Making Music: WLDLFE talks about touring and their first full length album

Photography by Reagan Lynn

The WLDLFE has spent the past few years creating music and pushing themselves to continuously do better. Amidst tour rehearsals and prepping for the road, PATTERN had the chance to sit down with the band and talk about their sound, how they’ve evolved, and their new album.

Allie: Tour starts in only a few days now, how are you all feeling?

Jack: Excited.
Jansen: Pumped.
Geoff: Ready.

Allie: Is this the biggest tour you’ve gone on?

Jack: It’s the longest by far.
Jansen: It’s the longest but I think that the growth that we’ve had in the last year or so is what makes it a bigger tour for us.

Allie: What would you say has changed since you first started?

Jack: We’re more handsome now.
Carson: I feel like we settled into our sound a bit more and have more of a refined creative process when it comes to writing. It’s more consistent. We all have such broad influences as far as the music that we grew up listening to, that you can tell, coming in, that no one knew what this was going to be. For the first two EPs it was settling in and seeing all the chips we have and then this last project was just putting it all together. It has really settled in, feels a lot smoother and most consistent.
Jason: This is the first record all five of us have played on so I think it’s the most “us.” It’s the first thing that each of the five of us can look at and be extremely proud of the work we put into it and feel like it’s representative of our tastes and our influences.

Allie: Jansen, at the show in Indy you made a comment about how excited you were that so many people you knew and hadn’t maybe seen in awhile were at the show. How did that feel?

Jansen: It’s a cool feeling. A person that made me think of that is a guy I know, Josh, who I went to middle school with. We played drums in jazz band together. It’s just funny how all that stuff comes full circle. And there were a few people there from my hometown that I haven’t talked to in awhile and it’s just cool to see people who are supportive of the music. Even though it’s not on purpose, just the nature of it all. It makes it feel a little bit more special.
Jack: It’s also validating. All of us were music kids in high school and I’ve wanted to do this in one way or another since I was 13. When I was 13 I didn’t play anything but I had a passion for it. I even saw people from my hometown who I haven’t talked to since high school that came out [to the show]. It’s cool to see my dream realized, to know that I didn’t just talk about doing this, but that I’ve actually taken the steps to do it. Not saying you do it for the validation of other people because it’s really nice when it turns into self-validation of ‘I’m seeing this through’.

Allie: Speaking of Indy, what’s the music scene here like? What is it like trying to make it here?

Jason: I’ve said this since the beginning, I love to claim Indy, even though the music scene is maybe not the strongest thing in the world just because, selfishly, you want to be the band to break any city. Not only that, but I want to do it so badly and I want to keep claiming this place because I know we’re not going to be the last people to do this. We’re not the first and we’re not going to be the last. You could look at it like how Twenty One Pilots broke Columbus [Ohio] and now people have eyes on Columbus. And if a band tries to do something, now there’s a scene developed. People are paying attention. I want to be able to give who back to kids that want to do this in the future.
Jansen: I think the self-awareness factor is important. When we started we were very much a pop band but it’s not an easy thing to go into a dive bar and pull that off. It’s not the right crowd. A dive bar doesn’t represent Indy but it’s going to be harder to break through. But being aware of that and knowing you need to build some kind of momentum before we try to be a factor in Indy.
Jason: The typical fan in Indy is usually a 21+ beer drinker. I would say the best indicator of the music scene is the Hi-Fi in Fountain Square, that’s the gathering place of the typical music fan, especially for local music. They’ve done a great job of curating shows with great artists, but it’s a strictly 21+ venue. So I think one of the main problems the Indy music scene faces is that there’s a strong lack of all ages venues. There may be one or two, but there’s a ton of 21+ venues and that contributes to that typical music fan being a little bit older, pickier.

Allie: So even though you’re not strictly in Indianapolis, as you said, do you feel like it’s a very supportive community or more cutthroat?

Geoff
: I definitely don’t think it’s cutthroat.
Jack: There’s a healthy level of competition. We don’t know a band that we’ve met and spent time with that we aren’t friends with. There is a really good community, at least that we’ve stumbled across. In our experience, it’s been all love.
Jansen
: I feel like competition is a bit of a trigger word in that sense. It’s more of pushing each other to be better. I don’t think there’s any malice toward anyone else.
Jason: It’s a good feeler for what’s possible. You might think something’s out of your reach or impossible until one of your friends does it. You think, if they can do it, we can do it.
Carson: Everyone celebrates each others victories.

