Hear & NowMusic

Wilderado Brings Nostalgic Feelings of Folk to The Underground

Oklahoma indie-folk band performs live at Music Factory on June 20

a portrait of the band Wilderado standing in an open field
Wilderado (left to right): Justin Kila (drums), Tyler Wimpee (guitarist, vocals) and Max Rainer (lead vocalist, guitarist). (Photo by Cassidy Mandel)

There’s nothing like the sound of live music settling into the cool air, replacing the summer day’s heat that has been absorbed into the asphalt. The sight of twinkling patio lights looks just as pretty as the night sky, a portal of sorts into the music venue, where you’ll spend a few hours suspended from reality. 

Wilderado, an indie-folk band from Tulsa, Oklahoma, takes you into that expansive atmosphere with soaring vocals, rumbling guitars, and a sense of belonging with their open-road, Americana-inspired feel. The trio will take to The Underground’s stage in Charlotte on June 20 for their ongoing US tour. Wilderado’s sophomore LP, Talker, is set to release on Sept. 20 via Bright Antenna Records.

The record is as authentic as it is grounding, with its stripped-back tracks and nostalgic melodies that sing of a yearning cry for home. The record feels like a cottage at the end of the cul de sac, or the oversized chair you’ve fallen asleep in countless times at your grandmother’s house — the places where you’ve felt the most comfort, the simple thought of which brings a longing to experience that feeling again.

Queen City Nerve had the pleasure of speaking with Wilderado’s lead singer and guitarist Max Rainer about the upcoming LP and what he’s most looking forward to on tour.

Queen City Nerve: What were some of the inspirations behind Talker?

Max Rainer: When we finished touring relentlessly for the first record, we allowed ourselves to take a break and came back with the question, “What do we need to do to keep doing this?” I think we were over being gone so much and [how touring] took a toll on us. The unanimous idea was to get back and make something that was going to excite us and make us want to get back on the road.

We needed to know what we could do for us to love another record. Fast forward to two years of trying to figure that out, we realized we had to figure out how to be ourselves. It was our sophomore effort, and there was a lot of pressure and confusion about what we wanted to do. 

We allowed ourselves to take the time to continuously work back to being yourself — that’s all you can be. We tried to be more honest, confessional and intentional with how the record sounds. We had such a blast — we worked so hard and now we’re just sitting on a record that we love as much as anything we’ve ever done.

That’s awesome. What have you guys learned between making the self-titled LP and this record? 

Max Rainer: We learned to be less precious yet more intentional — not worrying so much if something’s not working out, but at the same time make sure that we’re putting in the work to keep chasing an idea we like.  

With the first record, it was like, “Here’s the song. Here’s the recording. Give it to the label,” and then you look up and realize that now it’s out of your hands. With Talker, we made sure we knew what it sounded like and what direction it was going in before we let anyone else have an opinion on it.

Because of that, we were able to find the sound we were chasing and share it rather than people constantly giving us that information.

The band is set to play Lollapalooza in August. Is this your first time playing the festival?

Max Rainer: We played Lolla in 2018.

Are you looking forward to this year after six years away?

Max Rainer: I think we’re always excited to play. It’s an honor to get invited to a big festival. We’re looking forward and we love Chicago. We’ve got good people there, and it’s always a celebration of a moment.

Out of the four songs released from Talker, which one do you like playing live the most?

Max Rainer: Honestly, they’re all feeling fun during rehearsal. “Tomorrow” is really fun. We all love that song, though. “Talker” is also fun … Gosh, I hate to say all of them, but it’s all of them. It feels good to play new music and it feels good to see how everything comes together after working on it for so long.

Any artists or songs that you’ve been listening to a lot lately?

Max Rainer: I’ve been listening to a “happiness frequency” in my house; it’s awesome. We put it on and let it play all day. It’s turned our house into a spa. I wake up in the morning, I turn that thing on, and it plays monotonous notes and frequencies … It seriously feels like you’re at a day spa.

I’ve been into the Mk.gee record, that is popular. It’s just so fresh. You can just tell he’s so good, and it’s fun to listen to. Other than that, it’s just the same thing. I don’t listen to a whole lot [of music.] A lot of it’s the soundtrack as we’ve been finishing these mixes. A lot of the time, I get too much in a comparison world if I’m listening to other music while I’m working on ours.

That totally makes sense. It can be overwhelming, almost like a sensory overload, where you’re constantly listening to sound. Sometimes you just need a break.

Max Rainer: Yeah … Comparison is just about the root of all evil. It’s hard not to do it when I’m working on stuff. But every once in a while, I’ll step out of my madness and some artists will connect. I got into that Steven Wilson Jr. record for a little bit. We’ve also been listening to Waxahatchee a lot.

Wilderado will play at The Underground on June 20 at 8 p.m. with support from Flyte.

Read more: Evan Plante Returns to Music as True Optimist


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