Wild Nothing Discuss Nocturne

Building Something Out of Nothing

Aug 21, 2012 Web Exclusive Photography by David Studarus Bookmark and Share


Wild Nothing were serendipitously plucked from the ether back in 2010, when Captured Tracks head Mike Sniper listened to their demos, on Myspace no less, and contacted Jack Tatum, who essentially is the studio end of band, to make a record. The resulting effort, Gemini, was a resounding success both commercially and critically. But not content to retread past glories, Tatum has raised the stakes for 2012's superb second effort Nocturne, embracing a more pop ethos alongside a heightened production acumen. Yet Tatum hasn't eschewed any of the glorious harmonic or melodic instincts that endeared him to the indie world. It's a rare instance of an act sidestepping a sophomore slump by maintaining what was likeable about them in the first place while still growing by leaps and bounds artisticallyno easy feat. Under the Radar caught up with Tatum while he was on the road with Beach House to discuss the gestation of Nocturne.

There's an article on Wild Nothing in the print version of our forthcoming Summer Issue of Under the Radar. These are extra portions of our interview, quotes that didn't make it into our main print issue article on Tatum. Both the print and digital/iPad versions of the issue include more frames from our photo shoot with Tatum. Be sure to check out both the print and digital versions of our forthcoming Summer Issue for much more from our interview and shoot with Wild Nothing.

John Everhart (Under the Radar): The last time we talked was when you were opening for Neon Indian at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, back in June of 2010 I think.

Jack Tatum: That was one of the first interviews I'd ever done. It was ages ago. [Laughs]

Your live show's definitely gotten better, and, contrasting the records, this one [Nocturne] sounds more visceral to my ears.

One of the big things with the new album was that we did a lot of drums, which made it sound more like a live band kind of thing. I played everything on the first record by myself. I still played everything on this one except the drums. But it was definitely more of a cohesive band feel and not all me.

The model's different for a lot of bands these days. They make the record first and then road test it, as opposed to how bands used to do it, fleshing out the songs live first.

Yeah, it's the total opposite. For us, it's like I do the recording, and then we have the album with material and we need to figure out how to play the songs live as a band.

It seems to be the case with a lot of Captured Tracks acts, both with newer bands and stuff Mike Sniper's reissued, something like The Cleaners From Venus. Home recording type stuff.

Yeah, I was so happy when I found out they were doing that reissue of The Cleaners From Venus. I'd loved them for awhile now, and I guess they'd been talking about it for awhile, and me and a lot of the bands on the label were super excited when it happened. It's exciting the stuff they've been able to get a hold of reissue wise. Like The Wake. It's fun just knowing Mike and the other bands on the label were all just huge record nerds, and just fans of music. It's really exciting now for the label to be able to be putting out new bands and reissuing records by bands we kind of idolized in some small way.

I see a lot of camaraderie right now in Captured Tracks in Brooklyn. It seems like the bands are really supportive of each other.

It's really fun to be a part of a label like that. I think a lot of it has to do with a lot of the bands being New York-based, but it's great. I've made a lot of good friends through the label since I moved to Brooklyn.

There are so many great record stores in the area, which I'm guessing you appreciate.

Oh man, I've been loving the new Record Grouch in Greenpoint. Every time I go in there I really want something, and it's like, do I want to pay $25 for that 7"? But it's the one thing I don't feel terrible about spending money on because it's what I do. I found a really rare Orange Juice 7" at Record Grouch that I was really excited to get.

Well, listening to your records, it's obvious that you love music.

It's part of my duty as a musician to be a fan of music. I've always been really open about stuff I like. Especially with the first record, it was a whole record store genre exercise in a way, playing around. But I have my own way of doing things, and that creeps in and makes it seem more contemporary.

What inspired you to work with Nicolas Vernhes at Rare Book Room?

Well, I kept putting it off. Like, I was gonna maybe do it with this person or another person, and Nicolas was someone I'd met awhile ago, and right after I moved to New York in January we talked and decided to do the record together. He'd worked on some Deerhunter records, and that's a band I really admire.

Do you feel like your move to Brooklyn had any sort of influence on you?

I don't feel like it had much of an effect on the album at all. I was living in Savannah, Ga., for a year, and I wrote the bulk of the album there. Life wise it affected me, but I don't really consider myself a New Yorker. I don't think Wild Nothing will ever be a New York band or be New York music. I mean, Captured Tracks is there, and I'm friends with Dustin from Beach Fossils and some of the other bands, but I don't feel like the area influenced what I just made.

Did you feel like there was anything thematic on your record? They're sort of impressionistic songs to me.

I don't think it's ever been important to say anything about the music I make. I've never really had a message. It's more sonically and mood based. I have feelings I want to portray. Moods and environments. For me, making a record is like making a place they can inhabit. I want them to listen to it and get a sense of where my head was, or maybe what feeling I want to get across. Thematically for me it's always vague. I don't start with any idea behind it. It's partly made-up stuff, partly drawn from memories over the past year or two. But I don't feel the need to preach to anybody, and I don't have anything particularly important to say. No big social commentary or anything, that's for sure.

I love records like that, where it's like a daydream or something. It doesn't have to make literal sense.

It's very subjective. It can take on a form of whatever you need it to be. Some people will be like, "I love that song, it's so upbeat," and others will be like, "Oh, I love that song, it's so sad."

Are your parents fans of your music? I always like asking that question.

[Laughs] Yeah, they dig it. My parents are cool. They're teachers and they've always been supportive. My dad's a musician too. He plays guitar. I could put out a record of farts and my parents would still like it. [Laughs] It's cool. They always come see us when we play Virginia. I get a kick out of it too.

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