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Q&A: Wires in the Walls

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Wires in the Walls is getting tons of attention in the L.A. buzzosphere and we are stoked that they are coming to our neck of the woods on Friday, for a free in-store concert at 4pm. Here, drummer/horn man Bryan King gives us an introduction to the band, their sound, their thoughts on vinyl and what it’s like living in a town with an embarrassment of musical riches.

Will you give us a little history of Wires in the Walls? How long have you been playing together? How did the band come about?
The group started in 2009 when Warren Sroka met Nick Tracz through mutual acquaintances at a weekly poker game. At the time, Warren was performing his acoustic folk songs as a solo act, but was looking to form a band to do full arrangements. Nick came aboard on bass and harmonies and the two went through a few drummers before settling on Bryan King, who had just moved to LA from Virginia. The group played as a foursome with Bryan’s childhood friend Thomas Orgren on lead guitar for a while, but when Orgren moved back to Virginia in early 2010, they turned to Craigslist to find guitarist Dave Irelan. Bryan was playing in another band with multi-instrumentalist Dave Sicher and thought he’d be a great fit as a jack-of-all-trades fifth member, and so by March of 2010 the current lineup was complete.

There are a lot of labels that get placed on your music, but you guys don’t seem to fit easily into any category. How do you describe your music?
We fall generally under the indie rock umbrella, but incorporate elements of Americana, folk, and post-rock. Big guitars and drums with emotive, engaging vocals and lyrics that tell a story. Catchy melodies with intricate arrangements and diverse instrumentation. We try to use textures and unique sounds as much as possible to create layers within the songs. Some of our biggest influences include The National, Wilco, Band of Horses, Frightened Rabbit, Okkervil River, The Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Lucero, and Broken Social Scene.

Your songs are really well-crafted and catchy. Can you talk us through the process that the band goes through with new material? How do Wires in the Walls songs take shape?
Aw shucks, thank you very much! We really don’t have one set way we go about songwriting. Sometimes Warren will bring in a song that’s pretty far along and sometimes we just jam and see what ideas come forward. We like to mix it up as well to get a variety of different feels – for instance starting writing a song with a drum beat instead of a chord progression to give it a more percussive feel, or on keys or banjo instead of guitar. We record ourselves in practice as much as possible so we have hours and hours of song ideas we can sift through, since you never know when one cool little lick or drumbeat can spark a really great song.

You’re playing a handful of in-store shows on your current tour. What are your thoughts on record stores and vinyl? We’re pretty stoked that your upcoming release, New Symmetry, is going to be available on vinyl.
We’re big vinyl fanatics and looooove independent record stores. On our last tour, there was this funky little record shop right next to one of the venues we were playing at, and we spent hours in there scouring their shelves for rare finds. The artwork is bigger and cooler on vinyl, and there’s something about having to get up and flip a record and drop the needle that’s oddly satisfying. Knowing we were going to release this album on vinyl made us think more about how the two sides would break up and flow, and that helped us to really break the record into two distinct acts.

Tell us a bit about the new album. It sounds like you guys are really pleased with how it turned out. How did the recording session go? How is the album different from what you’ve done up until now?
New Symmetry is our first album, so it’s pretty special to us. We really worked hard to make it more than just a collection of songs – we wanted the listening experience to be a journey. It was also a huge learning experience, as far as the process. It took us quite a long time because we were figuring things out as we went as far as how to record such a large volume of songs, how and when to experiment in the studio, how to best utilize the pre-production process, etc. etc. Since our past records were quick and short EPs, we’d never tackled a project of this scope before. We became much more fearless and challenged ourselves much more. In the past we might have settled for a more standard arrangement of a song, but this time around we really pushed each song and tried lots of different things to try to find something unique in each one. Our song “Tremolo” off our new album has theramin, euphonium, orchestra bells, banjo, and trumpet… “YSA” starts with accordion… We also use a lot more keyboards now to get different sounds – more textures and lush arrangements. We love trying new things so we’re constantly pushing ourselves to come up with new ideas and arrangements. Plus, the melodies are stronger and the sounds are much more interesting. As our producer said when he heard the songs for the first time in pre-production, “It’s like old Wires in the Walls, but better.”

How’s the roots/Americana/rock scene in L.A.? How have you been received?
LA is such a big city with a huge music scene, there’s pretty much a niche for every type of music imaginable. You can head to the Sunset Strip and see ’80s hair metal bands and alternative rock acts, or you can head to Silverlake to see up-and-coming indie rock acts. Surprisingly, there’s actually a thriving roots/Americana scene with some really great bands. Our reception has been great, we’ve met so many super-cool people playing shows around town. It’s tough sometimes being a band with such an eclectic sound since we don’t fit neatly into one specific genre of music, but it’s worked out well for us so far.

What other bands are you digging right now?
We just saw Bon Iver live in concert this week and it was amazing! The National are big favorites, and we’re looking forward to Wilco’s new album. We also recently saw Frightened Rabbit live, they put on a great show. One big perk to living in LA is there’s so many great bands that come through town, it’s an embarrassment of riches.

What’s next for Wires in the Walls?
We’re looking forward to our fall tour and then we’ve got our big record release show in LA right after that, which we’re super stoked about because we’ll be performing with a full horn line for the first time. Then we’ll just be promoting the new album, getting ready for South by Southwest, and working on new material for our next release!

What else should we know about you? Anything you’d like to add?
We’re a super hard working group of guys with a huge passion for music that are constantly looking to become better musicians, write better songs, and put on better live shows. We’ve come a huge ways in the past year, going from naïve industry newbies with a handful of songs to a buzzing band in the super-competitive LA scene about to release an album that we think will really put us on the map. We think that our music really has the potential to resonate with a large and diverse audience beyond the typical indie-hipster set, while still being musically interesting and emotionally resonant. We really hope you’ll check it out and enjoy it!

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