After dropping one of the best acoustic albums of 2014, Clouded, This Wild Life has continued to impress audiences as they toured the end of the year with headliners Sleeping With Sirens and Pierce The Veil on the first leg of their world tour. Playing as the odd man out, guitarist/lead singer Kevin Jordan explains to MEB editor Emma Guido about the writing process of Clouded and how This Wild Life blend with the much heavier lineup on tour.
MEB: If you can sum up your band briefly for someone who has never heard of you guys, how would you describe This Wild Life?
Kevin: We’re a two-piece melodic acoustic band. We don’t really fit in with the singer-songwriter world as much as we do with the Warped Tour scene. Not musically, but according to the tours we choose to play on and the bands we try to surround ourselves with, so we come from more of a punk background than a folk background.
This band has had a really productive year. You’ve dropped an album, been on Warped Tour, and are now on this world tour with PTV and SWS. What has been one of your favorite moments for This Wild Life this year?
Warped Tour was the big one for me. It was super exciting and humbling to be able to be on the whole tour. We always remind ourselves of what we were doing a year ago today, and we were just sitting at home without our album even being mixed yet. We didn’t really have anything going for us this time last year, so to go from that to being out on tour full-time and playing the shows we are now is crazy.
What have you guys been taking from these great experiences out on the road as a duo?
We are just trying to enjoy it, because sometimes things in the music industry can be so fleeting that we can be having a decent amount of success right now, but in a year from now our band can fizzle out or be around for the next ten years. I try not to think so far in advance and just enjoy each show. We’re just having a really good time. This year has been super fun for us. It’s been challenging in a lot of ways, but it’s been really rewarding as well.
You guys played Warped Tour this year for the first time as an acoustic duo. How did you feel being part of this lineup that is significantly based on heavier genres and sounds?
We prefer to not fit in. We’d rather be the odd man out because I think that helps us stand out a bit. We don’t want to go out and do acoustic tours; we want to be the band that’s on a tour with Beartooth. They come on right after us and they are the complete polar opposite. Honestly, that’s the style we really listen to; we don’t listen to much acoustic music and that’s the scene we grew up listening to. We still want to be a part of it even though we aren’t playing that style.
Again on this tour, you are playing shows with many heavier acts involved. How has being surrounded by these different musical styles affected you as a musician?
I listen to a lot of different kinds of music because it’s so accessible, but I think not everything directly influences the way we write our songs or interact with fans. Not everything has a direct influence, but I think you take something away from everything that you take in. We aren’t going to be doing stage dives off stage, yet (laughs), but there are things we take away from these bands, but not all of them are super obvious.
How have crowds been reacting to your sets on this tour?
The kids that are coming out to these shows are younger and generally receptive to listening to new music. They seem to be pretty open-minded. Beartooth are the odd man out as well; they are the heaviest band on this tour. The kids at these shows don’t listen to hardcore or much acoustic music, so it’s been really good. They just seem excited to check out new music. We are playing for a lot of people who have no idea who we are, but we also are playing for a good amount of crossover fans.
Clouded is such a fresh album to the music scene. I feel that acoustic music as its own genre is a really interesting style. What made you decide to take this musical direction?
We started off as a four-piece pop-punk band. Anthony played drums and I originally played lead guitar. We actually started off as a five-piece: we had a singer, but he quit and I started singing. We were writing pop punk songs and they were good, but not great or special. When I was writing them, I was having a lot of fun with them, but from a songwriting stance, I wasn’t really writing songs that meant a whole lot to me. I just didn’t feel inspired to actually write about things that I was struggling with in my life, or something like that. Yet, whenever I sat down with an acoustic guitar and Anthony, those were the times I’d feel inspired to write about the things that I was struggling with. Those songs just seem to stick with people more; they stuck with us. We were more passionate about writing those songs so we gravitated towards that and Clouded was the first record of just us on acoustic.
I completely get what you are saying. Anytime I listen to an acoustic version of a song I always seem to take in the meaning a lot more vividly.
Exactly. There’s not as much to hide behind. With full bands that have the drums, distortion, etc., it’s really easy to hide crappy lyrics or melody because it’s loud. When you have an acoustic song, if the lyrics and melody aren’t good, there is nothing that’s going to save it. A good, strumming acoustic guitar isn’t going to make a good song; it’s going to take a lot more than that. When I’m writing those songs I feel a little more pressure to focus on exactly what I’m trying to get across. I’ve always thought that acoustic music speaks a little more than full band stuff can, but each of them have their strengths and weaknesses.
When you were in the studio making the album, did anything you came up with surprise you?
We had most of the record written before we went into the studio. I record, so I do a lot of preproduction and I work through a couple versions of the song before we go into the studio, but even then, when having demos fully done for the record, a lot of stuff still changes once you get in there. The reason that we recorded with a guy named Aaron Marsh is because he’s really good with things like pianos, strings, and adding bass guitar and bells, things like that. We knew we wanted there to be layers to the songs and we knew we wanted each song to have a different voice. We basically thought, “Hey, if we are going to go in and record ten acoustic songs, it’s going to be boring as fuck.” I don’t even want to listen to a record that is just a guitar and just my voice droning on and on. We tried to go in there and add layers to it and give it more sonic depth than just guitar.
What do you want listeners and fans to take from it?
That’s always a tough one, because when we are writing songs – it sounds selfish – but we don’t write songs for anybody but ourselves. We’re writing the songs we want to listen to. We’re writing the record that we want to hear. I don’t really think about the end user as much when I’m making a song. We never think about that stuff until there’s a full mix of it and we are like “Oh shit, we have to release this now. People are actually going to hear this.” I just hope people can tell that it is something we are passionate and sincere about and not something we are bullshitting.
What do This Wild Life plan on doing next?
This tour is the end of this year’s tour cycle. We are going to be home for a couple months and start writing. However, we are probably not going to put out another record until 2016 because we have so many tours lined up for next year. The way that it works for us is that there are still so many people who have no idea who we are. To many of these people, although for us it is a year and a half old, the record is new. As long as we keep getting opportunities to go out and support bands and play in front of audiences who don’t know who we are, we are just going to keep doing that. We really want the record to have as much longevity as possible. We will start writing, but we probably won’t record until the end of 2015. We will probably put out some singles next year, just to keep things exciting for us and the fans.
Do you find it easier or harder to write on the road?
We’ve written a little bit on the road, but most of it was this past year. We’ve done a little bit of touring and have written a little, but I found it very difficult to actually write a song because there is always so much going on. I don’t want to be the asshole in the green room droning on an acoustic guitar and hammering out lyrics (laughs). I write a lot of lyrics, but as far as writing guitar parts or actual song structure, it’s fucking hard to write on the road.
What are you most excited for in the near future?
Next year we have some really cool tours. The only one we’ve announced so far is Soundwave in Australia. Think of Warped Tour if Warped Tour had huge bands like Green Day or Slipknot playing it. It’s these gigantic festival dates, so I’m really excited about that. Then we have a tour in March and April and we are going out with one of our favorite bands of all time, but we haven’t announced it yet. It’s one of those tours where it’s like “Holy shit! To think that I was listening to this band at twelve years old and we get to tour with them now.” We’re just excited to tour a bunch and play more shows. We’ve been trying to step up our live show; we kind of got thrown feet first into playing these live shows for kids who are used to seeing full bands perform, so we are trying to do different things and see if we can find our own way of having a fun live show. We just want to keep building on that and getting better.