Spring 2020 saw Indie-rock sextet The Wilderness pull the ultimate musician version of lemons-into-lemonade. Instead of being upset that they couldn’t follow through on the six months worth of confirmed tour dates across North America, UK and Europe in support of their upcoming album, they pivoted and swiftly made a new plan which included doing a whole lotta everything: they released their debut album (August 2020), a live EP (December 2020), rolled out a social media performance video once a week, produced 10 “official” music videos, played innumerable Zoom concerts, and produced a documentary about one of their most fervent fans.
“We finished the album just days before the world shut down,” says saxophonist/percussionist Nicholas Lennox. “Navigating the pandemic meant full-on survival mode for a while. Now that we’re approaching the other side of it, we’re very hungry to get back on the road and make music for the sake of rock n roll.”
The Kingston, ON, band formed in 2015, with band members from across Canada, US and UK. Since 2018, they have independently released 10 singles, two EPs, a full-length, roughly 40 videos, scored a Top 5 single and Top 20 album at national radio, major BBC exposure, given an award and performed 450+ gigs including major festivals. Media and punters alike readily compare them to Bruce Springsteen, Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers.
“We all come from varied musical backgrounds,” continues Lennox. “Karl (bass) has a metal background so riff-focused writing and fast-paced lyricism comes naturally. Jonas (vocals) seems to need nothing more than an acoustic guitar and a pen; he really channels his folk influences and is an excellent storyteller. Nick (sax), Tim (lead guitar), and Henry (drums) are all trained jazz musicians and wear this on their sleeve.”
Their first full-length album, Until Tomorrow (technically, their 12th release) was recorded at the Tragically Hip’s fabled Bathouse Studio with the Hip’s own Rob Baker at the helm.
“Taking a song from a napkin sketch and your best friends take it to new heights with their own personal touches is truly special,” says Lennox. “It takes a certain vulnerability to trust others with that creation. Rob knows that feeling very well and just made everything shine.”
The video for the album single If I Have To Die was created by Chris Mills (Modest Mouse, Interpol, Metric) and shot at the height of the Ontario lockdown.
“We filmed ourselves individually, in front of a green screen, like a teenager rocking out to your bedroom mirror,” says Jonas Lewis-Anthony, lead vocalist and guitar. “As awkward as it was to film, we’re beyond stoked with the result.”
The Wilderness thrive playing live. After nearly two years of Zoom gigs, social distancing and a lineup change, the current Canada tour has them electrically reinvigorated.
“This is our first time in Western Canada including a really special show in Calgary with Kevin Kane,” says Lennox of the Grapes of Wrath legend. “We’re humbled to have the privilege of performing these songs to new audiences for the first time. This iteration of The Wilderness is the strongest there’s ever been, and we’re absolutely aching to show you.”
THE WILDERNESS perform Nov. 18 at Broken City with Kevin Kane.