Celebrating Local Talent with The Wildhood
Hosted by Meg Clemmensen
Graphic: Emily Lantzy
On May 26, a local band called The Wildhood played their EP release show at a club called Warehouse. Having opened for several stacked pop punk lineups within the St. Catharines and Niagara Falls area in the past year, this was one of the band’s first times headlining to a large audience. I had the chance to listen to the new music and then sit down with the band for a little while before the show started. I began talking with newest member and lead guitarist Andrew Davis, with vocalist Tom Dennis joining partway through. If you’ve ever wondered what goes into raising local talent under the radar, the best place to learn is from The Wildhood, who are currently working through exactly that.
Today is your huge EP release show, which you’ve been promoting a lot on social media lately. How stoked are you for that?
Andrew Davis: Very! We’ve had this EP for a while. Things just cooled down for a little bit. Everyone works full-time jobs and we record and mix all of our own stuff, so our work lives have to take priority sometimes, and that’s what it did last summer. The EP took a while to get out, but now we are streamlining it heads-forward to look at the end goal, and we’re really happy to finally have it out. We’re really proud to have the release done.
Yeah, the EP just dropped on Friday, so how’s that been going?
AD: Great! We got a little worried — the first two singles didn’t have as great of a reception as we were hoping for. “Losing Sleep,” which we put out at the end of last year, went crazy. We weren’t expecting anything that big. As soon as we dropped the EP, everyone was focused and they have loved it so far. That’s the other thing; I saw the stats the other day, and one out of every four people who have listened to it have fully saved our catalogue, which is insane.
So that’s your second EP. How was the process of creating it different than the first one?
Tom Dennis: A big difference is the fact that we spent more time in the room with everybody. Before, it was just a lot of everyone recording their own individual parts, and it was much more to ourselves the first time around. For this one, we kind of came together a bit more, opened up a schedule and just did the work together.
You’re playing a whole bunch of songs live for the first time tonight, correct?
AD: Yes! We have a few that we’ve incorporated into our sets for a bit now, but we have two songs that we just finished writing around a month ago, and we’re just hitting the studio to record them and we’re hoping to have them out around the end of summer or fall. So there are a few new ones in there!
And have you played many headline shows before, or is this one of your first ones?
AD: This is my personal first with the band, but they’ve played maybe two shows to like five people in a crappy dive bar kind of setting, but this is the first time I’ve ever personally headlined a show. I think they’ve maybe only ever played one, two at max!
So will the set be much longer than everyone is used to tonight?
AD: The set’s going to be a little bit longer! This is actually the first time that we’re going to be playing “Losing Sleep” live, so that’s all just Tom standing up there with his acoustic guitar and we’re really excited. That has a hundred times more streams than the rest of our songs, which is crazy to us! There’s a lot of people that absolutely love the song; it actually came out before I joined the band and it’s how I found them and thought, “Shit, these guys are legit!” So yeah, we’re really excited for that.
You’ve also opened for a whole bunch of local shows in your time of being a band on the radar. How do you come about those opportunities, and how do they help the band gain exposure?
AD: We just want to play great shows. We know that the way we’re going to do anything with the band is that we’re going to play in front of more people and get our name out there. The more people that know about us, the more people that talk about us, the more people that listen to us, the bigger and better opportunities we’re going to get. We find some great bands — like Young Culture! That was our first show of the year and my first show with the band. We opened up for them in Toronto. We just saw that Young Culture was playing in the area and asked, “Hey, can we play this?”
Oh yeah, Young Culture are sick.
AD: They’re the nicest dudes we’ve ever met. We love them!
They are. What’s the importance of playing locally to you?
TD: It’s huge because growing up, you spend a lot of time going to the bigger venues like the Phoenix Theatre or even big stadiums. You get a big sense of community, but just going to those shows, you don’t really see the small communities around where you live. Playing local shows, you find those people and you make those connections. It’s a lot more humanizing to the community.
And along the topic of local communities, you’re partnered with Niagara Health for tonight’s show. How did that come along?
AD: I’ve always been a big advocate for mental health. We tried to have some show safety and sexual assault prevention groups come in too, but unfortunately, they weren’t available. I knew that was something I wanted to have — I want our scene to be inclusive, and most importantly, I want it to be safe for the people within it. We looked around for some mental health non-profits, and a lot just don’t have the resources to be able to come out and do something like this — I actually had some connections within Niagara Health, so that really worked out! I didn’t know that originally, but then I found out and we were like, “Okay, this is what we want!” We wanna have these people out and have our funds going to a really good cause. All the money is going to a health care in the area, which is super important to us. Especially for this show, all the money is going towards mental health initiatives, which is big for us.
Back to the EP for a little bit — I noticed when I was giving it a listen that it’s exactly 17 minutes long, on the dot. I just need to know if that was planned!
TD: Honestly, not as far as I know! Our guitarist, who actually did all of the engineering on it, can be a little meticulous. That might be a little background thing he threw in there.
AD: He never told us!
TD: Other than that, it definitely wasn’t planned.
So you released three out of five songs in advance to the actual EP release. How did you choose which ones you wanted people to hear early?
TD: It was kind of just a feeling. When we’re choosing the singles, we just went with the ones that we thought would make the biggest impact and felt right to us. I think it worked out! Then we dropped the EP and “Bad Parking” got picked up, and it’s doing a bit better than some of the singles! It's just a toss-up, you never really know what’s gonna happen.
Yeah, for sure. Which one has been getting the most attention in total?
AD: “Bad Parking” since the EP drop. It’s starting to take the top daily streams — we’re pretty much at three times what the singles were at daily, which is crazy!
TD: Right now, it’s either “Comeback” for a full-band one, or “Losing Sleep.”
Yeah, you were talking about how much people are loving that one!
TD: Oh yeah, it’s done well.
AD: It’s done us really well.
What I want to close off with is which song are you most stoked to play live tonight and why?
TD: Depends on who you ask! If you ask me, I’m gonna say “Losing Sleep” because that’s my bread and butter.
Yeah, let’s do everybody!
AD: I’m on “For The Record.” I love playing that one. Or “Wide Awake,” we have a sick breakdown in there and we go hard!
TD: So an acoustic song or two unreleased songs. That’s how it goes.
Supporting local music is critical for growth and diversity of the scene, and The Wildhood and their fans have that figured out. This band has worked their way up to this point with truly good intentions to change the scene for the better. The new EP, No Control, is available to stream wherever you listen to music.