WYLDLIFE are a rock 'n' roll band. On the surface that sounds incredibly broad, but once you listen to them, preferably at a thundering volume, it's the only apt descriptor. In a world where extreme genrefication places bands into the tiniest little boxes, WYLDLIFE defies classification.
During their live shows, frontman Dave Feldman can transform from having a preening '70s Mick Jagger vibe to the beer-soaked, primal intensity of Iggy Pop in an instant. As Feldman puts it, "This is rock 'n' roll music for people who like rock 'n' roll."
We've got the premiere of the video for "Kiss and Tell," the first video off their brand new album, "Year of the Snake." Crank your speakers, give it a watch and then read our interview with Feldman.
For those unfamiliar with WYLDLIFE, can you give us the 30 second, elevator pitch history of the band?
Sam Allen (guitar) and I have been writing together since we were 12 years old, so the vast majority of our lives. Spencer is an OG bass player and Stevie has been in the band for two records now, plus a handful of singles. We make rock 'n' roll music.
Let’s talk about that video we just watched. How did you come up with the concept?
The concept was made by the director, and our friend, Randy Slavin. It's been about 10 years since we've worked with him, so I guess he let all these weird fucked up ideas marinate in his head.
Are your dreams really that fucked up?
My dreams can definitely be fucked up. I've woken up crying because some of my friends died in my dreams. But mostly they're just super weird. I swear on my life, last night I had a dream where we were rushing to get to the stage to play a show, and they told me I had to do comedy in between the songs. It was so fucking strange.
What was the most fun aspect of making the video?
Without a doubt, dressing up like various soldiers and playing war games was the most fun. The paranoia and anxiety was actually very real. We shot this without any permits and were constantly looking over our shoulders for cops/cyclists/joggers who would be like, 'What the fuck?' I mean, we had toy guns but they look pretty realistic.
How did you decide that “Kiss and Tell” would be the first single from the album?
Even before the album came out, we had been closing our sets with 'Kiss and Tell,' and it really made a good impact as far as the audience being like, 'Woah, fuck.' It's a good swan song. So when Steve Van Zandt suggested that would be our first single for the actual album, save for the stand alone physical single of "Neon Nightmare," we were all for it.
Tell us a little about what we can expect from “Year of the Snake?”
This is rock 'n' roll music for people who like rock 'n' roll. It runs the gamut from stuff that sounds like punk, garage and '90s Brit Pop... there's even an arena-explosion sounding tune at the end. I dunno. It's weird to talk about your own stuff, but I'll say this: I never think a band's newest project has to be their "overall best." It's a subjective term in the first place, but it's bound to set yourself up for disappointment, both as a fan and a band, if that's what you're trying to achieve. You should just try and write good songs and work hard on the production, on the engineering. Take your time if you have to, God knows we do. I would tell you to your face at the merch table that straight up, with the last record, it was not our best by that point. And this time, I actually think we have something that, four albums in, is our best overall.
What were some of your major influences when writing and recording this album?
The Hives, Teenage Fanclub, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Replacements, OASIS, Thin Lizzy, The NY Dolls, The Heartbreakers (both Thunders and Petty)... all that cool shit.
How is this record different from the previous WYLDLIFE albums?
It just rules a little bit more. It really is kinda all over the place. But that's fine, it's far from boring.
We have to address the elephant currently in the room, the room that we haven’t been allowed to leave for the last month... what has it been like to release an album during this pandemic? How weird is it to not be able to play shows or go on tour?
It is so fucking weird. We actually had a tour set up that we were just about to announce and as we saw band after band pulling their tour, we decided best to not even announce it. So it was good that we could save face on that. But once our hometown release shows got cancelled in Brooklyn, we discussed pushing the actual release a few months down the road and ultimately it was a no.
I was so fucking scared that this album was going to get lost in the shuffle of anger and boredom and sadness and frustration that everyone is going through. But the response has been incredibly positive since the release, it's extremely touching. One of my friends said, 'This is actually a good thing because not only are you giving people something to do, your fans are going to remember exactly where they were when this album came out and how it made them feel something for a bit.' Now having said that, we really do want this shit to be over so we can play shows for everyone.
When all of this clears up and we try to go back to normal, what’s the first thing you want to do as a band? Play a show? Get together to record? Hug?
Definitely hug, and then crack some cold ones (with the boys). Soon as we get word that it's OK to do so, we want to play a show, a delayed record release show. Time release. Then just map out a tour and hit the road. Head to Europe. Whatever. It's like that Ray Charles number, 'Side By Side.' 'Through all kinds of weather/What if the sky should fall?/Just as long as we're together/It really doesn't matter at all.'
We gotta ask a couple of tattoo questions, what was your first tattoo, when did you get it and does it still exist?
Hahaha ohhhh fuck... I got my first tattoo when I was 19 or 20. It said 'Brothers Be Brothers' across my wrist, a family mantra from my mom to me and my two older brothers. And, like an asshole, I've been getting my entire sleeves lasered and covered up for the past few years. Sorry Mom. Sorry Mike. Sorry Kurt. Most people have guilt and shame about getting tattoos, not about having them removed. That one I'll probably have to get somewhere else on me just to be able to sleep at night.
Do all the members of the band have any matching tattoos or weird tattoo stories together?
Oddly enough, no! No matching tattoos. Maybe some day we'll get something really stupid somewhere together... maybe a Yin Yang with 'Y.O.T.S.' around it... what do you think guys?
Stevie Dios (drums) has no fucking tattoos, which these days I almost think is cooler and more original. But Sam and Spencer have definitely been tattooed while on tour. When that happens I usually just hang in the shop and try and help out whoever's doing it. I used to be a shop guy for a while.
You’re pretty covered, who are some of the artists in your collection? Do you have a go-to shop?
I am an extremely loyal client to the boys at Smith Street Tattoo Parlour in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Virtually everything I have is from those guys. It eventually got to the point where I wanted my sleeves redone so badly by them that I started lasering my entire sleeves to have them cover them up. Shout out to Steve Boltz, Bert Krak, Eli Quinters, Kane Gordon, Jeremy Ross Armstrong and Frank William. I've also been lucky enough to be blessed by Dan Santoro, Chris Howell, Jason Philips, Ryan Cooper Thompson and a bunch more I'm drawing blanks on. Sorry for being fried.
Speaking of art, the album artwork for “Year of the Snake” is pretty fucking rad. Who’s responsible for it? That viper would make a good tattoo…
Yooo! That's our inside man! Spencer Alexander (bass) does all our album art. He's a real sick bastard in the best way possible. Hey, anybody reading this, first one who gets a 'Year of the Snake' tattoo will get something special from the band. Use the back cover snake, that one's sicker and bigger.
You can pick up "Year of the Snake" and other rad WYLDLIFE swag at their Bandcamp. The new album is also available at all the usual spots: Spotify, Amazon Music, iTunes, etc.