A Chat with The Wilderness (23.10.2020)

The truly international band, The Wilderness, have been releasing music since 2015. They are now here to captivate your senses with their first full-length album Until Tomorrow. Consisting of Jonas Lewis-Anthony (lead vocals, guitar), Alexander Sacha Lansky (lead guitar, backing vocals), Karl Tombak (bass), Henry Lawrence (drums, backing vocals), Nicholas Lennox (saxophone, percussion, backing vocals) and Liam Neale (keyboard, percussion), the band takes on the pandemic, social isolation and much more across the album. We sat down with Nicholas Lennox to talk about the album, their creative process, released singles and much more!

OSR: How did the band first get together?

Lennox: The band started as a quartet when Jonas saw Karl, Sasha, and Henry performing together at an open-mic in downtown Kingston. Apparently, he begged them to start a band on the spot. Liam joined a couple of years later, after accompanying the band on a tour. Originally he was just going to drive the van and help load gear, but it turned out he could hold his own on stage too. I joined after the band had me on for a couple of important gigs and then simply declared on my behalf that I was an official member and was obligated to be present at any following shows (it was consensual, I promise).

OSR: Is there a backstory or theme to your latest album Until Tomorrow?

Lennox: Until Tomorrow isn’t a concept album per se but it does have some underlying themes. One arc which I like to think about is who our singer, Jonas, might be addressing in any given moment. Some songs he’s speaking to a partner, some to a group of colleagues, others read like a soliloquy speaking out into the open. If you follow this theme, the album has an interesting arc that begins with a personal dialogue about relationships which eventually goes on to confront much broader issues such as climate change and the threat of conflict. Ultimately, the album ends with a resignation to the future which finds a certain comfort in the uncertainty of it all.

OSR: As this is your first full-length album, what was the biggest challenge you faced creating it?

Lennox: Easily the biggest challenge was tying it all together, both in terms of making the songs cohesive and arranging them to fit into the album overall. There’s a pretty diverse array of songs and styles on this album, and we view this as a strength, but it made for a challenge while recording because that process involved trying to make each song fit into our band’s overall style while maintaining the individuality of the songs. Furthermore, arranging these compositions into something with some sort of stylistic arc proved to be a difficult puzzle, but ultimately one which was incredibly rewarding.

OSR: What was your creative process for the album? Did you start with a concept or a single that you worked around?

Lennox: That completely depends on the tune and who wrote it. We went on a writing retreat to St-Andre-Avellin, Quebec this January and everyone had a different process. Jonas, for example, would wake up with the sun, feed the chickens, chop wood for the woodstove, and play the guitar quietly while the rest of us slept. In that privacy, he’d come up with brilliant lyrics and melodies.

Others, like myself, preferred to share their songs at night after they’d had some time to percolate. For some songs like ‘Citalopram Blues’, making them performance-ready was as easy as running them with the band a few times, whereas for others like ‘You, the Ocean’, we went into the studio having never performed the tune and relied on charts to get us through it.

OSR: Your latest single ‘Graveyard’ is the third off the album, why release this track as a single?

Lennox: We felt that ‘Graveyard’ was one of the strongest songs on the album and that it deserved to shine as a single. It’s fast, action-packed, subtly complex, and it really showcases what the band is about, musically. Honestly, we thought “this tune slaps” and we ran with it.

OSR: How do you feel this single compares to the others you have released from the album?

Lennox: ‘Graveyard’ has an almost pop-punk flair and, because of that, it really stands out from the other two singles. Whereas ‘Pick You Up’ is a nostalgic summer anthem and ‘If I Have to Die’ is pensive and fiery, ‘Graveyard’ drives the line in-between the two, struggling with feeling stuck in a cyclical relationship with both the summer haze and the anxiety of modern life. Ultimately, all three hit hard in different ways, and pairing these three climactic points together gives a good overview of what listeners can expect from the album at large.

The Wilderness

OSR: You have also released an official music video for the single, how did you determine the creative direction for this?

Lennox: Our videographer Céline Klein had a very strong vision for this video. The underlying concept grappling of the song was grappling with the worst parts of yourself and feeling trapped in a cycle of working to make rent, sleeping too little, and drinking the nights away. To manifest this, Céline drew on a lot of old-school horror and German expressionist film. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say there’s a twist, and that idea was all Céline!

OSR: If people could listen to only one song on Until Tomorrow, which would you suggest and why?

Lennox: This is a really tough call! I would have to say the album’s opener, ‘Where I Roam’ because it showcases everything the band has to offer; four-part harmonies, descriptive lyricism, funky guitar lines, loads of percussion, heavy saxophone, all of it is there. My second choice would be ‘You, the Ocean’ because it’s super expressive and really pushes the band’s pre-existing style, but I’m also biased because I wrote it.

OSR: What is the one emotion you would like people to feel while listening to your music?

Lennox: Introspection or self-reflectiveness is a central emotion for the record. Much of our writing deals with contextualizing relationships amid the challenges of contemporary life and ultimately rests on the fact that sometimes the only thing we can control is ourselves. The earlier half of the record is full of nostalgia for simpler times, and the latter half focuses on the acceptance of what has changed, all of which is presented as an internal dialogue for the listener.

OSR: What do you have planned for the next 12 months?

Lennox: We miss touring terribly, but of course that’s no possible at the moment, so we’re trying to stay as creative as we can in the meantime! We’ve got a series of live-off-the-floor recordings to support our album which will be released over the coming months, and we’ve also been busy writing our next record. We’ve been also posting demos and sketches on our Patreon page for any who are interested in hearing!

Thanks to Nicholas Lennox for chatting with us! You can find more about The Wilderness on their Facebook, Instagram and Spotify.

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