Wild Pink may be one of Tiny Engines’s most recent signings, but they have not slowed down for one minute since joining the roster last August. The band blends a variety of indie and emo influences to create a warm, nostalgic sound that is perfect for the current transition from winter to spring. Vocalist John Ross took the time to speak with 36vultures on the creative process and work that went into their recently released full-length debut, Wild Pink.
The two previously released EPs are clear stepping-stones towards the tone the band has honed in on for the LP. “We put that first EP out in June of 2015 and then we just went on tour a lot,” said Ross. Despite, or perhaps because of, all this touring, Ross remained inspired and continued to write more and more music. “Every time we went out we would have pretty much a new setlist.” With a lack of time constraint, the band was free to take as long as they needed to complete and refine their final output. This lent itself to a very organic progression in sound; “it just kind of naturally started to come what it became.”
The end product displays a cohesive core tying together each song, while affording enough breath for individual experimentation. “Everything starts alone with a guitar and then I think about who I’m playing with and kind of make decisions based on what I know we all like.” Many tracks pass the four minute mark, but Ross “feel[s] like the longer ones are just songs in different parts. They’re kind of more than one idea put together so they get a little bit longer… I just have a lot of little ideas that I want to incorporate. It’s all coming from the same place and there’s certainly a through line, but hopefully there’s some variation from track to track.” Though Ross does the initial composition on his own, once his ideas are mostly fleshed out he will bring them to the other members of the band and “kind of let them do what they want to do… They definitely add a lot and it is collaborative in that way. They add a lot of that variation to make each one unique.”
Still, the way that these songs are originally written certainly comes out in the lyrical content. Tracks like “Battle of Bedford Falls” deal with the idea of isolation, sometimes self-imposed, in the modern era. “I’m definitely alone a lot. And writing with a guitar is a singular process, so I think that probably does come across… I didn’t make a conscious decision to write insular leaning lyrics; I think it’s just the natural state, you know?” This also ties into the struggle of finding meaning in your personal life. “Great Apes” opens with the questions “Do you do what you believe in? / and believe in in what you do? ” while closing with the statement “You don’t think you do less now / but what you do used to mean much more to you.” With these simple phrases, Ross channels the certain type of tension between moving forward and growing stagnant in a place of comfort or routine. “Especially getting a little bit older I feel like it’s harder to find [meaning in what you do]. You just want to make sure that you’re doing things that you care about.”
As the album progresses things take on an air of political commentary, which is especially evident in the final two tracks. The tracklisting is largely chronological so it makes sense that as events with the presidential election unfolded Ross found it hard to stay silent about the state of this country. “‘I Used To Be Small’ [is] thinking about how ridiculous gun culture is in this country. And how there just doesn’t seem to be any accountability from the people who can actually do something about it. It’s just so frustrating.” The closing number, “They Hate Our Freedom”, was meant to take a sarcastic look at the way Americans are viewed throughout the world, “but that sentiment [now] kind of bizarrely sums up a lot of the worst things that are going on in the country in a strange way… I mean, Jesus, to think that Trump is elected when the other candidate got three million more votes and the whole world’s supposed to hate us because of our freedom. It’s just laughable. But particularly relevant lately.”
With the album officially released, Wild Pink is hitting the road yet again for the majority of March. Fans should also keep an eye out for a solo acoustic track entitled “Albert Ross.” This was recorded at the same time as both the Four Songs EP and Wild Pink. “I was glad that ‘Wanting Things Makes You Shittier’ got a single; that was one of my favorites. But I’m excited for [fans] to hear ‘Albert Ross’ too.”
Purchase Wild Pink and view tour dates here.