Last Updated on October 24, 2020 by Samantha Dalcourt
KINGSTON, ON – The Wilderness, a diverse indie rock sextet born in Kingston, among a group of Queen’s alumni (mostly) released their latest album, “Until Tomorrow” this past summer. Despite the pandemic, the band pulled together a highly impressive self exploratory, melancholic, yet upbeat album.
Not only releasing 13 colourful new tracks, the band released several music videos. One of them being their darkest, most introspective music video’s yet, illuminating self-reflection, the experience of realizing the mundanity of life, and the paranoia that brings.
Self reflection, discovery, and what it means to be human are common themes, The Wilderness address within their music. “Until Tomorrow” captures just a fraction of what their music explores. Songs from previous albums, like “Virginia Sapphire” are like big hugs, and “Where I roam” make listeners feel apprehension, frustration, and worries about never truly finding yourself.
Several videos are set in Kingston doing things many young people do while discovering themselves in the wilderness of life. Videos like “Pick You Up” and “Virginia Sapphire” are set in the city, around several small Kingston run businesses. References to, “Princess Street,” the city’s downtown strip in “Graveyard” demonstrate their embedded connection and origin to Kingston.
Although they sing about big philosophical ideas, they do so through small, but meaningful moments centered around remaining present and enjoying finer moments. Tracks like “Pick You Up” are reminiscent of the past, and worries about the future, yet offer refuge from life’s stressors and regrets. They speak about heartbreak, love, loss and hope. They offer solace, and celebration for any kind of listener.
Track 4 Music Video, Analysis
The track titled, “Graveyard” happens to be one of their darkest songs and depicts the protagonist, the band’s keyboard and percussion player, Liam Neale (26) as he’s followed by an anonymous stalker. A stalker who later turns out being the protagonist, himself, after digging his own grave. The music video opens with Neale acting as a bartender in his twenties closing up after a long work day. The video starts in grey-scale which suggests the dullness of working the graveyard shift.
Zooming in on the specials that cleverly align with the band’s album track list, “Graveyard” is the band’s chosen single to introduce their latest album, “Until Tomorrow”.
Exhausted and bored, Neale closes up, exists, and the song begins. Working is depicted as a temporary escape from constantly repeating the same routine day after day. Just as the bar closes, his paranoid racing thoughts about life and purpose begin. References to “Seeing signs” and being called to “get outside”, suggest Neale is left desiring more than what is ordinary.
Once home, Neale smokes, arrives at the closet market after realizing there’s nothing to eat, only to find it closed. Nothing is going right for this character, which reveals the song’s meaning behind, “I guess I shut my eyes in this graveyard”. The graveyard being his dead-end job, fearing being perpetually stuck, “in the same bar”, although knowing he will inevitably succumb to it.
The saxophone is soothing against the intense guitar playing. The quick paced chords give, “Graveyard” urgency, like someone running away, much like someone experiencing internal conflict would. Lyrics like, “invisible cage in your mind” and “so much time collecting rent just to give it all to government,” and “I just smile” better point to feelings of entrapment.
Neale is stalked by the ominous figure through a parking garage, beside a church, down side streets, and outside a convenient store. He cannot escape his inevitable fate. “Trying not to fall asleep in a graveyard”, the bands chorus sings, a metaphor for being awake in life by experiencing the human condition not just by surviving, but living as someone affected by emotion, love, beauty, and tribulation. “Talk is cheap on Princess street”, a lyric sung right before his entrapment, which not only points to their ‘Kingstonness’, but also the negative repercussions of talking about something without actually doing anything about it.
Neale tries to escape the dark figure by going home, only to meet him there as his haunting thoughts continue. When the music intensifies, the figure takes him, burying Neale in an unmarked grave, with the intention of replacing him. It appears the protagonist gave up just as he feared in the track’s beginning. The figure is now an embodiment of the new Liam Neale, asleep so he can cope with his life. His doppelgangers menacing smile ends the video, leaving viewers speechless.
The Wilderness know these thoughts are sometimes self inflicted, but also sometimes a product of things we have no control over due to working a dead end job, with little reward in the end.
“I guess i’ll shut my eyes in this graveyard” truly gives this away.
Check it out yourself!
An Interview with The Wilderness
In an interview with YGK News, The Wilderness talked a bit about themselves in more detail.
What do you imagine listeners doing while listening? If you were to pair your music with a beverage, a setting, a feeling, what would it be?
“Some of the answers to this question we have actually received might paint a good picture. We once had a fan come up to us and say that “Older Now” helped her reconnect with her father. A friend of mine (Nick) recently said to me that if she were the marrying type, “You, the Ocean” would be her first dance. The other night, one of our partners heard someone blaring “Dancing in the Dive Bars” while riding their motorcycle and I think all of us wanted to be that person. I think that speaks to the question, but if we were to choose a few pairings, here’s what we would suggest: “Where I Roam”: A walk through an unfamiliar city on a hot summer’s day “Graveyard”: Staying at your local watering hole until the lights come on “Pick You Up”: Driving around with old friends, reminiscing about old glory “You, the Ocean”: A secretive but romantic getaway to a house on the beaches”.
