Thanks for your time, Evan! Would you mind telling me a little bit about yourself, Wilderun, and how the band came to be?
Wilderun, as it is now, formed at the beginning of 2012. I had been writing some music for a couple years prior but the band didn't really start until that year. The first few months were mostly just me and Wayne working together on orchestrations and arrangements, and once that was nearing completion, Jon and Dan "officially" joined the band. We recorded our debut album, "Olden Tales & Deathly Trails", in the spring/summer of 2012, and released it in September.
Since the release of your debut, "Olden Tales...", Wilderun has released a second album,"Sleep at the Edge of the Earth". What was the theme, inspiration, and story behind the 2015 release?
There was really no concrete theme or concept for the album when we started. However, once the songs started naturally taking shape, we noticed that the dynamics of those particular tunes were a lot more extreme than the previous album. The heavy parts were darker and more intense, while the soft acoustic/orchestral parts were significantly more intimate and delicate, so when we got into the studio, we had that in mind, and made sure to emphasize those qualities. We were also a bit less focused on making a 'Folk Metal' record this time around, which was slightly more of the goal with the first album. The 'Folk Metal' parts were still there, and came naturally, but they felt more like one part of the story rather than the whole book.
Lyrically, I definitely went a lot more personal on "Sleep..." than "Olden Tales...". While I still wanted to convey an epic and escapist vibe to match the atmosphere of the music, I wanted to incorporate more relatable and human ideas into the lyrics, and like most lyrics, most of them have to do with relationships—whether that means romantic relationships, friendship, family, etc. The arc of the album is somewhat a tale of the rise and decay of a human relationship. More specifically, the rise and fall of a man's will to connect with the world and the people around him.
I, for one, definitely got more of a solemn and dark feel from "Sleep..." than I did "Olden..."—both albums are great though! I like the slight change-up (in emotional/musical impact). To finish up the talk on record specifics: how do you feel the writing/recording sessions went for both albums, respectively? And is there a certain 'process' the band has for getting through it all?
The process for both albums has been somewhat similar: I will bring the band the full songs, and Wayne and Dan will help to orchestrate everything and flesh out the instrumentation. I usually have some drum ideas in mind, but Jon certainly takes a lot of his own knowledge and ideas to enhance any drum parts. Same goes with Dan's bass parts or Wayne's guitar parts (or Joe, for the new record). Wayne took all the orchestration duties on the first album, while Dan and Wayne shared the work on the new album. They both have unique styles that compliment each other quite nicely. As for recording, we've recorded at the same studio for each album so the process hasn't been too different. However, for the latest album, we had a bit more time so we weren't quite as rushed. We were able to experiment with some more sounds and playing techniques which helped add even more depth to the album. We were also able to be a bit more picky regarding the mix.
Wilderun's music is as vast as it is in-depth. I could only guess at what would inspire you to write such music. What are the band's main influences? Whether it's other bands, nature, philosophy, mythology, etc...
Seeing as how we're all pretty big music nerds, I'd probably say music is our greatest inspiration. Not the most original answer, I know, but it's the truth. Luckily, we all have a variety of tastes, so we all bring something different to the table. I like listening to a lot of Indie Pop/Rock and singer/songwriter music, Dan, is really into Industrial/Electronic; both Wayne and Joe are heavily into Classic Rock/Metal, and Jon has a lot of Prog/Fusion tastes. We all find common ground with a lot of Metal though—of course Folk Metal and Prog Metal are both big influences for us all. Besides specific bands, we take a lot of inspiration from musical texture and instrumentation. I think that mentality is a lot of what shapes Wilderun, besides the actual songwriting itself.
Besides music, I would certainly agree that nature has played a good part. In terms of overall atmosphere and feeling, we all strive to make Wilderun a fairly organic sounding band. I think a lot of this has to do with the universal quality of nature. Just like we wanted to write about universal emotional themes, we wanted the atmosphere to feel like something innate and somewhat primordial; something that any human can tap into if they want. I think this is why, especially compared to the first record, we didn't focus too much on any specific mythologies or historical ideas. All that stuff is fun and great, but sometimes I feel like it can be limiting in terms of who you're connecting to and the types of emotions you're attempting to convey. Folk Metal has always had a very powerful, spiritual feeling to all of us, but I do think it (sometimes) has a tendency to be lyrically and conceptually narrow-minded, which is a shame considering the heavy emotional power the music itself can bring. Not to say that we've completely succeeded in "overcoming" this, but I think its one goal of the band.
How would you personally describe your classified sub-genre—(Symphonic) Folk Metal—as a whole? And what role do you feel it plays in the Metal community? We touched on it a bit when you said there was a sort of spiritual connection, but would you mind elaborating?
I generally like to think of Folk Metal as just that: Folk music + Metal music. Folk instruments + Metal instruments. It seems like a lot of people in the Metal community see Folk Metal as a much more specific thing: songs about Norse mythology, folklore, battles, etc. All that stuff is great, but to me, it can be a bit of a limiting viewpoint, so I think we try to view Folk Metal in a broader, more general way. Its honestly hard to say if Wilderun will forever be a Folk Metal band, but for now, it seems to be the best way to describe the sound and atmosphere we create. Eventually—hopefully—we can just ditch the genre-labeling, but alas, the music industry doesn't seem to like that too much.
I've never found "genre-labeling" to be a problem. I see it as more of a tool necessary to search for what it is that the listener is personally attracted to.
Yeah totally, I know what you mean. It just sometimes gets a bit scary when we're working on new material and its like "oh no, this doesn't sound like Folk Metal! The populace will be deceived!" [laughs].
Would you mind listing a few bands/albums you'd recommend our readers sink their teeth into?
Hmm, as far as Metal goes, I doubt there's much I could recommend that your readers won't already know, but I'll definitely shout out some smaller acts that everyone should keep their eye on:
Aether Realm (Melodic Death/Folk) - "One Chosen By The Gods"
Troldhaugen (Avant-Garde, Folky Metal) - "Ramshackle" or "Obzkure Anekdotez for Maniakal Massez"
The Dread Crew of Oddwood (Pirate Folk Rock) - "Heavy Mahogany" (their new album "Lawful Evil" is coming soon!)
Waves of Amphitrite (Epic Metal) - "World Maker"
Trogool (Dungeon Synth) - "In The Mists Before The Beginning"
Any last words for our readers?
We'll most likely be hitting the road again sometime this summer, so make sure to check up on our website/facebook/bandcamp page! Thanks for the interview!
Thanks for your time Evan, it's much appreciated. We'll keep in touch!