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Rarely does a young band emerge with a combination of skills, talents and vision fully developed. Outfits in which each member shares a singular artistic vision and the ability to see it through is a trait mostly found in heritage artists who’ve spent decades performing together. Not the case for the LA-based quintet The Lonely Wild, whose writing and arranging talents are only surpassed by their ability to work seamlessly as one, dynamic voice.
Formed in 2010, The Lonely Wild is the brainchild of Andrew Carroll, a native of Sonoma, CA who moved to Los Angeles to study writing, music and film. Years later he unknowingly began to incorporate his love for film into the music he was creating for The Lonely Wild. “I knew I wanted a big sound. I was looking to expand my music to a much larger scope than anything I had done before,” Carroll states. “But the cinematic feel really comes from a subconscious influence, rather than a conscious effort to specifically incorporate these themes.”
Carroll and multi-instrumentalist, Ryan Ross met in school and performed together previously in their band You Me & Iowa. The two formed chemistry both onstage and off, and honed their skills as composers and arrangers in a way that compliments one another’s abilities to this day. Carroll is the primary songwriter, while Ryan often finds the way to make large arrangements performable as a 5-piece band. “Ryan’s our secret weapon,” laughs Carroll, “He’s the guy who figures everything out, which a lot of the time isn’t an easy process.”
Lead guitarist Andrew Schneider, a Missouri native and Carroll’s fellow classmate in classical guitar, joined soon after moving back from a short stint teaching and performing in New York City. “What attracted me most to the band,” recalls Schneider, “wasn’t just the amazing music that was being written, but also the approach and drive to keep building upon the arrangements, sound and overall feel. As I tell my guitar students, ‘you can always get better,’ and I really felt and still feel that all of us share that same need for continual advancement.”
Then Indiana born vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Jessi Williams was spotted while performing with her previous band, Coyote (pronounced: Ky-Yote) and was asked to sit in during a few performances. Soon after these shows, Williams found herself on a whirlwind three-week tour across the US. “Once I got in the van with the guys and we travelled a few thousand miles together, I knew this was the right place for me to be,” recalls Williams.
When drummer Dave Farina officially joined the group, he was quickly regarded as the missing piece of the equation from all other members. As Farina tells it, “The band was opening for John Doe and needed a drummer pretty quickly, so I came in and auditioned. I wound up playing that show and a few others that followed soon after and we’ve never looked back.”
Picking up solid momentum from their critically acclaimed debut EP, Dead End, The Lonely Wild quickly made a name for themselves in and around greater LA with fans such as Nic Harcourt (KCSN) and Chris Douridas (KCRW) on board. The band also continued to hone their dynamic live performance through a series of high-profile shows opening for John Doe, Damien Rice, The Elected, Laura Marling and Lord Huron in addition to their highly successful residency at Silver Lake’s famed Satellite.
Never resting on their laurels, Carroll and company kept pushing forward: writing, arranging and further developing the sound they had created together. In early 2012, the band holed up in The Hangar in Sacramento for a week long recording session. Working through consecutive 16, 18 and 24 hour days to produce what would ultimately become The Sun As It Comes, an album filled with gut-wrenching emotion, fragile beauty, and explosive energy. “It was a true labor of love,” Carroll says, “and a sheer force of will, that allowed us to finish this record. We all knew it was the most important artistic statement we had ever made, so we had to pull out all the stops.”
The title-track kicks things off, opening with sparse guitar and dual male/female vocals, striking a nostalgic chord of a parent imparting a lesson to a child of the temporary pain of removing a baby-tooth in order make room for “all that is growing”. As the arrangement expands to multiple layers and textures, the lyrics, transition to a more global scope with the second verse questioning how long someone can purposefully ignore the sound of one drum being played by “the hands of millions.”
“The song was inspired by the Arab Spring,” explains Carroll. Despite the arguably polarizing subject matter, the lyrical nuance and cinematic arrangement ascend to an emotional climax, bringing the listener closer to the beauty that can lie in unsettling chaos.
Heavily influenced by Matt Taibi’s The Griftopia, the popular book chronicling the events that led to the financial crisis in 2008, “Banks and Ballrooms” portrays commonplace conformity where success is defined solely by monetary wealth. Drums pulse and persist, almost as if leading the charge of the common-man marching to confront the 1% head-on; the arrangement — choral harmonies interlaced with Carroll’s pointed lyrics and Schneider’s increasingly agitated guitar — builds towards the ultimate realization that “we’ve been wronged and we’ve been had, another day here in the Promised Land.”
The album’s up-tempo “Everything You Need” hits the ground running with thumping guitars and rhythm section before the mariachi-influenced two-part trumpet line interjects. Sung in tandem by Carroll and Williams, the narrator professes the assurance that they will be the constant in the listener’s life -- always present, always supportive, no matter the cost. The infectious chorus pledges, “I will beat your heart,” a line that recurs throughout the album, acting as a subtle beacon of hope in a time where isolation has become far too commonplace.
The epic first single “Buried In The Murder” is a sonic voyage that perhaps best showcases The Lonely Wild’s unique and genre-defying sound. Carroll’s lyrics act almost as a confession of guilt for playing a part in corruption, greed and entitlement, fearing that a time will come when he will “talk like a liar,” and will have “sold all [his] dreams,” to fall in line with society. In no other song on the album is the emotion so dynamic. With an arrangement reminiscent of a classic western, the song allows The Lonely Wild to truly showcase their unique ability to perform each part with bombastic confidence as a singular unit. No one voice outshines the other; no member more important – collaboration rarely found in a developing band.
Released at a sold-out show at The Satellite in Los Angeles in April 2013 via their own Ursa Major Recordings (distributed and marketed by Thirty Tigers/RED), The Lonely Wild’s The Sun As It Comes is a record that reflects upon the times in which we live while taking the listener on a sonic journey of heights impressive for our time. As the album title suggests, there is always light on the horizon, despite the state of darkness we may live in. Carroll articulates, “I didn’t want us to make a dark, depressing record without offering a light and some hope to the listener. That’s honestly what we all need to see now.”