Wild Nothing – Chinese & Chats
Wild Nothing, the bleak pseudonym that Jack Tatum christened his one man band with. A one man band that by necessity became a four man band (playing 2 guitars AND drums and a handful of keyboards is probably a bit much for most). And so the shoegaze foursome consisting of Jack Tatum (guitar and vocals), Jeff Haley (bass), Nathan Goodman (guitar & synth) and Michael Skattum (drums) set off on a european tour that has so far included gigs in Sheffield, Brighton and Tracks festival. I was lucky enough to catch up with them at their Brighton show at the Audio and ‘interrogate’ them whilst they chowed down on some chinesey goodness. Luckily enough in between discussing ‘man juice’ shots, waddling, smoking and parental tendencies to google their children, i actually managed to speak to them about their tour and Wild Nothing in general. Here’s what they had to say:
So, with your first album Gemini, how was it put together? Was there any help or was it a solo project?
Jack: No i did all the instruments and recording myself, but then live, i got these 3 guys with me.
Did you guys know each other before the album was produced and released? Had you worked together before?
Jack: We (Jeff) had played in a band together before Wild Nothing so him and our old drummer kind of just continued. After that we brought on Nate as an extra guitarist and Mike is now playing drums. This is his first tour he has done with us.
Your album has only come out pretty recently (May), was the tour planned way before the album or was it due to the success that the album has achieved?
Jack: The tour was actually booked pretty far in advance, i think that actually it was before the album was even finished. So it’s been in the works for a while. We just wanted to get everything set up and then not have to worry. The timing for it was pretty good too with festivals and everything.
Yeah definitely, I mean, i know you guys are playing all over Europe, are there any festivals or places you are really looking forward to going?
Jack: Yeah, well everywhere, i’ve just come back from a holiday in Italy and this year is the first time i’ve been abroad so we’re pretty much happy to go everywhere. Although i am looking forward to going to Berlin, everyone i know who’s been there have REALLY liked it. Obviously im happy about coming here too, we were all excited about coming to the UK.
It’s ok, you don’t need to say that…
Jack: Oh no no! we honestly were!
I know you guys have only played one UK gig so far (Sheffield) but are there any major differences between crowds or the way people perceive your music?
Jeff: Last night was crazy, it was definitely not what we were expecting! It was the first time we were asked to play an encore, that’s never happened before unless we’ve been playing in a living room where we come from with our parents or something. That was pretty strange. We’re not complaining though!
Jack: That’s not entirely true, we have played a few encores…
Well let’s hope for an encore tonight then!
Nathan: Well we’ll see.
Jack: It’s probably quite early to tell, there were a lot of old guys there though!
Jeff: yeah yeah, some of them were going crazy, I guess they like all the 80’s music…
So you guys had driven down from Sheffield last night, how’s the tour bus?
Jack: (glancing sidewards at the manager) Yeah, well Ricky (manager) has just bought a new van so it’s pretty nice.
Nathan: Yeah, we are the first people to use it, it even has windows in it…
Jack: No seriously, it’s quite a luxury. It’s been really nice actually, in the states we had got used to carrying our stuff around ourselves. I had to buy a van.
You guys have a lot of kit to get around?
Jack: Yeah, well, just band stuff. Guitars, drums, keyboards, you couldn’t walk around with it!
You guys obviously like playing with each other, given that Gemini was a solo album, is their any chance of you guys embarking on a project together?
Jack: well i dunno, maybe. At the moment we are basically just enjoying touring around Europe. We have also got another tour during the fall back in the states and then we are coming back here (UK) in November. It’s pretty hectic.
A pretty busy year then!
Jack: Yeah! I would like to try and record some more this year, I might try and get another album done if i can. It’s just gonna be hard to find the time so I guess we’re just gonna try and enjoy the now.
So, did you guys all have to learn all the songs? How was that?
Mike: We did and because this is my first tour they all had to teach me the songs in a week!
nathan: Jeff and i had been learning the songs for the last 8 months and Jack would just teach us as and when they were ready so its been continuous for us.
Jack: Not for Mike though!
Nathan: It’s cool though, the sound translates differently to a live audience, songs take on different dynamics. That’s something we have developed as a band, so things change.
Yeah, There is a lot of synth to the Wild Nothing sound, how have you guys managed that during live performances?
