We catch up with Wild Club’s Keegan DeWitt for a New Noise grilling to talk film scores, fronting the band and the ultimate Nashville experience
Collectively formed by Brooklyn hailing, Nashville based Keegan DeWitt and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Bullock, Wild Club formed when despite his success writing indie scores, DeWitt longed for the thrill of fronting his own band. The decision to unite saw the band reap success within an instant. Not only were they climbing the US radio charts, but also fronting sell out gigs across the states – a declaration that the Wild Club bond was one not to be broken.
As with all ambitious creatives, Keegan had ideas beyond the success of his home turf and so Wild CLub touched down in London town to play alongside The 1975. A sell-out feat on word of mouth alone. Returning to the UK this coming September for three dates including one at XOYO, their debut album is also set to be released the same month, and will be accompanied by the release of a new single, the frenetic ‘Thunder Clatter’ on the same date, September 15th. Recorded and produced in Nashville by frontman/guitarist Keegan DeWitt and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Bullock, Youth is a record that acts as a thorough introduction to who Wild Cub are, and exactly where they are heading – all melody-heavy and bursting with colour and purpose. We catch up with Keegan himself to talk film scores vs band life, the stories behind the lyrics and Nashville hangouts…
Where did the name wild cub come from?
We all met in the midst of other pursuits in Nashville. Some of us were producing, others playing in different bands and some playing as singer-songwriters. A big part of what drew us together was the desire to be a band. There are already too many white guys with guitars in Nashville and we felt like it was exciting to really remove our faces and names from the record cover and release something where the music came before all that. We chose “Wild Cub” mainly because how meaningless and anonymous it was. The record is black on black with a single evocative image (what’s the history of those people, what is that moment?) and a band name that is totally non-intrusive.
It’s catchy! So how does writing film scores compare to performing in a band?
Film scoring and composing for Wild Cub are two parallel things that I always have to balance at the same time. I went to a conservatory for university, first for film writing/directing and then for acting. Alongside that, I was always recording music, almost like most people keep a diary. It was something I was doing to catalogue my own life, very organically and without much expectation. It organically came about that my friends in conservatory needed scores for their films, and one close friend was brave enough to ask. Since then, I’ve been spending the large amount of my life scoring films.
Now, as Wild Cub has come to life, it’s been a great opportunity to live two musical lives. With scoring, I have the opportunity to collaborate with incredible people, tell stories entirely unique from mine and most importantly… tackle really delicate emotions with the help of beautiful imagery and stories. Wild Cub is very different in that we can use the construct of a three and a half minute pop song, and place layer upon layer (drums, bass, repetition, lyrics, instrumentation) to try and tackle more dense emotions. The wonderful thing about emotions is how multi-faceted they are, and well constructed pop music can capture that. When The Ronettes sing “Be My Baby”, it’s a massively complex feeling… there is yearning, dark unknowns beneath it all, beautiful and lush orchestration… it’s a simple pop song representing a massively complex urge. That’s unique to pop music for sure.
What did you grow up listening to and how have they influenced your sound?
I grew up listening to almost entirely British music, so playing in front of British crowds has that added pressure for me. I would pay double for a Q magazine every week and even more for import CDs as a teenager. Blur, The Verve, Oasis, Supergrass, Manic Street Preachers, Pulp… these were the first bands that hit my ears and made me want to go write something for myself.
Let’s talk about the lyrics and video for ‘Colour’, what’s the story behind this track?
As you grow up, and maybe even once you’re “grown up”, you end up some times treating the people closest to you the most recklessly. As you start to mature, you are in this chaotic place romantically. You sometimes idolize these people you meet, someone you become centered on, and beneath that, there’s nothing. I kept finding that, in my younger relationships, they are super intense, but a lot of them have this funny component… that person is only partly themselves, and another big part is who you’ve created them to be in your imagination. You are building them up, or you are trying to shape them into something else.
Essentially, the track tries to scratch at how reckless you are in those earlier moments of intimacy with people. Understanding the uniqueness of people rather than your own romanticism you might paint them in and also… realizing that sometimes you’ve dressed someone up to be something fantastic and critical to you, when at the center… nothing is really there. For the video, I handed the director, Drew Bourdet (and his DP Dustin Lane) a bunch of photo clippings, some poems and some other random influences. They did an amazing job of linking into the subtleties of what compelled me about the song and tell a story that was entirely their own. It’s very subtle and beautiful. I’m very proud of their work on that video.
Where else do you look for inspiration?
Often, not to music really, atleast never in a very literal way. My inspiration is more driven by photography, poetry and film. All three of those things tell stories how I enjoy and empathize with narrative… very broad… very subtle… small moments with a lot of density. For me, most songs begin with a little flickr of an idea. The idea of a single word or a moment that I see in a photograph.
If we came to Nashville for the day where would you take us?
Woof, there are really two routes available to you on this one. Prince’s Hot Chicken (so hot you’ll get the flu), Rock Island (swimming and cliff jumping in the summer time) and 308 for a perfect nightcap (Tecate and a shot of silver Tequila).
Then there is the civilized route: Husk or Rolf & Daughters for lunch, Crema for amazing coffee in the morning, try and hope Caitlin Rose or Bryan Cates is playing The Five Spot and then some homemade cocktails and a campfire.
I think we need to come and test out both! Are there any emerging bands that you’re currently backing?
Right now, Nashville is more interesting than it’s been in a long while. Bryan Cates, in my opinion, is a total secret and maybe the most impressive songwriter I’ve ever seen. We are trying to convince him to get his record out sooner than later, but for now, a few of us swap demos and bootlegs back and forth.
Beyond that, there is Caitlin Rose, Roman Candle, Diarhea Planet, El El and a good bunch of others.
Okay, last one. What does the rest of 2014 hold for you?
A lot of touring, a lot of remixes, some amazing festivals and eventually… I’ll start demoing for whatever comes next.
Good luck, not that you’ll need it!
Wild Club’s debut album ‘Youth’ released September 15 in the UK via Mom + Pop / Virgin EMI.