Wild Powwers, a dynamic and grungy rock/ post-hardcore trio from Seattle, are releasing their compelling new full-length album, What You Wanted, on April 23 via Nadine Records.
Get a first listen below to the group’s engaging new single, “Bone Throw”! Scroll down further for a Q & A with the band.
The song is a bit on the mellower side, but it’s still very forceful. The rhythmic dynamism in the sound makes the song feel passionate, and it’s even a bit anthemic — it’s not difficult to imagine the group performing the track in some half-lit side-street club while the crowd sings along. The energy in the sound feels strikingly natural, with smooth progressions that deliver a feeling of a sort of emotional reality. The passion feels real — and, in a subtle sense, it’s invigorating.
The song, which coasts along without much of a break, feels steeped in classic grungy energy, but it’s also a bit soulfully soaring. The emotively wavering but undeniably passionate singing helps establish this feeling of powerfully fist-pumping triumph. The instrumentals, which themselves feel a bit soulfully passionate, communicate a sort of creeping sense of unease, but Wild Powwers don’t stick around in that hinted-at, growing bog. Instead, there’s a personal sense of subtle ascendancy in the sound, like cruising off towards a horizon with eyes straight ahead.
The group’s tones are grungy, but their sound feels a bit pointedly breathable. The grooves are great, with a sort of warm surety in the sound as the swagger-inflected guitars and poignant basslines roll out alongside resonant and earthy drums. Although it’s definitely soulfully inclined, the sound also carries a nice kick for its whole runtime, like musical dust clouds. The central melodies are catchy, like — to take a cue from the album art for What You Wanted — splashes of bright color across an otherwise potentially foreboding and quaking expanse.
Featured image via Jasmine Kara
Pre-order What You Wanted at this link.
Here’s a live performance video of the track as well!
Read the Q & A with Wild Powwers in full below!
The band includes JoJo Gomes on bass, Lara Hilgemann on vocals and guitar, and Lupe Flores on drums, and all three participated in the interview.
The Music’s Emotional Core
CH: Thanks for your time! The music is great. So, how would you describe the emotional core of the new album, in a sense? What sorts of things do you feel like the songs gravitate around? There are a lot of dynamics in there.
Jojo: For me personally, the songs on this record were all written either just before or just after an accident that led to me getting sober, so it’s all sort of tangled up in that. It was really interesting to be working on or finishing up ideas we had started on when I was in a really dark place, while in a entirely different headspace. The time period after that recovery was incredible as well, I was feeling so refreshed and creatively energized, and it really felt like all three of us were really on the same page and excited to make things. I feel like we collectively exorcised a lot of the demons of the years leading up to this recording, and channeled them into a really special collection of songs.
Lara: I think this album for me has some of the same core emotions, and ideas. Until they’re being processed differently. Like most of the art and music I make, it comes from a struggle I have had with mental illness. It is a constant struggle for me, and I was at the time of writing (and currently) dissecting what it meant to be in a constant spin cycle with myself, and realizing that unless I communicate and advocate for myself there won’t be anyone else magically appearing to do the work for me. There is a lot of anger in these songs, and some of it is directed at myself for not seeing that I have enough value to work on myself.
Lupe: Personally, I was dealing with what ended up being an unfulfilling relationship that I still am working through the loss of. I’m pretty sure the three of us were all in our own very dark places while we wrote these songs. Besides the upsetting state of the world and the US government, as a band, we want to be just that- a band. We just want to focus on touring and writing good music. The infrastructure in our country is not set up to take care of musicians and artists, so it’s a constant struggle to survive and do what we love and what serves as our therapy. Regardless, I’m so grateful we have each other to work through these feelings in a creative and productive way, resulting in an album we’re all proud of.
Crafting the Jams
CH: What sorts of things tended to drive the process of creating the music for this record? In other words – were you after particular sounds? Did you build the sound around the emotional/ lyrical themes? Some of both?
Jojo: I don’t know that there was any sort of set goal or intention, but it did feel like our last record, Skin, was a bit of an ah-ha moment. Hugs and Kisses and Other Things, our second album, was the first one created with all three of us (when I joined the band, the first album was already recorded and being mixed), and that record now feels to me like us feeling each other out. On Skin it really felt like we found a way to blend all of our disparate interests and influences into something cohesive and interesting. To me, the songs on What You Wanted are an extension of that. It has a pretty wide range of different tones and moods and sounds, while all still sounding like Wild Powwers.
Having never been great at writing lyrics or keeping any sort of journal, the music I write and the ideas I bring to the table tend to be a form of therapy for me. The act of taking whatever thoughts and feelings are swirling around my head and making them exist in some sort of external sonic way helps me feel like I’ve processed them more instead of just blocking it out. It’s healing.