Nathan: I play with like 9 keyboards on stage so…
Nathan: Well not really, sure feels like it though!
Jack: We do have synth but we only use it live for a few songs. I mean, it is kind of interesting though because the record is synth heavy and employs a lot of textures and layers and stuff so it’s quite refreshing playing to people. We can accomplish most of it live but there’s still loads of stuff that you just can’t humanly do on the stage. that’s kind of gonna happen though if your playing live, to me it feels like i’m part of a proper rock band or something! it’s pretty cool.
Mike: The sound is pretty stripped down, we play songs a lot faster too, it’s a different vibe.
I don’t know how often you guys google yourself but you’ve been described as all sorts of different things. I’m talking about you being a return to ‘shoe gaze’ as well as ‘surf pop’ and ‘wave’ music. How do you feel about all these genres that are pretty tricky to pin down?
Jack: Well i guess I feel pretty good about it. I mean I love shoe gaze music and i feel it’s been a really big influence to me. If i’m honest I haven’t really heard us being called surf pop but then i haven’t really looked…
Wild Nothing are kind of being mentioned in the same category as Best Coast and other bands, have you noticed this?
Mike: Yeah, that seems super weird to me, I had a look on ebay and people are actually selling our records together with records from Best Coast and Waves and stuff, it’s cool but I feel that we actually sound quite different.
Jack: We seem to get put with other signifiers in our ‘genre’
Have you met any of these bands such as Neon Indian and Real Estate that you’re compared to?
Jack and Jeff: We actually toured with Neon Indian back in the states last June and we met Real Estate last month!
Nathan: It’s really fun to meet those guys and see who we are compared to. It is odd because as bands it seems like we are interacting with each other through our styles of music but not having actually met each other. We went to some bars in New York though and met loads of those guys.
Have you ever played with any other bands?
Jack: Yeah we have, we played together at a Real Estate show we did. We are massive fans of Real Estate and their music so it was very fun.
Mike: yeah that was really great show, I wasn’t actually playing at the time *laughter* but it seemed cool from the crowd…
It seems a pretty cliche question, but do you guys have a favourite song? Or a song that transfers the best to a live show?
Jack: Well kind of as I was saying there is less synth and textures live so songs that work really well are ones that are guitar based on the record. But i mean, we still play loads of songs that are really synth heavy such as Confirmation
Just to point out, that’s my favourite song…
Jack: Ahh is it? cool! yeah, it just depends on the night and what the audience seem to enjoy.
Mike: we have just worked out Chinatown which is starting to sound really good.
Nathan: i think it’s great that to make up for the synthy stuff the songs come across a little rockier. But then again, it’s not as pad or synth heavy so if you were to hear it as a record it may not be anywhere as interesting because it just wouldn’t be as layered.
Would you be tempted to record any live shows, the sound is obviously different so do you think your fans that cant reach your shows might like to hear?
Nathan: Venues have recorded our live songs before, it just hasn’t been distributed!
Jack: It is something that we have talked about, we are doing a radio session in London in a couple of days for XFM.
I’ll be sure to have a look!
Jeff: They’ll probably put it online so don’t worry if you miss it!
Jack: I’d be interested because with me doing the record on my own it meant i was pretty limited with recording. I mean, there weren’t any live drums on there so that is definitely something i would like to experiment with in the future. I really think it would bring a whole new interesting sound to the music.
Let’s talk about the album for a bit, it was a solo project so how long did it take you to do. Have the songs been churning away for years?
Jack: Well not really, i just kind of wrote and recorded ‘em as they came to me. We were in school so i didn’t really have a lot of time at the start to focus on the album. It probably took me like 7 months to finish the whole album.
You guys didn’t all go to the same university did you though?
Jeff: Well Nathan, Jack and I did.
Mike: yeah, me and Jack were friends at high school and friends ever since so so that is how I got involved.
Well Thankyou very much guys, it’s been a pleasure and i wish you all the best!
Wild Nothing: No, thankyou!
After the interview i stopped by and watched them play, they were right, it does sound different to the album. That in itself is more than enough reason for me to recommend seeing them for any fan or just generally anyone with an interest in hearing great live music. For me, confirmation was a must-hear live.
Oh and yes, for all those wondering, they did get an encore.
Here’s a download of my personal favourite for you lucky peoples out there