Somewhere near the end of 2018, I got really into Wild Pink. There was something about the band’s music— like maybe they had thousands of secrets to share and had understood my every struggle — that immediately struck a chord with me, and weeks later, I still can’t stop listening. There’s always some new element to discover when you dig into their music, and there are even occasions, i find myself swearing that the song has taken on an entirely new meaning than the last time I listened. This band is special, and today we’re honored to welcome John of the band to TGE for a chat.
The Grey Estates: Your music often contains references to different locations (Lake Erie, the Hudson Valley, Bedford Falls, etc.) What is it about these places that inspires you? And do you draw on personal experiences from there for your music?
Wild Pink: I think I’m generally more interested in non-fiction so my songs often deal with a specific time and place. It’s also very satisfying to come up with an idea for music and words at the same time so even when a song isn’t about a particular place I’m happy to name a song after wherever i was when the idea came together.
What’s your songwriting process like? Has it changed at all between your releases?
I write everything alone with an acoustic guitar and that’s never really changed. I try to devote as much time to that task as I can. I also generally like to write at night. I have a tendency to obsessively/repeatedly listen to songs I like and I think they make their way into whatever I happen to be working on.
You named a song for my fave Nathan for You episode. What made you decide that?
I love that episode too! For months after I saw it I would say “you’re the wizard of loneliness” a lot in a Boston accent whenever I was alone.
I really love the part in Lake Erie where you sing “You thought you’d never get out.” What was that in reference to? What is that song about? And why name it for Lake Erie?
I’m glad you like that part. I gotta leave the song’s meaning up to the listener though Lake Erie is a very beautiful/inspiring lake. I think that particular lyric about getting out, though specific to me is broad enough for anyone to take away their own meaning. Re: Lake Erie, I’ve got a lot of Western New Yorkers in my life. Go Bills.
I really love how every second of your music is really unexpected and changing. There’s so many ideas in one song. How did you work as a group to land on this sound? Have you learned or changed anything about your musical ideal since 2015?
I like to load up as many ideas as possible/that make sense in each song so I don’t get bored. At the same time I think the songs have gotten more focused since the first ep in 2015. That said, I’ve written a few songs lately with a conventional song structure which has been a fun challenge. With conventional verse-chorus-verse structure it’s easy to lose interest which makes me focus even more on the lyrics I’m writing.
What piece of advice would you give our readers?
Considering your readers love music so much there are maybe some people who play music and are interested in songwriting but haven’t tried yet. My advice would be to start a band!
Are there any other television shows you’d name a song after?
‘All Some Frenchman’s Joke’ is a reference from Fargo Season 2. The record I’m writing now has another TV show reference though I’ll leave it a mystery for now.
What music, snacks, books, etc. inspire you?
I get a ton of inspiration from Ken Burns’ documentaries. I’m reading a book about the American West called ‘The Earth Is Weeping’ that loosely inspired some new songs. It sounds cheesy but honestly driving in a car for hours on tour provides a lot of inspiration too.
What will you be listening to on tour and what food will you be eating?!
Excellent question, as usual we’ll probably eat some wings. At the moment we’re listening to a podcast with David Schwimmer but I zoned out. I’m gonna try and play some Pogues after.
Edit: we’re listening to Alannis Morisette’s Greatest Hits.