Lara: Writing songs together has always been about finding things we love in our own influences, and then challenging ourselves to think outside of the box and push ourselves. I like to challenge myself to write differently as much as possible. I can struggle with that especially because I don’t have any training or education in music, but in a way it makes me feel like I can just goof off and not worry about following any music guidelines. Writing lyrics happens after the song is formed.
Lupe: We didn’t intend for our album to “sound like” anything besides ourselves. Most of the time, we just fuck around at practice and ideas are constantly surfacing. The ones that stick are the ones on the record (and some will be on the next record). Our creative process is forever developing and changing depending on our moods, hence the very dynamic nature of the songs.
Lyrics come later, and often reflect what we’re feeling at the time of writing them. For example, on What You Wanted, the song “Chrome” is about the time we were hit and sent on a tailspin on the freeway on our last tour and thought for a minute we were all going to die. “Bone Throw” is about our struggle with the music industry and how we don’t want to have to be shitty human beings or appease anyone’s standards in order to “make it.” There’s also songs that deal with things like misogyny, heartbreak, etc.
CH: How does the live performance experience figure into your music creation process? I feel like your style would be quite poignant in a live setting. Do you write things with an intention of translating well live?
Jojo: Definitely! The majority of our songs are made up collaboratively, with the three of us all in the same room. This seems to keep things based around a live band sort of setting. We all love playing shows and miss being in that amazing rowdy, cathartic energy. This record definitely saw us getting more into overdubbing and adding layers than past albums, but still with a focus of what the essential parts are, and recreating that in a live environment. Thank god for loop pedals.
Lara: Oh yeah absolutely. We have songs that we know are better live, and some that are better for an album. As much as we want to add and add more crazy stuff while recording, we are still a three piece. We only have so many feet and arms to recreate what we write. We want to make sure that whatever we are writing is fun live and also doable.
Lupe: Absolutely. We are definitely a live band and write and record in a style that simulates what it would be like to play on stage. That’s just where we feel the most comfortable and play the best. I can’t WAIT to be able to do it again. If I could tour every day for the rest of my life, I would do it in a second.
Handling the Band — and Connecting with Other Bands
CH: How would you describe any sort of guiding principles for the band, as the project moves forward? Based on dates on Bandcamp, the project doesn’t exactly seem new. So, more specifically — have you been a fan of this kind of music for awhile? What are your personal histories with the music like?
Jojo: I think the band has been going for about 7 years now? Crazy; definitely the longest time I’ve been in a project. For me the only ongoing sort of principle or goal with this band is to not repeat ourselves and continue to find ways to write music that is exciting and rewarding to all three of us. I’ve never been in a band where the musical interests are more all over the place and different from one another than this, and while that can sometimes make finding a middleground take a little bit longer, I feel like that really keeps things fresh and interesting for us.
Lara: This year has been a frustrating, frustrating year. We are usually halfway through writing a new album before the one we just recorded has even been released. And with the pandemic, things have been exploded on a band level and also a personal level. So going forward, I’m sure we’re going to be writing a lot and trying to make up for lost time. Everything we’ve ever written has been influenced by our very wide variety of musical tastes. I don’t know how to categorize our band from the inside, I just know I personally like what we do and I want to keep doing it.
Lupe: What You Wanted wasn’t put out sooner only because we were hit with a shitty ass pandemic that halted everything. Production, touring, band practice, everything. It’s THE WORST, obviously. Everyone has been negatively affected by it for a long, long time. I’m not saying anything new here. Anyhow, we wanted to put it out earlier, but it’s real weird (and doesn’t make a lot of sense financially) to put out a record and not be able to tour on it. We’re hoping we’ll be able to do that as soon as possible, but we just couldn’t handle sitting on it any longer. We have to move on creatively.
CH: So, one lighter question — what music, of any sort, have you been listening to and really connecting with lately? What’s been on your heavy rotation?
Jojo: This last year was a mixture for me of exploring albums I didn’t know as well by artists I’ve loved for a long time (Melvins, Sonic Youth, Can, Stereolab, Cocteau Twins, Unwound (RIP and thanks for all the inspiration Vern)) and some great new releases by friends (Drugs, Disheveled Cuss, Nicholas Merz). Recently I’ve been way into pretty much everything the Chicago label International Anthem has been putting out, Teenage Snuff Film by Rowland S. Howard, the new Nels Cline record Share the Wealth, and a newfound obsession with Coltrane ballads.
Lara: I recently have had Marinero on repeat, and I also noticed Dorotheo sneakily released an album they had recorded years ago.
Mostly I have been listening to friends bands, and D&D podcasts. I’m lame.
Lupe: I’ve been ballz deep in hip-hop and RnB lately. Sault, Tyler the Creator, Eve, Lil’ Simz, Lizzo, etc. Then I’ll switch back to the rock tip with Guided by Voices, Chavez, Prism Tats, Disheveled Cuss, and Helms Alee. Luckily, my homies in Helms have been in my “quaranteam,” so I’ve gotten to witness the writing and practicing of their next record, which is INCREDIBLE.