Allie: Were the people in your lives supportive when you told them you were pursuing music full time?

Jason: People that were close to me were extremely supportive. I really appreciate the way my parents handled it. They helped me out a lot when it came to getting my first guitar, didn’t make me feel stupid or guilty for wanting to get into music. I have a fiance who’s extremely supportive of what we’re doing and she wants me to succeed and do what I love. The only people who have had a negative reaction are acquaintances or people who hear about it from the outside.
Jack: I really put my parents through the ringer because I started off doing metal music. So if I can get them behind that, something they didn’t get at all, with joining this band they were like we get this. So they were all in.
Carson: I don’t know how my parents supported me last year. I skipped so much school to go on tour, but they’ve always been really supportive.
Jansen: It was never really a question for our [Carson and Jansen’s] parents. They just understood.

Allie: Let’s talk about the album now. What’s the response been?

Jansen: The reaction to it has been really good. It was a project we put a lot of effort into, which shows, and I think people see that.

Allie: What were the biggest challenges in creating this album?

Carson: Just that it changed forms around four different times.
Jason: Once we decided to do a full length, and this isn’t a fun thing to talk about but we’re self funded, we payed for the album with no label. If we’re putting this much time into something, how can we utilize it best? There were a lot of discussions and plans for how the rollout was going to go so I think the toughest part is looking at it from the outside perspective and analyzing what was the best way to utilize and monetize it.

Allie: If you were to pick an overarching theme of the album, what would it be?

Jansen: The album is titled ‘I’m Not Worried Anymore’ because it’s a declaration about the idea of just because you don’t feel like things are where they’re supposed to be, you can change your mindset and speak the way you feel into existence. When I was writing a lot of the songs I just kept asking all these questions. Why aren’t we growing quicker? Why aren’t we progressing in the way that we want to? And that was a mindset throughout the process. The album itself is not meant to be conceptual, but that’s the weight I put on it because that’s the mindset and the process we were going through while writing the record. That’s what the record is really representing, but I don’t feel as if it has one true theme and it wasn’t intended to.

Allie: Is it you, Jansen, who mostly writes the songs?

Jansen: So far I’ve written most of them but there’s a couple that Carson wrote as well and in the future will continue to.

Allie: So what does that process look like for you all when making a song?

Jansen: I’m always out and about writing, same with Carson, so usually there will be some sort of demo or idea we’ll lead with. From there we’ll go in the studio and start to write and break everything down.
Jason: It’s a lot of passing ideas back and forth too. Months out, before we had even broken ground on the album, Jansen would send me a voice memo and ask what I thought. Then I’d record guitar parts also via voice memos. The process of our band is just love notes via voice notes.

Allie: Title of the next album?

Collectively: Charlie Puth already took that one.
Jason: But the process is lengthy. It’s vastly true that majority of it comes together in the studio but before then we’re exchanging ideas and shaping our vision for what we want this to look like.

Allie: What, if anything, do you want fans to take away from this album?

Jansen: There’s a stigma with pop music that it’s shallow and you can’t have any sort of depth. For me, I want to break that. One of my top five albums of all time is Teenage Dream by Katy Perry and it really changed my perspective for how good pop music can be. Not that she’s saying anything that deep, but you get what I’m saying. Your life doesn’t have to always be about being smarter or more creative than everyone else. Especially with this day in age with social media, you only have to put out what you want people to see. That’s what I want to get across about this album, it’s not this long, heady expose about life, it just feels good.
Carson: That’s why people like me and him [Jansen] are such big fans of musicians like John Mayer and Jon Bellion. As artistically creative as they are, they’re not doing anything that’s trying to be something else or trying to portray something that they’re not. Their music is literally a pure extension of themselves. That’s what we’re really trying to accomplish.
Jansen: And we’re not innately a pop band, but in some senses we lean that way and in others we don’t. I just want people to know you don’t always have to put on a certain aesthetic to prove that you’re smarter.
Jason: All music is saying something. The way I view it is pop music gets a bad reputation because what it’s saying isn’t necessarily new, or it’s not said in the most deep way. Why can’t a clear, concise, relatable message be good also? That’s not to diss heady, philosophical artists because that’s awesome too. If it’s genuine to you, then do that. One of the themes of the album, like you [Jansen] were saying, is that you can speak into existence what you want. Just do what you want, stop worrying about what other people want you to do. And I feel like we’re saying something.

You can catch The WLDLFE on tour right now or on Instagram.