them in check. We have paychecks coming in for the most part so we’re not starving. When we’re on the road, we definitely turn into a whole different animal. A party animal, if you will.
KT: Lets get some basics out-of-the-way. How did you guys come together as a group? Have you been playing together for a long time?
DF: Spencer (bass) and Sam (lead guitar, also only guitar) went to college together, as did our old drummer, Russ. I had been playing with Sam in high school so we just wanted to keep it going. Back then, I would go up to Purchase nearly every weekend, practice, play shows, look for some strange, mooch off everybody’s meal cards, and go home. Now we got Stevie in the band on drums, he’s a couple years older but looks maybe 8 years younger. He’s a killer drummer, but he’s also just a really sweet, soft-spoken guy.
KT: You recently returned after a “nearly a year-long hiatus between drummers” with an exciting new 7” vinyl, (It’s Called) Rock ‘n’ Roll. Was it difficult for the band to be on such an extended break for this long? For some bands, such breaks can go either way: (A) Its torture, (B) It was a chance to step back and reflect on our body of work and perhaps make necessary adjustments to future success (sorry for the philosophy) Where do you guys lean, or is there an option C I am not taking into consideration?
DF: Yeah, the last year since Russ left was really hard on everyone. It was so tormenting to want to be playing, wanting to be recording, wanting to tour and to not be able to do it just because I was at the mercy of a terrible situation. And for me, this is all I want to do in life. And for so long I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen again, or if the whole thing was going to disintegrate. I got around to thinking about killing myself, especially around the winter time. That’s not really something I’ve talked about with too many people, but whatever. For about a year, I basically had my terrible day job that I would come home to every day and that was it. That song “Saturday Night” became totally true for me and it was really bad. We had two songs that we recorded in June (that just came out) but we weren’t doing anything with it. I didn’t even like going to shows or seeing my friends bands anymore because it just made me a really bitter and sad person. Anyway, I’m glad I didn’t kill myself because it’s looking good now. The one thing that we were able to do was write a ton of new material, even if it meant we weren’t playing it out, but now we have Stevie on board, we’re recording this album next month and it’s gonna be a ripper. Then I just want to be on tour forever if I can.
KT: The bands image portrayed through your videos and various photos I’ve seen is one of beer swilling ruffians, and does not seem to fit into the current ‘pop-punk’ landscape. (most people think of this 5SOS band when talking about punk rock, for Gods sake)! Do you see yourselves as outliers of the current scene? Are you products of a bygone era?
DF: I think WYLDLIFE may actually be the most outlier-type band right now, only because we are too rough around the edges for a major label (which is fine for me) but we are too slick and good-looking for a Burger Records or Slovenly or Hozac. That kinda sucks because those are my favorite bands right now, Barreracudas, Dinos Boys, Shocked Minds, Dirty Fences, Bad Sports, etc. But I think that huge amount of admiration and appreciation for those bands is most likely not reciprocated from their audiences to us. We’re caught in this fucked place, sonically and visually, but whatever. At the end of the day I just want to drink Bud Lite Lime and make music we like. Our fans will get it, and if some other people get it, that’s cool too.
KT: Songs like “ Cowboys and Slutz” and “The First Time’s The Worst” off of The Time Has Come To Rock & Roll appear to be written from a first person account. Do you pull from real life experiences for the lyrical content of your music?
DF: Yeah of course. The title for Cowboys and Slutz actually came from this Cowboys and Nava-hoes party we went to one time. It sounds fratty as fuck, but I swear to god it was insane. Loose woman dressed as Native Americans, Jesus Christ… The funny thing about both of those songs are that their both about teenage girls. They sound totally different but for “Cowboys” I guess we were going for like an AC/DC or Motley Crue thing, and then “The First Time’s the Worst” was just lyrically going for a song The Raspberries might have written. Those two weren’t about anybody specific, but a lot of our songs are. Mostly ex-girlfriends and knuckleheads I see around the city.
KT: I’m sure you’ve been asked about your favorite spots to play…whats the worst venue you have ever played in? Was the experience so vile that no amount of $$$ would convince you to return?
DF: I won’t name names but people can ask me in person. Hamtramck, MI was fucking terrible. We did a show with The No Tomorrow Boys and at the end of the night they offered us $10 between both of our groups because “they had to pay the light guy.” You can’t even get high for $10 dollars. There was a show in Kansas City that was so fucked, there was just negative energy that night following us. We almost got into two separate fist fights, one with a group of local dickheads, another with a drunk guy in the parking lot who told us “You don’t know how much money I make, you’ll never make 300 dollars a week in your life.” There was also a massive thunder and lightning storm that night. It was awesome. Also there was a spot in Winchester, VA where we didn’t get paid, we ran our own sound, and without any sympathy we’re just like, “also your bar tab is 50 bucks between the four of you” so we Blues Brothers’d the fuck outta there.
