This Wild Life have an interesting history in their short time as a group already. Transitioning from your run of the mill pop-punk outfit into a soft, melodic and emotional acoustic duo, the group has been making waves. Having amassed hundreds of thousands of video views, over one-hundred thousand followers on Twitter and eighty-thousand likes on Facebook, This Wild Life are enjoying healthy acclaim. On their trip down under supporting Johnny Craig, we managed to speak with the duo, Kevin Jordan [vocals] and Anthony Del Grosso [guitar] backstage in Melbourne about touring, new album ‘Clouded’ and the reason why they moved to an acoustic duo.
How’s the tour been going so far?
Anthony Del Grosso: It’s been great, been a lot of fun.
Kevin Jordan It’s been awesome because you never know what it’s going to be like coming to a new country. I mean, you’re not sure if people will know you but we’ve had actual fans come along and see us so it’s been great.
This Wild Life were a full band before you were an acoustic duo, how are you finding the transition?
Jordan: It’s a different vibe no doubt. It’s not so much about the energy as it is about the passion. Performance wise it’s more about us sounding good than looking good. For some bands, they can sacrifice the musical aspect for the performance aspects like when I go to see letlive. I don’t expect it to sound like the record, I expect it to be a nutty punk show. So for us it’s about people wanting to hear the songs as they were on the record. It’s about us playing well and connecting with people.
‘Clouded’ is out this month. Epitaph putting it out…
Jordan: Well we recorded the album, [Clouded] in August [last year] and we were planning on self-releasing it before we got signed to Epitaph. It was originally going to come out in November but I’m glad we took the time with it to do it the right way by doing it through Epitaph.
Del Grosso: It’s opened doors, I’d say.
Jordan: Yeah, they [Epitaph] have a bigger globe to work with.
Yeah, it’s going to go out to a far larger audience with them.
Jordan: Exactly, so more people are going to hear it this way.
By doing it independently do you think it encapsulated what you, as a band, wanted from the record as opposed to having outside influences from the label or producer?
Jordan: The typical answer is; and the answer is, yes for us, yet I think with Epitaph it’s going to be different. See, they really believe in our creative vision and they’re not telling us how to look or what to write, they just want our vision. So I don’t think it would be different if they had been involved.
Del Grosso: It would’ve been the same CD, no doubt.
That’s really awesome to hear that, especially with a big label such as them. And being a big label, what was it like when you got contacted by them to be signed or confirm the signing?
Jordan: (Laughs) Well we were actually tracking part of the record when we got contacted. I was in the tracking room and Anthony was in the control room and I can hear him through a talk-back mic. He says to me, ‘Hey, I just got an email from a guy named Brett Gurewitz, says he wants to talk us.’ And I just said, ‘You’re fucking with me, right?’ (Laughs) He knows who Bad Religion is but didn’t put the two together.
Del Grosso: I didn’t know his name. (Laughs)
Jordan: We were set on self-releasing the record as we’d been a DIY band for years and were planning to be, so never in a million years did we think we’d be paired with a label like Epitaph.
Del Grosso: It doesn’t seem real!
Jordan: I still don’t know what to think about it. I still don’t think I can sit at the cool kids table! I don’t think I have enough punk-points even though we’re signed to Epitaph.
I guess the main question I wanted to ask you and I know a lot of my friends want to know is why’d you make the move to acoustic? I listened to the pop-punk EP you did and it’s VERY different in a lot of ways in terms of tone and feel. So why the move?
Del Grosso: Yeah, we were a pop-punk band for a few years actually.
Jordan: I think the change happened kind of organically for us. I did an acoustic cover of one of our songs. And it got a lot of attention online and the comments were positive. People seemed to like my voice paired up with an acoustic guitar. We then started doing some acoustic covers and writing some acoustic songs and on the fan side of things, they seemed to gravitate more towards the acoustic stuff. Without realising it, we had never done anything like that previously. We’d never focused on that with like an acoustic show or something like that. We’d always one full band shows. Our first one was with The Wonder Years and we’ve done shows with The Story So Far and Transit. So we started thinking that this was an option for us. This was something we could pursue full time and out our effort into. We kind of just felt like we had done what we could with pop-punk.
