This Wild Life is without question one of the most unique bands out on this years Vans Warped Tour. Fresh off the release of their debut album Clouded, they're quickly proving to become one of the tour's breakout acts. I sat down with Kevin Jordan and Anthony Del Grosso to discuss the tour, the record, and where the band is headed in the future.
Check out the band's music video for "History" here
You guys have been on the road continuously – the Emery tour, the A Lot Like Birds tour, even an appearance on The Bachelorette. Have you guys even had a chance to be home longer than a couple weeks?
Kevin: We were home a couple weeks between Australia and Warped, but that was a really hectic time for us because we were preparing for this tour.
Anthony: And our CD Release too.
How hard was it being gone on the road for that long? I know you guys give up a lot to be out here.
Kevin: Well, this is what we want to be doing. We’re happier on the road than when we’re at home.
Anthony: I think the only hard part is when we don’t have internet, because our social media is always us – we don’t want anyone else touching it. So we crave internet.
Kevin: Touring internationally is tough, because you don’t have access to that stuff.
Anthony: It hurts like crazy.
How has this tour been different compared to the last few tours you’ve done?
Kevin: It’s a little more chaotic, because you don’t know what the setup of the venue will be like every day; you don’t know when your set-time will be; you don’t know where your merch tent is set up. So every morning you have to wake up and find your bearings – you walk off the bus and you don’t even know which direction to walk in. This tour is definitely more hands on than any other tour we’ve been a part of.
What did you guys think when you were given the opportunity to play Warped?
Kevin: We were blown away. We had submitted for the Acoustic Basement stage a couple years ago and we didn’t even get regional dates on it. So to get offered the whole tour on a good stage was super surprising and overwhelming.
Well this is a tour you guys fit in with anyways – you guys like a lot of the heavier on the Monster stage. Who else do you guys like watching on this tour?
Kevin: We’ve watched The Ghost Inside a bunch…
Anthony: The Story So Far, The Ghost Inside, Four Year Strong, Bayside - I love all those bands.
Kevin: One that I’ve seen a couple times but I’ve been really excited to see every day is Anberlin. They’re the best sounding band on this tour, hands down.
Anthony: Yeah, they’re like a CD, it’s crazy.
And you guys are on the Warheads stage, which is one of the amphitheater stages. You guys submitted for the Acoustic Basement, and they’re like “Well, here’s this instead” And that’s literally 10 times better, you know?
Kevin: When we got the offer for the stage, I looked at last years roster for that stage, and I was seeing bands like Tonight Alive, Hands Like Houses, and I was like “We’re a lot smaller than these bands, we’re a lot newer.” At the time that we got the offer we didn’t even have a full length out, we weren’t even signed yet. When we got signed and we talked to Kevin Lyman about the stage, I told him I was nervous about the size of it, and basically he told me “We have a way of gauging a band’s success six months from now, you will have kids at the stage every day, don’t worry about it.”
Yeah, and kids are definitely out there.
Kevin: Yeah, and then we saw the line-up of the stage we were on, and we saw that Anberlin, The Maine, and Saves The Day were on our stage, and then we got nervous again.
It’s funny because even in Mountain View, there were SO MANY people there – it’s an amphitheater stage. Is that overwhelming, looking out and seeing hundreds and hundreds of people singing along to your songs?
Anthony: Nah, it’s not overwhelming.
Kevin: It’s not really nerves anymore, we’ve played a lot of shows in the last year.
Anthony: I walk out and see all those people, and even if all those people aren’t watching us and relaxing in the amphitheater – to me, we need to play as well as we can to win these people over that don’t know who we are. So I actually get kind of excited…
Kevin: Yeah, me too.
Anthony: There’s so many people who don’t know your band. And you can see them walking by and listening, and they’ll take a seat in the amphitheater, and that’s fine for us.
Have you gotten a lot of new fans that way, where people just sit down and they’re like “Oh, who is this band?”
Anthony: It happened at the amphitheater a lot – we sold a lot of CD’s after, and people were coming up and had no idea who we were. They were just trying to find a place to relax for a little bit and they heard our music.
What has been your favorite song to play on this tour and why?
Anthony: For me personally, I like our opening song “Concrete”. It’s the coolest stuff I do on guitar, and the craziest effects I have, so it’s kind of entertaining for me to play.
Kevin: Yeah, that’s probably the one I’m most excited to play too. We’re stoked to be playing new songs, we slanted the set more towards new songs than old ones, cause we looked at it where people have just found out about us in the last six months or so as we’ve been releasing new music. So we really wanted to push the new record because we’re super proud of it.
If you had time to add one more song to the set, would you add a cover?
Anthony: No, we won’t add any covers to the set.
Kevin: We really haven’t played any covers too much live – we did on a few tours, we did our Bring Me The Horizon cover
Anthony: We just did it overseas really.
Kevin: Yeah, we did it in the U.K., and we did it in Australia. Because we have a new record out, that we need to be pushing those songs out and getting people aware of that.
Anthony: I think if we had the CD out [back then], we wouldn’t have even played the cover. We played it only because we had 6 songs out back then, so we couldn’t even do a 30 minute set with our whole catalogue of songs.
And Clouded has been getting such good reviews across the board, everyone really seems to love it. How’s that feel to get that sort of reaction from everyone?
