Band of the Day

2011.11.14

Wild Nothing

A nostalgic trip through 80s indie dream-pop perfection
Because our lips won't last forever And that's exactly why I'd rather live in dreams.
lyrics from Live in Dreams

Wild Nothing is an ‘80s new wave inspired indie pop act from Brooklyn, New York. The group was founded by multi-instrumentalist Jack Tatum while he was attending Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia. Upon graduating in the summer of 2009, Tatum moved to Brooklyn, New York and recruited Jeff Haley, Nathan Goodman and Michael Skattum for Wild Nothing's live performances. The band's sound is influenced by ‘80s new romantics the Smiths, the Cure, Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine. After releasing two singles and two EPs during 2009 and 2010, Wild Nothing released their debut LP Gemini on Captured Tracks Records in 2010. The album was voted one of the top 50 albums of 2010 by Amazon.com's editors.

Wild Nothing is the solo project of young multi-instrumentalist Jack Tatum. A native of Virginia, Tatum began recording under the name Wild Nothing in the summer of 2009 while attending Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia. Despite these recent origins, Wild Nothing could be easily mistaken for an English indie band circa 1989. Tatum’s songs are lo-fi pop nuggets awash in nostalgia, a tidy mixture of the Cure, My Bloody Valentine and the Smiths. The dreamy haze of jangly guitars and 80s synths creates the perfect background for the adolescent longing throughout Wild Nothing’s music. We spoke with Tatum while he was hanging out at his home in Savannah, Georgia on break from touring.

Wild Nothing is the solo project of young multi-instrumentalist Jack Tatum. A native of Virginia, Tatum began recording under the name Wild Nothing in the summer of 2009 while attending Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia. Despite these recent origins, Wild Nothing could be easily mistaken for an English indie band circa 1989. Tatum’s songs are lo-fi pop nuggets awash in nostalgia, a tidy mixture of the Cure, My Bloody Valentine and the Smiths. The dreamy haze of jangly guitars and 80s synths creates the perfect background for the adolescent longing throughout Wild Nothing’s music. We spoke with Tatum while he was hanging out at his home in Savannah, Georgia on break from touring.

Band of the Day: Question: You moved to Brooklyn right?

Jack Tatum: No actually I live in Georgia now. I was considering moving to New York and I told a couple of people, and rumor spread that I'd moved to New York. But no, I'm actually in Savannah, Georgia right now.

Band of the Day: Do you find it difficult to be a musician so far away from musical epicenters?

Jack: I feel like I go back and forth about how I feel about it, because growing up, not a lot of people would come to Virginia, at least not bands that I like. And where I went to school there wasn't a whole lot musically that I was interested in, so I think at first I kind of disliked it and I always wanted to be in a place where there was music and where I could go see shows and be inspired by all this stuff, but I guess I turned it into something productive, and the fact that I wasn't around all that stuff made me want to do it more myself. So in a way it inspired me to write, but now I'm kind of floating back around to the other stand point where I'm tired of not being around music. Sometimes it's tiring on the road and I don't want to be around music all the time, but when I'm off I wish I was around more people that were doing the same thing.

Band of the Day: Does being in a more secluded place artistically make you want to rely more on your record collection?

Jack: For sure. It's hard to say because I've never lived in a place where live music was a huge reality for me. It's always been records, and I've always been like that, I've always been far more interested in records than live music and even still that's true, and it's true for my own music. To me recording and listening to records, having that music set in stone and exist as it is is more exciting. But at the same time I totally recognize the need for live music and it has its place and purpose. I listen to records all day long everyday, it's kind of my life.

Band of the Day: To my ears Wild Nothing's music is experimental but at its heart it's pop songs. What do you think is the best pop song ever written that people wouldn't consider to be a pop song?

Jack: Oh gosh I don't know. I feel like there's a lot of My Bloody Valentine songs that someone people wouldn't consider pop songs but … I don't know. That's hard.

Band of the Day: If there were any songs you could claim as your own what would it be?

Jack: I wish I'd written “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. To me they're the best pop band. Their songs are just so good. There's a million songs. I wish I'd written “There's a Light That Never Goes Out” by the Smiths. Too many to name.