KT: Follow up: Are there areas of the country/world that you are super excited to get back to on future tours, and why?
DF: Yeah absolutely. Too many to name. Definitely looking forward to going back to FYWROK. Atlanta, Milwaukee, Chicago, definitely looking forward to playing Denver some time in the future, hit the West Coast. All that good stuff! If anybody wants us to come to your town, get at us!
KT: So body ink seems to be a favorite pastime amongst the boys in the band. Any of you have tattoos that you regret getting years (or the next morning) later?
DF: I mean, I got a Misfits tattoo lasered off. I coulda lived with it, but really I was just bored and could afford something else. Oh well.
KT: If you had to rank your wyldest (see what I did there) touring moments (on stage or off), what would the top 3 be?
DF: There are too many and all quite blurry. In no order: Milwaukee, WI: Picked up, immediately escorted to a strip club called The Cheetah Club in a party bus with all these street punks, then played to a packed house where the cops showed up. That was madness. We Woke up the next day and went on a brewery tour and drunk bowling. Indianapolis, the one time Young Matt stole my sneakers and we wound up at a slip and slide party and drove around in, I swear to Christ, a fucking lawnmower hovercraft, then went back to Brett’s house and watched the Best of Stone Cold WWF VHS tape and ate a pizza that was bigger than my mattress. (You would have been my heroes circa 1999). The first time we played Chicago some guy in his mid to late 20s walked towards me with a knife and said, “Hey! You were at my friends party last weekend weren’t you?” and I said “Uhh… no.” And then his friend in the background shouts, “IT’S NOT HIM!.” That all took about 4 seconds but it was pretty fucked! (You guys have lived a charmed life..that much I am sure of).
KT: What the hell is a “GLUNK ROCKER”?! (apparently, you are) Do you approve of such a term?
DF: I think it’s a conjunction of glam and punk. Yeah I back it. I have been called worse. I think that the New York Dolls and The Soda Pop Kids and The Star Spangles and The Richmond Sluts were kinda glunk rockers in their own right, so I back it.
KT: I try to get some opinions on current events with each interview, so bear with me as we troll through miserable reality for a moment: Baltimore. Freddie Gray. Whats your take on all this crap? Seems like every week theres a new story about abuses in law enforcement that unfortunately results in a dead African-American man. Has there been an actual spike in these events occurring, or is the media simply hyper focusing on such stories? Are they (the media) making it worse? (my answer, YES!) As I write this, they are now stating that his death was self-inflicted while in custody..seems far fetched, but anything is possible I suppose.
DF: None of us are ones to rock the boat politically or socially, so I’ll just say that the footage of the dude nonchalantly throwing a huge rock through a cop car windshield got me so pumped, I had to run laps listening to The Kids just to work off the excitement.
KT: You just released this new 7”. What does the future hold for WYLDLIFE?
DF: We are driving down to Atlanta next week to record the next album. I am so excited for that, I can’t even tell you. Then we got a couple shows around NYC for June, probably fly down to Tulsa for this FYWROK festival. The album will be out hopefully by early fall. Maybe do some touring around then. I would love to put out a Christmas 7” this year too. We’ll have to see. (Excellent!! I look forward to it)!
Most important question of the night…
KT: I like a good time travel hypothetical situation, and this one comes from the podcast TELL EM STEVE DAVE. The one scenario that immediately comes up in conversation is always “If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be”?, and the answer almost always is, KILL HITLER. That became the standard answer, and as a result, to make things more interesting, the question evolved into “If you could travel back in time and kill baby Hitler before all of his atrocities, would you do so”? Now, in an attempt to ratchet it up even more, the question has become “You have the opportunity to seduce Mother Hitler prior to his original conception from his actual father, thus sparing the world from his DNA and cruel final solution. (assuming that the child would grow up to be more like one of you, and a lot less like Hitler). Would you be willing to impregnate the future Hitler’s mother to save he future of millions of lives?? Here is a picture of Mother Hitler to help (or hurt) your response… DF: (Off the record, I really appreciate that Mall Rats reference). Is that a brooch made of grapes? (I do believe it is) I think it would be pretty awesome to be like, “Hey Hitler. I fucked your mom.” And God knows I am a motherfucker at heart but nah, she’s beat. I wouldn’t fuck her with yours. (HA! While I do abhor your negligence in avoiding a worldwide suicide, I do believe that my dick should not be deemed ‘in play’ for such shenanigans… Well played).
Find WYLDLIFE Here: BANDCAMP