Loud, snotty, super-catchy and cool NYC quartet performs its first local show as part of venue’s 13th birthday celebrations this Saturday.
They are the sound of NYC rock.
Or what you imagine when you think of the Big Apple’s bruised, musical underbelly — loud, cool, snotty, catchy, noisy and gritty with just the right amount of nasty and mean.
New York’s WYLDLIFE got the recipe right, following the lessons of their CBGB forebearers — the Ramones, the Dolls, Richard Hell, Blondie — and the moves made by others outside of Gotham including The Replacements, Cheap Trick, The Raspberries, The Undertones, The Romantics and The Stooges, while also making it something all their own.
With that knowledge, it’s not hard to understand why the quartet was chosen to headline the 13th birthday celebrations of local rock palace The Palomino, with the crew being flown in and out for the show
Prior to heading north for WYLDLIFE’s first-ever Calgary date, frontman Dave Feldman spoke with theYYSCENE.
Q: There aren’t many people doing what you guys are doing these days, just great, straight-up power pop and rock ’n’ roll, it’s not as fashionable as it once was. What first drew you to it?
A: I’ve always really been into punk music, but mainly ’70s style punk. I think those types of songs would be considered pop songs by today’s standards. So in that sense, we’re just suckers for a really good melody or a good hook. And obviously they looked really cool as hell. But today it’s just lot of politics, really stupid politics that apply in rock music. Especially around New York, like who you’re friends with, whatever. But we’re just suckers for a good hook.
Q: You brought it up — in New York are you outsiders looking in?
A: For awhile we were. It’s getting better. We’re getting on some better bills, being asked to play quote, unquote cool shows with touring bands from all over, which is great. But for awhile it seemed like we were too handsome to play with the garage rock bands and we were too rough around the legends to be on a huge label. (Laughs) We were caught in the crossfire.
Q: That’s surprising because, for someone who’s stuck in the prairies, you seem like a quintessential New York rock and roll band.
A: Thanks a lot. That’s what we’re gunning for. (But) it’s getting better. It’s cool that we get asked to play with Protex now and Joan Jett was cool — or whatever touring band that’s coming through. But now and again, there will be a festival with a bunch of Brooklyn bands, there’s one coming up in a couple of weeks, and it’s just like, “Huh, it would have been nice to have been asked to play that, I think it would have been a perfect fit.” But whatever. You can’t play all of them, right?
Q: What’s the reception been to the new album (Out On Your Block was released in January)?
A: I think it’s been good … My biggest fault is that I care too much about what people are going to think, so I go through little panic attacks. Like, “Are people going to think this is too slick sounding or too much of a departure from the second record.” But most people just said it’s like 10 more good sounding songs, so, I’m happy with it, I’m happy with the way it’s been perceived.
Q: You recorded it in Atlanta — why Atlanta?
A: We went back to Atlanta because the second album (2013’s The Time Has Come to Rock and Roll) was from Atlanta, all of our friends are down there, it’s like our second home … For us, we lock ourselves in a studio for a week at a time. This time was a little different. The first time we all just stayed in there and flushed it out, but there was a bit of a time crunch with people’s schedules this time. We just got Stevie (Dios) on drums, so (Spencer Alexander’s) bass and the drums were tracked on their own for the first two or three days, and then those guys flew back from Atlanta and Samm (Allen, the guitarist) and I stayed behind to do guitar work and vocals.
Q: That’s interesting because it sounds as if was recorded live off the floor.
A: We always track it live and then do overdubs. But, yeah, I would love to hear what us playing fully live (on a) recording would be … We want to get as close to a live performance sound that we can get on our records. It’s hard to do shy of recording it live in front of an audience. But I guess you’ll just have to wait until Saturday.
Q: The Palomino are obviously big fans of what you do, they’re bringing you in especially for this show, it’s a real one off.
A: I know. It’s crazy. It’s crazy to me. To be flown in for one show in a different country is just so crazy to me, I never really thought that would happen. Samm and I have been doing this since we were 12, you know, playing in different bands. It’s really insane almost 16 years later to be doing this, to this scale. It’s going to be a trip.
WYLDLIFE perform Saturday at The Palomino as part of the venue’s 13th birthday celebrations. For more information click here.
Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for theYYSCENE.ca, and the co-host of the show Saved By the Bell, which airs Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m. on CJSW 90.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He likes beer. Buy him one.