Band of the Day: I get a lot of nostalgic vibes from the music, is nostalgia something you were consciously trying to evoke in your music?

Jack: It wasn't one of the things that I went into it thinking, I want these songs to evoke nostalgia. It's something that just happened. As a person I'm a fairly nostalgic person, I dwell on the past and it seeps into my song writing and a lot of my songs deal with memory and the way in which memory blurs, that kind of stuff, so yeah, it wasn't like I was writing these songs with that in mind, but inherently because of the way that I write that's kind of the person I am, it was there and once the album was together I recognized that for sure and people started saying it, and it made perfect sense to me.

Band of the Day: The lo-fi aspect helps that a lot. In the future will you continue with lo-fi production?

Jack: The plan right now is, I'd love to record in a more pro environment with an engineer or something, that's kind of been my dream since I was young. The kind of the songs that were on the first album, I never intended for them to be lo-fi, it wasn't a stylistic choice, it was just I recorded at home and that was the equipment I had and I made it sound as clean as I could, but it wasn't quite there just because the nature of it. So I think now that the record's been out I'll be able to do what I want with the next one I'm hoping to clean it up a little bit but I'm still doing a lot of recording at home, so it may be a combination of both.

Band of the Day: I know we're in the age of blogs and the Internet where things just spread, but it's so crazy to me that you recorded these songs in your bedroom in Virginia and within a year it's this huge thing that people around the world have heard of. What is the most surreal moment of your experience so far?

Jack: I think I would have said at first, just having an album out, because it is crazy, it's only been a year and half that this all has been going on. That's very very fast for this all to happen. When it first started and the record came out that was the most surreal thing.

Band of the Day: Holding the physical object was the turning point?

Jack: Yeah, having the vinyl and being like wow this is me. This is my record. Somebody actually put it out. It's kind of hard to explain but something about that physical thing was pretty amazing. But just being able to travel -we've been to europe two times- and being in all these amazing places that previously I thought I'd never get to see and playing a show there and seeing people who are really into your music. To me that seems crazy when I take a step back.

Band of the Day: Gemini was in the style of late 80s British indie, will the new record maintain that sound?

Jack: The way in which I did it with the first album, I'm hoping to get away from it a little bit. It was never supposed to be anything more than me trying to emulate these songs that I liked and these bands that I admired. To me the record was an experiment, me honoring these bands that I loved, trying to write songs like them. And I think that was cool and what a lot of people liked about it. But it wasn't taking everything that I'm interested in into account. It was this subsection of me as a songwriter that came out, but that period of music I still have a really strong connection to. I don't mean to say that with the next record I wont want to honor those bands, but I'm trying to introduce more of me into, if that makes sense? It's not so far off, the songs that I've been writing, but it's a little less hazy, they feel more contemporary to me.

Band of the Day: If there was another musical movement that you could embrace, what do you think it would be?

Jack: For me that genre of music was the one thing I found that I could latch onto entirely and have an entire album's worth of material that was written in that style. But there's other genres i'm interested in, like I love Motown music but I'm not going to make a Motown record, that would be silly I couldn't pull it off obviously. There's all kinds of stuff. 60s folk music, bands like Fleetwood Mac, mainstream pop music. I'm trying to find my own way of combining these things, so that hopefully it'll be a good representation of these things I like. At the end of the day for me it's just trying to write good pop songs.

Band of the Day: Any favorite shows or favorite experiences?

Jack: Getting to Europe was amazing, with the music I was writing, getting to play shows in the U.K. was really special to me. All these bands that I was pulling from were U.K. bands. Being able to play there and play in these places where my favorite bands had come from was really special to me.

Band of the Day: Was there an especially strong reception to your music in the U.K.?

Jack: I didn't necessarily feel like it was received better, but it was received differently because the music I was pulling from … they knew. They viewed the music as I did. I feel like a lot of people in the States weren't necessarily as aware of the genre, or care as much. I have a lot of fans in the States that view us as contemporary indie pop rather than a band that pulls from older stuff, and I think those bands and that music is so deeply rooted in the U.K. that they just got it.