“If I Have To Die” by the Wilderness sonically brings us a fusion of Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers while delivering a pertinent message about the state of the world we live in. Their folk/alternative/indie sound is powerful, yet they actually speak of the powerless that they feel amidst the world falling apart around them with fires, a pandemic, and civil wars between ourselves. The silver lining of the lyrics is about holding on to a loved one, and how fiercely that love grows in a state of crisis. The music is easy to listen to, as the melody and music build to organically tell a story. The guitars and ferocious drums pull us in strong from the beginning, and the harmonies, melodic lines underlying instruments build into the hefty climax of the chorus. As natural as this song feels to add to any playlist going about your day, this song has layers to peel back within the deep and profound lyrics. Deemed as “the next big band you haven’t heard yet”, the sextet released “If I Have To Die” as a single before their big album debut “Until Tomorrow”, which was released August 21st. The band members of The Wilderness are from all parts of the world, including a Brit, a Frenchman, two Americans, and two Canadians. The band members seems very down-to-earth and relatable. Simply put, this band has real substance and is definitely one to follow, not only to watch their success grow, but to find meaning in this unsteady planet we call home.
I had the pleasure of speaking with The Wilderness, and here is what they had to say:
Q&A with The Wilderness
Your style is powerful and reminiscent of Mumford & Sons, and I personally love listening to that kind of music. What type of music do you listen to that has influenced your own writing?
Our palette is diverse; you will get completely different answers depending on who you ask, and this is really apparent our new album, “Until Tomorrow”. Jonas is heavily influenced by the folk-rock stylings of artists like Josh Ritter and the descriptive songwriting of Bruce Springsteen; his writing paints a picture and really invites the listener to develop a relationship with the scenery and the characters (see “Pick You Up”, “Twenty-Five”, or “You Look so Good When You Cry”). Nick comes from a background as a heavy metal drummer, is classically educated, and is a self-taught jazz musician, so his writing is full of quirks and odd musical choices (see “You, the Ocean”). Karl also comes from a heavy metal background and seems to have an affinity for pop-punk style songwriting (see “Graveyard”). Collectively, our wide array of tastes contributes to a wide array of genres in our writing.
“The Wilderness” is very well done, with a mighty sound. What was your creative and recording process for this track?
“If I Have to Die” was written at a secluded cabin in Quebec and subsequently recorded part-by-part at Terry Benn’s studio in Bath, Ontario. While at the cabin, our nightly ritual was to perform our songs for one another in whatever state they existed; this one began in true Jonas fashion with just a handful of lyrics and some chords on the acoustic guitar, but was quickly layered up by the band to create a thick and powerful soundscape full of driving guitars and saxophone harmonies.
Did any real-life events happen that inspired “The Wilderness”?
1. At the time, the world was in dire straits; the US was on the verge of starting a third world war, the Coronavirus was just starting to appear across the world from us, fires were ravaging the continent of Australia, and climate change was like a perpetual anxiety in the back of all our minds. This song came as a response to the feeling of powerlessness that surrounded that, and centers itself around the solace one can find in the comfort of a loved one. 2. This song pays homage to the gritty world of touring musicianship, and how not everyone you meet is pleasant, especially in your hometown. In the lyrics, Karl makes reference to the city of Yankton, South Dakota; while there isn’t necessarily anything special to the band about the place itself, his experience there is representative of the dirty, perhaps debaucherous nights one may find oneself spending while out on tour.
It seems that you have played a lot of live shows over the USA and Canada. How has your music life been affected by the times we live in?
Performing live is our bread and butter, and obviously that has meant drastic change for us given the pandemic. Just recently, we played our first live shows in months not far from Kingston, ON. We were fortunate enough to play four shows in twenty-four hours; two outdoors in a farm field to celebrate the release of our album (and to facilitate social distancing), and two more at a drive-in theatre. Apart from that though, we’ve chosen to focus heavily on much of the back-end work that being in a band involves; this is to say we’ve been writing music, working on videos, livestreaming, creating content, and planning for what shows will look like in the future!
What projects are coming up next for you?
So many! Of course, we’re really looking forward to letting people know about the album we’ve just released, and we have some live-off-the-floor videos and some behind the scenes content that we’ll soon be releasing in support of that. We’re planning a few more shows here in Canada too, and we have plans to eventually tour the UK and Europe. As ambitious as it sounds, we’re also really looking forward to writing our next record! All of us have some new ideas kicking around, and there are plenty of songs that were still in their blossoming stages when we were recording “Until Tomorrow”.
Any parting words you’d like to say to your fans out there?
We’ve put so much of ourselves into the music you’re hearing, and we hope that music means something to you, truly. Stay strong, and we’ll get through this together! See you soon!