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Posted at 1:40 PM ET, 02/ 9/2011

Be specific: Wild Nothing on staying secluded

By David Malitz

wild nothingWild Nothing is one of the best of the many current bands drawing on sounds from '80s.

Wild Nothing plays wistful, ‘80s throwback indie rock and records for ultra-hip label Captured Tracks. Based on that quick resume one could reasonably guess the quartet is part of the legion of Brooklyn bands overrunning the current musical landscape. But not so fast. Jack Tatum, who for all intents and purposes is Wild Nothing, wrote the songs that would become the band’s lauded debut, “Gemini,” while a student at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Va. He’s since graduated and moved, but has chosen a city better known for its metal scene than retro indie pop.

Tatum talked to Click Track about staying off the beaten path and the long process of touring behind a debut album. Wild Nothing performs at the Rock & Roll Hotel with Abe Vigoda and Deleted Scenes on Saturday night.

Blacksburg doesn’t seem like a hub for hip music. Was there any sort of scene there or were you basically on your own? Do you think that’s a good way to start, as opposed to, say, being in Williamsburg?

I do. I think it was good for me being in a place where you’re very much just making music for yourself. And that’s kind of the way I’ve always made music. Until recently I haven’t had any big aspirations or goals to get my music out there. But being in a place like Blacksburg - the only kind of live music there was in Blacksburg was jam bands. Being someone who wanted to make the music I did, you do it for yourself. You kind of are on your own and it kind of is an isolated feeling, for but for it was good because you’re very much able to just go inside of yourself and make music and not be pulled around by what other people are making or are into at the time.

Where are you living now?

I actually just moved to Savannah, Ga. I’ve told a few people that and they’re like, “Oh... OK.” We’ve been on tour forever. From the time I’ve graduated, we’ve just been touring and in between places, not really settled anywhere. I entertained moving to New York or somewhere else but I just got tired of being in places like that. Not because I don’t like them. I just wanted to be in a place that had a lower energy level, if you know what I mean. … I kind of like the more relaxed lifestyle, I guess.

(Tatum talks about making it through the “trial period” and talking about his influences, after the jump.)

You’re on tour again. With that first album you really have to tour [non-stop], and hit the same towns multiple times. Since the band started out as such a low-key venture, does it ever get a bit tiring?

I mean I can’t complain about it too much because at the end of the day I get to go out and travel and play the music I wrote for people. But we’ve been touring a lot. I’m looking forward to this one, it’s the first time we’re doing a full-on U.S. tour and the first time we’ll be dipping into Canada. So I’m excited when it’s new places. And especially now that the album has had some time to sink in. I feel like we’re out of the trial period. The people that will be at the shows are people that actually want to be there and not just people that are curious. In the beginning we had a lot of people coming to our shows who were in the judgment phase. Like, “I’ve heard of this band, I’ll go check it out and see if I like it.” You just get a bunch of people looking mad that they’re there. That’s not fun for anybody.

When talking to people about your sound, do you ever feel like you’re taking a quiz where people just throw out obscure ‘80s bands and ask if they were an influence?

For the most part it’s fine, especially when it’s fans at shows. I love talking to people about what they hear in my music. It depends. It gets a little bit [weird] if people throw out a bunch of names. There are a ton of bands that I listen to and enjoy that I don’t really mention. But when people ask about it I just keep it simple. I don’t think I’m fooling anybody. I pretty much am totally honest about saying I was listening to dream pop, shoegaze and ‘80s indie pop bands. I’m totally cool with talking about that if people want to.

By David Malitz  | February 9, 2011; 1:40 PM ET
Categories:  Be specific  | Tags:  Wild Nothing  
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