A Conversation on That “Groovy and Tasteful” Wilderado Rhythm – The Aquarian


The word “enthusiast” can be looked up in the dictionary under 1) Wilderado or, coincidentally, 2) Wilderado fans.

Wilderado – this is a band whose music you can find on many music playlists with titles such as ‘Totally Stress Free’, ‘morning coffee at the beach’ and even ‘songs that taste like bars of the valley of nature”. If that doesn’t paint the picture of who they are, this conversation might.

Aquarius had questions for the pseudo-indie rock band. (We say it that way because Wilderado’s overall “vibe” is much more polished than that of a traditional indie-sounding band like The Neighborhood or The Shins, but also the storytelling qualities that fit perfectly with bands like The Lumineers and Waxahatchee.) They were kind enough to take time between acoustic releases and tour prep to cater to all of them, because like their music, the band itself is filled with a friendly spirit and good kid. Max Reiner, the vocalist and guitarist of the roots band, is the pinnacle.

I think it’s safe to say that the term “alternative” genre means more and encompasses more than it ever did before. Wilderado, as a band, is alternative rock and alternative folk and everything in between. If you had to describe your sound in a few words or phases to someone who hasn’t jumped on the Wilderado bandwagon yet, how would you do it?

I think the term “rock and roll”, at its core, is something I can always embrace.

Trios are an underrated group setup, in our opinion. We love to see trios thrive and bounce sounds and talent off of each other. Crosby, Stills and Nash did it, Green Day still does it – and it’s magic. What is it like to work together as a trio, you three as creative forces, do you think? What are the writing and recording processes like?

To be fair, live we play in five tracks – mainly because I want so many parts of our record to be represented live. But we like to be a three piece. It’s hard for someone to take on the role of boss in a group. I love sharing the songs, the stage and the pressure. Three people is also a great way to make a decision; you don’t have the dead ends you get with two and avoid the group of four or more. We really don’t have much of a method other than trying to always be in the writing mindset. Recording is like getting together with our producer, Chad Copelin, at his studio in Norman, Oklahoma or ours in Tulsa, and doing our best. Chad acts as the fourth member of the studio – he’s a true collaborator like never before. My favorite thing about being in the studio with Wilderado is that anything goes. It doesn’t matter who has the idea, plays the role, or directs the direction.

Wilderado is no stranger to life on the road and entertaining from the stage. Aside from the pandemic, does this tour feel any different to you than others in the past, as an opening act or headliner?

This tour has a cooler feel than anything we’ve ever done. More than the music, the evolution of the industry or the reopening of the world, this tour is the most exciting thing we have ever imagined. We worked seven years for this tour. We feel like we have a goal now and that’s to go see the people who ask us to visit.

NYC’s Bowery Ballroom, right in our backyard, is sold out. When you hear things like that – a sold-out rock concert in the heart of the Big Apple – what goes through your mind? Because you’ve been honing your craft and shaping your indie style for a long time and those accomplishments are so heartwarming, even for us fans to see.

Oh man. That’s cool, thanks. I think that’s just it – Wilderado has a core group of people who have been supporting us from the start and now we’re all watching him get the attention and the momentum and there seems to be this collective excitement and appreciation for the achievement . It’s really special. The truth is, it creates crazy confidence. There’s no pressure to prove anything, we just can’t wait to share this music and be with the people who support it. But for your question, playing New York at a sold-out Bowery is as cool as it gets. We all come from small towns, so New York is as romantic as it gets. It’s the feeling we were looking for, but never knew how to explain to ourselves.

Tulsa is an artsy little town, but one that sometimes gets overlooked. How did Tulsa play a role in what you do and the music you make today? Are there any misconceptions about Midwestern bands and small town artists that you want to crush, as a hugely talented band with three million plus listeners?

I didn’t start writing and performing until I left for college in 2007, so I learned about Tulsa’s impact on the music world from California. We were in LA and surrounded by all the music and industry you could possibly need, but I kept feeling the need to move the band to Tulsa. I thought it was so cool to learn about JJ Cale, Steve Ripley, Leon Russell, Church Studios, and all the people who were drawn to the energy of Tulsa, so I realized if I was going to continue developing this band and working on the songwriting craft, I wanted to do it where I was from and I hope to add to all that is happening in this town. It was great to be home and not travel during the pandemic and go to the clubs around town like Mercury Lounge and The Colony and see how not only the artistry is amazing but also musicality. So many players are in multiple groups and share that spinning energy of supporting whoever the writer is that night. There are cool labels like Horton Records and amazing producers like Sam Westhoff. I think the most inspiring thing about Tulsa, for me, is knowing that it’s my home, but having earned so much respect for it in a place like LA. It’s not often that you chase your dreams in your hometown.

Last fall we reviewed your debut album which rightly is still going strong. We described the songs as groovy, uplifting, versatile and flowing. “Take Some Time” expertly presented all of this, which we’ve talked about and can’t wait to hear live. Which songs do you think highlight who you are the most? And will fans be able to hear it live as part of the setlist for this tour?

Thanks for reviewing the file! “Take Some Time” is actually a great answer to that question. I wrote most of “Take Some Time” alone, but it was horribly linear and flat, we took it to the studio and it didn’t take long for a form to be conclusive and satisfying. I guess the thing is, I like the fact that I couldn’t finish it myself. Finishing songs is one of my weaknesses, but the band and Chad seem to have that ability to turn that into a strength. I would say another song that fully encompasses our sound is “Outside My Head”. It’s wordy and melodic and combines the roots where we come from with big guitars and a tasteful, groovy rhythm.



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