I guess I’m asking: why should we listen? What feeling do you want listeners to leave with after indulging into your world? What is your music world about?
“I think the ultimate feeling we want to leave with the listener is that no matter what they’re going through, they are not alone. All of our music is shaped through our personal experiences, deconstructed, and then re-imagined in a way that anyone can relate to. Whenever someone chooses to listen, we really hope that they walk away being able to relate to what we write and find some personal meaning in our music”.
Who are you (individually)? What drew you to the music industry? What does music mean to you?
“I don’t know if any of us were really drawn to the music industry as much as we were drawn to music, and then being a part of the industry naturally followed on from that. All of us caught the “bug” for music very early on and it’s been something that has played a major role in our lives ever since; At this point I don’t think it’d be possible for any of us to “quit” music because it’s become such an integral part of our individual/collective being”.
How would you describe your relationship with each other? How’d you meet?
“While some individual friendships date back to our high-school days (EG Liam and Henry), the original four-piece lineup of Jonas, Karl, Sacha, and Henry after Jonas saw the other three performing at an open mic at Musiikki Cafe and begged them to start a band. Liam joined the band for their first major US tour about 2 years later, and Nick was amicably tricked into joining the band a few months after that (he’s not mad, we promise).. Five years in, we’re basically family. We may not have a perfect relationship with each other (who really does), but we’ve been through so much together and have such a love and respect for one another that we’re able to power through whatever challenges we face”.
Although your band originated in Kingston, do you consider yourself a ‘Kingston band’, and if so, why? Do you think Kingston has a specific sound?
“We are most certainly a Kingston band, not just in the sense that the band is from Kingston, but that the place has really shaped our music. This city is all over our lyrics, and if not for the experiences we’ve shared here, none of our music would be possible. What truly amazes us however, is that despite the fact that none of us originally come from Kingston, the amount of support and love we’ve received from the community here has made it more of a home than anywhere else could be. Kingston has a thriving and diverse music scene, so it’s tough to try and nail it down to one sound! We’re surrounded by talented artists who perform across genres like Savannah Shea, Oscar Evans, and Sadaf Amini (just to name a few) all of whom make this city the beautiful soundscape that it is. For us at least however, the kind of “Kingston sound” that we strive for is a great degree of honesty in the music. Think of those well-known rock artists in the Kingston canon like the Tragically Hip, the Headstones, and the Glorious Sons; despite their fame. all of them use their own raw experiences as inspiration for their music lyrics, and we take a lot of inspiration from that”.
If you could describe your band in three words, what would they be?
“Fun, energetic, and honest.”
Who are your biggest influences?
“Since we all come from different musical backgrounds, we take a lot of influences from many genres of music, but a lot of the big ones would be Bruce Springsteen, Mumford and Sons, Bob Dylan, Fela Kuti, Badbadnotgood. The Police, El-P, and Sam Fender.”
What inspired the band’s name, The Wilderness?
“The name was inspired by a quote from survivalist Dick Proenneke: “When the time comes for a man to look his Maker in the eye, where better could the meeting be held than in The Wilderness?” In his writing, he describes moving into the woods of Alaska as a challenge to himself which would leave him naggingly unsatisfied if he didn’t attempt to accomplish it. This inspired the motivation behind the and; our dreams seem like such a brash and bold idea, yet none of us would feel fully satisfied with ourselves without pursuing them.”
How often do you tour?
“We try to tour as much as we possibly can! Obviously due to the state of the world that’s not fully possible, but once we’re able to, expect to see us on the road as soon as we can be!”
Tell me a bit about the new album. What inspired songs like “Twenty Five”, “The Silence”, “Closer”, “Where I Roam”, and your classic hit, “Dancing in The Dive Bars”?
“Much of the new album was written during a group writing retreat to the snowy mountains of Quebec during January of this year, so the album overall was inspired by a lot of turmoil we were feeling at the time, both related to our lives at the time and things we’ve gone through in the past.”
How can your fans connect with you? Is there anything else you want to plug, anything you want to say to listeners?
“We can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter (just search for The Wilderness Kingston), and all major streaming services (Itunes, Spotify, etc.) Please feel free to reach out to us over any of those platforms, and please check out “Until Tomorrow!”
While getting to know the band, it became evident how personal their music is to them, but also how much joy they get from sharing their personal lives with the world.
The sophisticated sounds of the saxophone, and energetic intensity of the band’s keyboard, guitars, and vocals set it up as a Kingston band, but of its own kind. Bringing not only an escape from the trivialities of life, but also a celebration of life itself. Their lyrics tell stories beyond the material world, and of discovering fulfillment in the things we love. Life is an experience of discovery, creation, collaboration, and love for these musicians. Having toured over 400 shows since discovering themselves, it is evident these musicians care about bringing people together through music.
The band’s full story is available here.