Del Grosso: Pop Punk was done for us so we broke up the pop-punk side of things and we said we should go down the acoustic avenue we’ve never really tried. I mean, I love writing the music, it’s really fun to me. So we explored that option and so far it’s been great.
So you think it’s easier or harder to do acoustic songs versus full band ones?
Jordan: I think it comes more naturally but I’d say it’s harder. In a full band if I stuff up a guitar note then no one will notice because there’s loud drums and a guitar with distortion and a bass player.
Del Grosso: Yeah, live was way easier for us. If I was playing drums and I hit the wrong drum because I was going so hard and fast then it wouldn’t be a big deal. Whereas now with the acoustic stuff, it’s very bare so it’s a lot harder to play our songs right and still try and look into it and get the crowd into it.
How do you like to craft your songs? Do you start off with some chords and maybe a fingerpicking melody and go from there or is it all over the shop in terms of ideas going around?
Del Grosso: Pretty much what you just said. It normally stars off with a really basic guitar riff and then the other person hears it and we go back and forth. I’m really good at writing a riff and whatnot but Jordan‘s really good at structuring. Like I’ll play him a riff and a melody or a structure will just pop into his head. So I’ll write a bunch of riffs and show them to him and if he’s not feeling a melody I’ll either re-work the riff or get rid of it completely. And when he comes up with something from the riffs and we think the whole things cool, we will sit down and work on it and just go back and forth forever till we’re happy.
It seem like it’s very natural.
Del Grosso: Yeah, it is very natural.
Jordan: We don’t have a formula to our songs. If we did then all our songs would sound similar and it would be repetitive.
So, Kevin, where do you like to go in terms of lyric content?
Jordan: I genuinely write down lyrics here and there. Like, if I’m listening to music or watching movie and something pops into my head I’ll write it down. Yet, I generally don’t expand on it until I have a song to expand them with. Kind of like what Anthony was saying, if he was to write a riff and I liked it, I’d expand on some lyrics I have because the riff or whatever evokes some kind of emotion and makes me think, ‘This is what I want it to sound like musically.’ So I kind of think of look back on the topics or the lyrics I’ve done and want to explore and go from there.
Del Grosso: It’s the same as writing music, it’s like your opening riff. You make that and then you structure everything around that.
And with you, Anthony, do you like to have an input on lyrics or do you think it should be Kevin’s job?
Del Grosso: I tend to just enjoy the lyrics and we talk about the subject and what it means but the only input I really have is maybe changing a word or two on three or so songs overall. But I’m not that good with grammar in general or structure or melody for that matter, that’s all Kev.
Jordan: I think with vocals, when you sing about personal stuff it becomes emotional, not saying there isn’t emotion in guitar playing, there definitely is. But I think when you write personal and open it up to other people to write it for you, it loses [that connection].
Del Grosso: Just like Blink-182, you’ll only really hear a Mark [Hoppus] song and a Tom [DeLonge] song because they don’t write it together. It’s their idea and they just run with it, it’s their vision. That’s a lot like him. I don’t really change much, just little things here and there. I mean, what am I going to tell him to write about his past. I didn’t even know him at the time when he wrote some of these lyrics.
Jordan: It’s personal, and it should be personal. Collaboration is great, I think that’s awesome but I think if you have too many cooks in the kitchen per say, it becomes diluted and watered down. I never work on vocals when he’s in the room. It’s a scary thing when you expose it for the first time and I like to go through it a few times and refine it. I simply can’t pickup a guitar and sing a new sing, I can’t even do it when anyone’s in the house I have to be so alone to do it and i think that’s when the really good honest stuff comes out and there’s something special in that.
