Introducing: Wildhoney + Q&A

Within one year, Baltimore’s group Wildhoney released 2 impressive efforts: the debut album, Sleep Through It, and the EP Your Face Sideways. Those two releases were more than enough reasons for us to catch up with the band and guitarist Joe Trainor was the one that told us all about that.

Wildhoney was formed back in 2011. Tell us a little bit about Wildhoney’s story and how has been the journey for you as a musician.
We started in 2011 and we had a handful of line up changes. The beginnings of the band seem less important at this point, but you know, Alan [bassist] and I had the desire to play loud guitar pop music. At the time our references were like Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine and stuff like that, and over time it has evolved, like stepping further and further from the initial shoegaze thing. It’s not interesting stuff at all at this point. Just because you have loud guitars and there’s a wall of sound, it doesn’t necessarily mean to be tag shoegaze, you know? It’s certainly important to form our songwriting, but not all of it.

As one of the songwriters of the band, how would you describe the process of writing a Wildhoney’s song?
Between the demo and our most recent EP, 9 times out of 10 it would be me writing all the songs, like writing all the guitar stuff on an acoustic guitar without pedals. The pedals would come later when I brought to the rest of the band and then we plush out the music and fill it out, and then Lauren [vocalist] would put her vocals on top of the arrangements we made. Sometimes we change certain arrangements to fit around Lauren’s melodies and stuff like that, but most of the time it wasn’t really like that. With what we’re doing for the next record and the first couple of songs we’ve written for the new record, it’s been more than me sitting in a room with an acoustic guitar. We’re coming up with the melodies before doing any other arrangement.

Wild Honey is the name of the Beach Boys’ 1967 album. Was that choice for your band’s name inspired by that record?
We did get it from the Beach Boys’ record for sure. We all love the Beach Boys. It’s one of Lauren’s obsessions, she can talk all day and all night about the Beach Boys. And also, we felt like the name kind of described our sound really good in terms of a mixture of the wild guitar stuff and the sweet melodies.

One funny thing that happened recently was that a pressing plant mistakenly put your debut album on vinyl records labeled and packaged for Lana Del Rey’s the 2012 album Born to Die. Do you know how did that happen?
[laughs] As far as I know, what happened was our record and her [Lana Del Rey] record were being re-pressed at the same time and for some reason our record got pressed in 10.000 copies of her record. They got sent out to stores and that’s what happened. People started to emailing us, sending us messages and tweeting at us like “Hey, I bought this record but it’s your record.” We’ve never heard anything from Lana Del Rey, despite us trying to tweet at her like “Hey, what’s up?” but you know, I have no idea if she ever found out about it. It’s a pretty wild thing that has happened. [laughs]

Early last year, you guys released your debut album Sleep Through It and now you release another EP. When did begin the writing for this EP?
From the time we had finished writing and recording the LP, we hadn’t written anything in a month and so we were pretty hungry to start writing again. A lot of the songs came together pretty quickly. I really wanted to try some different things. Once again, from the shoegaze tag or just trying different things… Just having different influences shining through that never shined through before, which it was like early R.E.M. and stuff like that, like early mid-80’s kind of jangled guitar stuff. The idea was to have the A-side to be a pop record and then the B-side to be this kind of long and mostly instrumental avant-garde, showing the more experimental side of us.

On the record Sleep Through It, there’s the hypnotic instrumental track “FSA” and on this new EP there’s a continuation of it, “FSA II”, but this one is much longer. What was the idea behind these two songs?
To get extremely nerdy about things, “FSA” stands for Flying Saucer Attack and for me, that’s a phenomenal influence on me as a guitar player and as a composer with productive ideas for production. The band Flying Saucer Attack is an amazing band and on their record they have these songs called “Popol Vuh 1”, “Popol Vuh 2” and “Popol Vuh 3” and I think they have five of them. Popol Vuh is like a 70’s kraut-rock band and so I wanted to do something similar to that on our record. The first one was my first attempt at doing something a little more far out, but when it came to the second one I really wanted to simply have a whole B-side of a 12”. I really wanted to try to explore what we could do sonically with the kind of normal instrumentation that we had. It was recorded and mixed over 2 days on a tape and it basically started off as a I showed Zach [drummer] this drum beat that I really liked by this guy named Craig Leon. He is an ambient artist and Zach took that idea and made up a drum loop on a drum machine, and then we did go from top of that. It was all done live. There’s no loop pedal… The original recording of it was 50 minutes long and everyone played their part for 50 minutes without any loops or anything. We thought that the A-side would be something you would listen to and then the B-side would be something that you could put on when you’re about to get to bed, because it’s like a peaceful, ambient music. Ambient music is a deep part of what a lot of us like to do.

You guys are going to begin to demo new songs for the next album. What can we expect from that?
Yeah, we are demoing for LP 2. Our plan right now is to mainly record the next LP this time next year, but we never really had time, we feel like we bought some time to really work on it because we put out an LP and an EP in one year. We really want to take our time. We have pop iPhone demos of the first two new songs and our joke titles for them are like “Belle & Sebastian 1” and “R.E.M. 1”. The first two songs are definitely like we’re going on that kind of direction and like having strings and horns and stuff like that on the new record.

What is your favorite record of 2015?
There’s a group from Baltimore called Blacksage and they put out a tape called Basement Vows and that’s by far my favorite record of the year. It’s dark pop, they’re a duo, it’s electronic and it’s very sexual. The singer Josephine has the most intense and beautiful voice. Her lyrics are really… as she would describe them very porny. Their tape is just absolutely fantastic. In terms of a bigger act, I have to say the new Beach House record is really great. The new Björk is also fantastic, Blur’s new album is really good… This year has been a great year in music.

Words by Andreia Alves
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