Since their debut in 2011, Wild Child has become a staple in the Austin, Texas indie scene, but stolen hearts around the world with their endearing ukulele melodies, honest lyrics, and charming live performances. Sweeping the festival circuit this upcoming summer to perform their latest effort, Fools, the folksy six piece is continuously on the rise.
Before performing their first of three hometown South by Southwest showcases, founding duo of Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins (who may or may not be newly engaged) sat down with Transverso at local favorite, Swan Dive, for a chat about their latest album, touring, and the inspiration behind it all.
TRANSVERSO: Fools came out in October, how’s that been going?
KELSEY WILSON: It’s going great, we have a lot of really good festivals lined up because of it.
I’ve heard third installments of anything, whether it’s an album, TV series, book, is typically harder to write. Was this true for Fools?
WILSON: Writing has never been an issue for us, that’s something that has always been there. With the first record we did it all ourselves. We rented equipment and figured it out. For the second record we did it professionally in a studio with a producer, like a nine-to-five kind of thing. This last record we found our favorite parts of both of those and just used them. We were in a studio but we could be there all night and we were just with homie producers, so at 2 AM if I was like, “I wanna do vocals right now!” I could.
How has Fools changed your live show?
ALEXANDER BEGGINS: Well, it’s kind of a curse because we just want to play all the new songs we just wrote, but we have to play a back catalog, but it’s been good and I think we’ve written a lot for our live show in mind. There are bigger songs, some more crowd friendly foot-stomping tunes. It’s weird how your live shows can dictate what you write.
What inspires Wild Child as creative individuals?
WILSON: Other people. It’s always about experiences we’ve had with other people, we can only write about exactly what’s happening. It’s always straight from the journal, which makes it kind of hard because it’s extremely personal and really honest but we cant write something that we don’t agree with entirely and feel entirely. So, yeah it’s always just exactly what’s happening which is funny because then you sing about those tiny ass moments for the next two years every day and it’s like, "I’m still talking about that?"
You’re forced in to remembering those small moments repeatedly.
WILSON: And you have to get right back in that headspace every time you sing it, and Fools is pretty extreme.
Wild Child came together as a band from writing about break ups and situations like that, so is it hard to perform those songs over and over again even after those feelings have passed?
WILSON: After awhile they start to mean different things. You can attach songs that we wrote four years ago to different people. We wrote a song four years ago and still to this day we’ll be playing it live and be like, “That’s what I meant - that’s what that means - I get it now.” So they’re constantly evolving the more we experience and the more that we play them. It’s not actually always the same, which is cool.
It makes the meaning change over time, so it gives it a whole new feeling towards it.
WILSON: And you get to celebrate these experiences through meeting other people who’ve had them and connected to the song, so the songs stop meaning a song about a bad thing that happened and now it’s a song that connects you to thousands of strangers you don’t know.
So how does it feel playing SXSW as a band from Austin?
BEGGINS: It’s really comfortable, this is like in our backyard and we actually only play Austin like once a year, so it's fun for us to get to play. But it feels like no pressure at all we already have everything we need, so it’s not like we’re trying to find this, we need this, this guys gonna be here. We’re just here and lets play some songs. It doesn’t really feel like a festival to me.
WILSON: Yeah it’s just that one time that our city gets trashed and super crowded.
Back in Chicago we have Lollapalooza, but it's more contained.
WILSON: We’re going to Lollapalooza for the first time this year.
BEGGINS: We’re stoked; really excited about that.
Are there any cities you are especially excited to go to for this upcoming tour?
WILSON: We have our favorites, I think we’ve played everywhere now so it’s kind of like what friends we have that are living there that we haven’t seen in awhile. It’s always nice to go to New York, LA, Chicago. Chicago has always been really good to us. Always.
BEGGINS: We’re doing a lot of stuff in Canada this year, too. Vancouver for the first time will be really exciting.
Wild Child has a sort of grassroots fan following. How do you think that will develop or evolve as you continue to grow as a band?
BEGGINS: I think that we have this secret weapon. We’ve developed this fan base that I think is going to be with us for a long time. It’s not this overnight success; all of the fans have grown with us for the past five years.
WILSON: It’s been a slow and steady build. For the past five years every single time we go through a city the crowd is 30% bigger, so it feels sustainable and real.
BEGGINS: I think that’s the way to do it these days. I mean, we would take overnight success if it came to us, but it's nice to know you can handle what’s coming at you.
WILSON: And with overnight success - how do you keep that up? You can’t, no one does. But it’s like we can keep this up all damn day.
How do you keep it up? Last year you were out on tour for about nine months, plus writing and recording a record.
WILSON: We’ll schedule. If we don’t have to leave the hotel room until 2 PM, we’ll wake up early and do some writing. We went to Savannah, Georgia to record Fools. It’s beautiful and we just needed to go somewhere where we didn’t know anyone except for the producer and the studio, so it was like, that’s our option. We rented a house and it was like summer camp.
BEGGINS: Our whole life is pretty much on a calendar.
WILSON: It’s in 48-hour sections. I know what we’re doing today and I know what we have to do tomorrow. At all times.
Fools is out now. You can buy it here.