Just listening to all of this, it seems like it has been fate the way you’ve both come together and have it gel so brilliantly.
Jordan: Yeah, it is and I think our strengths and weaknesses contrast each other. Anthony is really prolific in that he’s good at jumping off points in songs and getting ideas flowing. Whereas I can pickup a guitar and write ten different things and hate them all.
Del Grosso: Yet Kevin’s really great at the structure so he’ll take the verse or the chorus or the intro and just run with it because it’s just as hard for me to structure it.
Jordan: It’s good though because we’re both guitarists and most of our songs are two parts, [one] to each guitar. Whether it’s some fingerpicking over some chords or a lead line over some chords. I think it’s good because some acoustic singer doesn’t have as much layering as we do. Do we take advantage of the fact that there’s two of us and so rarely will we be playing the same thing.
Del Grosso: Especially on the new CD [‘Clouded’] there’s isn’t even one song where that happens.
It gives it a fuller sound as such.
Jordan: Yeah, it gives it more depth. You can beef something up by having two people playing the same thing but you create depth by having two complementary parts.
So I was looking at your website and I noticed you did a tour with Being As An Ocean, A Lot Like Birds, Idlehands and My Iron Lung which, being an acoustic group to tour with those bands, is a bit "out there". So my question is where do you see yourself in the music scene? Where do you think you fit in, if at all?
Del Grosso: We don’t fit in (laughs).
Jordan: We think it’s more beneficial to stand out then it is to fall in line. That’s why you’ll never see us in tour with other acoustic groups really as we like to be the odd man out.
Del Grosso: And we love those bands so it’s a win win. I mean, we’ll always tour with bands we like and listen to regularly. Because that’s honestly the stuff we listen to. We’re fans of heavy music to pop punk music. We were talking to a heavy band the other day and they said when they’re in the van they listen to soft, acoustic stuff and we thought that was fun t because when we go on drives we listen to Like Moths to Flames! I think it’s funny how that works out.
So where did you get the name, This Wild Life?
Jordan: Well originally it was This Wildlife, as two words. But if you put that into google, you get a bunch of monkey and trees so that’s not a very good marketing tool! (Laughs)
Del Grosso: You think about it longer than anything else you ever will in your band as you represent the name. The Foo Fighters documentary, at the end , Dave Grohl says, "If I knew we were going to be so big, I wouldn’t have named it fucking Foo Fighters, that’s a terrible name for a band" it’s like that pretty much (laughs). But the twitter, YouTube and MySpace name were all available at the time so it was easily accessible to people without underscores and slashes in the URL.
Jordan: You have such a difficult time coming up with it and your think about it so much, then when you do your first release and it’s out there, you never think about it again.
But does it mean anything to you guys or does it mean Jack-shit and you just thought it was cool?
Jordan: Bingo! (Laughs)
Del Grosso: (Laughs) That is pretty much it! What we did was, when we were in a full band, any word you see you send as a text. So if I saw a sign that said, ‘No Smoking’, I’d send it as a text. It was just to get ideas flowing and to spit ball it all together. It was originally The Wildlife but then we came up with This Wild Life and I think I was out with my friends and I asked them if This Wild Life sounded normal and they all thought it did. Like, would you think twice if I said our band name was This Wild Life?
Jordan: See my favourite band is Thrice and that’s fucking terrible for a band name!
Del Grosso: (in mocking, whiney voice) My favourite is Blink-182!
It was more about the creativity and the music as opposed to having an awesome name.
Jordan: Exactly, we wanted us to represent the name, not the other way around. And I don’t even think half our fans think about it at all. We want This Wild Life to just be us two dudes, playing music.
Del Grosso: I have Brand New tattooed on my arm and I have never thought once why it’s called that. Brand New, another terrible band name! (Laughs) Try and type in "Brand New Shirts" or "Brand New Music" into google! It’s a nightmare!
Stream the full album below.