Kevin: When we went into writing the record, we didn’t have a lot of forethought on it. I’ve always said when I’m writing a song lyrically, writing melodies and stuff, the last thing I’m thinking of is the end user, who’s going to hear this when it’s done. All I want to do is write a song that I love, that means something to me and is honest, and that whole thought process of “Oh shit, I hope people really like this record” That never happens to me until it’s done being recorded. Because all I’m worried about is me being happy with it, but at the end of it, that’s when you start getting nervous – like, we love this record so much, but are we so involved in it that we can’t take a step back to really…
Anthony: Listen to it.
Kevin: Yeah, to really listen to it and perceive it from a neutral ground. So that’s when we started getting nervous about it, because we did the record independently, and then we got picked up by Epitaph, and they hadn’t even heard the record. So we signed to them before they even heard the record, and we were nervous just to turn it in and get their thoughts on it.
Why Epitaph though? What did they bring to the table that you guys were like “Yes!”
Kevin: Super artist friendly. Like I said, they offered us a deal before they even heard the record. They said “We like what you guys are doing, your vision is your vision, and we’re not going to distort it.” And other labels we talked to didn’t really get us.
Anthony: Epitaph loved the whole DIY thing, we told them that we wanted to continue to do that. We wanted to have a huge input – music videos, anything that we do, it has to go through us and they were really easy to get along with.
Kevin: We want to give away free music still, and they totally got it. We took another meeting with another label, and they said “So what are you guys trying to do? Do you guys want to be Mumford & Sons?” They just did not get it, they questioned our look and stuff, and we’re just the last dudes to change just because someone wants us to.
Which song was the hardest to write on the album?
Kevin: We’re a band that’s very prepared before we go into the studio, we completely demo out everything before we go. So I would say there isn’t one that was hardest to do in the studio, but there were songs that changed the most in the studio - we’ll write a song in a room but then we’ll demo it out and it’ll change a little, and then we’ll record it and it’ll change even more.
Anthony: Probably “Don’t Say” was the hardest, because we changed it completely in the studio.
Kevin: That one transformed the most in the studio.
Anthony: Out of 10 songs, 8 of them were pretty much the exact same as the demo that me and Kevin made in his bedroom, we just added stuff. But “Don’t Say” was a song that we changed a lot, with Aaron’s help we kind of messed with that.
What was working with Aaron [Marsh] like? He’s such a big name.
Kevin: We specifically went to him because he has a way of creating these moods and dynamics on a record that we really were seeking for our sound. We knew that we wanted to base everything with acoustic guitar and vocal, but we wanted to color everything with different instrument palettes, so we knew that he would be the guy that could kill it for us. He has the experience and knowledge of strings, keys, and different kinds of guitars…
Anthony: Instruments we had never heard of.
Did he push you in particular direction? Did he say “Let’s develop this a little bit more” or “I need you to change this”?
Kevin: Most of his input was on the arrangements. We had ideas - we said “Hey, we want strings on these three songs” And then he arranged the strings for us basically.
Anthony: He’d even bring ideas, like “Hey, let’s try this” and we’d maybe try a sound of something that I’d don’t even know about and then we can just listen back and see if we can like it. He was very good on adding.
Kevin: Yeah, and those are the subtle things on the record to me that are really special.
Anthony: They make each a little different than the other.
Kevin: They give each song a voice, rather than every song just being a droney acoustic song, they all kind of have their own voice.
What is something about the record that people wouldn’t know unless you told them?
Kevin: I saw a tweet just an hour ago where somebody posted a photo of a CD they bought at Warped the other day in front of their stereo, and they said that the last song on the record (“405”) is like a full band song, and they’re like “Holy crap, I did not expect this at all, what a cool song!” So I would say that people wouldn’t expect the last song on the record sounds nothing like the front 9 songs.
Anthony: It’s just a full band song
What are you guys up to in the fall?
Kevin: We’re going to do a really large U.S. Tour in the winter that isn’t going to allow us to do any fall touring because of Warped Tour’s radius clause. So we’ll be home and we’ve discussed doing some different things. We’re definitely going to put out more video content in that time, we’ll be writing more because we want to get ahead of the next record – our record’s been out for a month now, but we’re already writing.
Is there something that you’re itching to do on the next record that you didn’t get to do on Clouded?
Kevin: I don’t think we’re the type of band to have a lot of foresight with that kind of stuff. We kind of take it a song at a time – songs almost write themselves, you can tell what they need as you’re writing them.
Anthony: I just want to write more songs…
Kevin: We went into the last record with 11 demos and put 10 on the record.
Anthony: I want to go in there with a lot more really and dive in.
Kevin: We’ve said we want to do 20-30 and cut it down from there to 12 songs or whatever.
Is there someone in particular that you’d like to work with on this next record?
Kevin: Aaron nailed the last one for us, so we would definitely talk about working with him again. But I think it just depends on the songs we write, and what we think they need, so I think that’s totally up in the air. We could throw a bunch of names, but if they’re not available or not into the project, then we keep moving on.
For someone unfamiliar with your band or someone that’s thinking about checking you out at Warped, what is the most important thing people know about you guys?
Kevin: I dunno, I guess we’ve just always prided ourselves on writing sincere songs. Our lyrics aren’t super poetic, I kinda just say how I feel in a lot of them, so the music is pretty exposed. Because of it being acoustic, the lyrics really speak, you know? There’s really not much to hide behind. So I’d say people should expect not a big energetic mosh fest, but a stripped down beautiful set that has some really honest lyrics.
Love these two. Their set at Warpedwas very chill, serene, and it was simply an awesome diversion from the moshing. Clouded is such a fantastic album and I'm really excited to see what these guys do next.