The heat of Austin’s folk scene made its way to the big apple on Wednesday, June 25, when Wild Child and Shakes Gravy sold out the Bowery Ballroom in Soho. The two bands have been touring since playing Bonnaroo earlier this month. Guardian Liberty Voice had a chance to interview Alexander Beggins and Kelsey Wilson of the up and coming folk/indie rock band, Wild Child. The two started the band three years ago after meeting while touring with The Migrant. They began making music in the back of the tour bus, and quickly, the songwriting duo turned into a full band, making waves in Austin’s music scene. After the success of their first self–produced album Pillow Talk in 2011, the band released The Runaround in 2013 produced by Ben Kweller. The interview took place that afternoon in the dark and damp basement of the Ballroom, while the band shook the funk of life on the road and prepared for the night’s performance.
Q: When you guys first started writing songs, did you see yourselves getting so big so fast? Where do you think Wild Child is going in the future?
K: We had no idea that anything would happen. We were just writing them for us, and we didn’t even want to show them to anyone. We had done one show just the two of us, and it was so scary… we didn’t think anything would happen.
A: We grew up in a band, not the center of a band, and it’s a totally different beast. Learning how to communicate and talk being the front of the show… It was really scary for us to transition into that. When we started writing it was just for fun.
Q: When (if you can remember) did you first discover your love for music? What were your first musical endeavors?
K: …I have played violin my entire life, but it was always a forced and classical thing… and I didn’t like it. But I got this keyboard when I was eight, and you could insert floppy disks and whatever I played it would print out as sheet music. So I got really excited about listening to all the Bill Withers albums, so I could write all the parts for them and print them out on floppy disk sheet music – pretending that I wrote them. And that was the first time I ever composed anything… just playing with something was so fun even though I didn’t know how to play music, and I wasn’t very good at piano. That was my first taste of ‘yea I think I could do something with this’.
Q: What is it like working with Ben Kweller?
A: Ben is our homeboy now. It was a really cool experience getting to meet him and going through the last album with him. He had called us up one day… we got a voicemail like “Hey, this is Ben Kweller. I love your first album, and I just wanted to drop my name in the hat in case you’re looking for someone to produce the next album. Give me a call back.” And we were like “That’s weird. Here’s someone we idolize, and now he’s calling us up wanting to produce our next record.” We met up and hit if off right away. We met at a dive bar in Austin and talked about music, life, and everything we played at the time… He was really siked about the music, and it just felt like the right thing to do. So we started production of the new album… we went to the studio and we was this really positive force of energy, which we needed.
K: He’s kind of like a dad. A team dad.
A: There are a lot of people, and there are a lot of parts, so we really needed someone to be the guiding light for the record and he was that. He has become one of my really good friends, and he is one of our labels were coming out with right now.
Q: Who have you met so far on tour that brought out your inner “fan-girl’?
K: Alexander loves famous people.
A: I love famous people. We were at CBS this morning during This Morning show. Mark Wahlberg was there, and Kelsey Grammer was there… they were in separate rooms… (But still) we’ve had a lot of encounters.
K: I had an encounter the other day at a festival where I stole a golf cart with some Lumineers, and we started playing Outkast songs later in a Hotel Lobby. Then Killer Mike came up and started rapping along with us.
A: (We) Stayed up till six in the morning the other day with Big Boi.
K: Yea, gambling with Big Boi of Outkast. We had a cool year. We got to hang out with The Avett Brothers a lot. We (also) played before Elton John, and that was amazing.
A: At all these festivals there’s an artist area, with an open bar and catering, and everyone just looks really cool and you know that they’re in a bands. You’re pretty much just sitting there trying to figure out who everyone is, and they’re doing the same thing.
K: Cause everyone looks so cool you can kind of just tell ‘that guys a drummer’, and ‘that’s a bass player’.
Q: You guys have stated in the past that break ups fueled the first album. Have you carried that to the latest album? What’s inspiring you now?
A: I think just the theme of relationships, love, and the loss of love has always been the driving force behind our music. That’s what started it.
K: Now it’s more about cheating, jealousy (laughs), drinking, living on the road, and missing your home. Before it was just these two relationships; we had a lot to say I guess (fifteen songs worth). Now were able to pull from other people’s experiences, and our own experiences. We are always kind of in the same boat relationship wise. Before it was weird break ups, now it’s living on the road when you have a significant other at home. The stuff you deal with in that situation is a whole different beast.
A: We just always write about what were feeling, and we always seem to be in some sort of trouble (laughs).
K: (Laughs) There’s never a loss of material, that’s for sure.
Q: So you guys are headed to Europe soon. What are you looking forward to the most?
A: It’s a lot of our first times going across the pond, so were all really excited. It’s going to be half vacation, half work. Just see a lot of things, do a lot of things, try a lot of things.
K: It’s exciting. We’re playing a music festival in Amsterdam (London Calling), and were headlining Friday night. The headliner the next day is Spoon, who comes from our hometown Austin.
Q: With what you guys have learned so far, what advice would you give starting bands about the music industry?
A: Have fun. That’s what it’s all about.
K: Yea, don’t take yourself too seriously at all.
A: It takes a lot of luck to get anywhere. Just try and meet the right people, and network with everybody.
K: You never know who you’re going to end up working with, so be as kind as you can to everybody… Just have fun because you never know what’s going to happen. We had no intention of doing anything, so we had no expectations. The fact that anything’s happening is just insane. We’re incredibly grateful for it. Just the fact that we can officially call ourselves musicians, that we do this for a living, is crazy…
A: Drink water, a lot of it.
K: Yea, drink lots of water. We call it stupid water.
Shortly after their amped performance at Bowery Ballroom, Wild Child headed down to Savannah, Georgia to begin recording their third album. No word on a release date as of yet, but fans are looking forward to what the group has in store next.
Interview By Morgan Louchen