The Wild Strays - Interview
Crawling out from the depths of the Midlands Music scene, wielding the self-defined genre of 'Punk and Rock and Metal and Stuff'; our aim is to bring music to the masses that everyone can get onboard with.
When we first came across the Wild Strays there was some noticeable tension within the band. What was the cause of that?
GRACE: At the time, we were still adapting to a significant change within the group, naturally there were some teething issues regarding our altered line-up. Combine this with some seeded personal issues amongst the members and things will naturally get tense. Bringing together a group of passionate individuals and expecting fireworks would be ideal but not always realistic.
KT: Yeah, I was struggling with a bit of a personal meltdown, so adapting to the changes was a bit tougher for me.
Your original bass player Jake left to join the armed forces and was replaced with someone who was inexperienced. Do you feel that this was the right move for the band?
GRACE: Sometimes it’s not about right or wrong but about what is possible at the time. Inexperience was made up for by drive and motivation. Personally, I’d choose not to judge a musician on their skill but what they want to achieve and how they go about doing it.
Did things work out? Maybe not immediately but in the long run, we have achieved a new position of strength. I’d like to think that all previous members have increased their own through this experience too.
KT: Losing Jake was indeed a blow to the band; he was a great guitar player, let alone bass player and his general presence in the band was an important part of the dynamic.
As for the replacement, I agree with Grace, inexperience is never really the issue. I would always rather have someone who wants to be in the band; someone who practices hard at home and puts the effort in, over someone talented with a poor attitude. Finding any musicians that are really dedicated is actually harder than you think. You need to find someone who likes the genre & band vibe and on top of all of that, you need to find someone who gets along with everyone. Ultimately you are spending a lot of time with each other and finding the right person is critical.
What was it that prompted KT to part ways with the Wild Strays?
KT: Well it wasn’t one direct thing; the simple answer is I had a bit of a breakdown. I called a couple of meetings with the band and sat down and explained that I was struggling with many things and just couldn’t focus on anything.
In the end, I just had to leave for everyone's sake. It was awful timing I agree, but I just couldn't take it and I had to leave the band. Seeking help through therapy and other treatment options.
GRACE: Yeah, it was kinda like some conflict of interest mixed with an inner conflict against her personal demons. Sometimes wars have collateral damage; I like to think she left to find victory in hers and return stronger than ever.
How did that departure make the rest of the guys feel?
GRACE: There was naturally a lot of anger about it all, like KT said, the timing wasn’t great. With recent financial investments and approaching gigs, I personally had to take on a significant amount of responsibility.
But you know, they say hindsight is *ahem* 2020 (inside joke…); so ultimately it doesn’t matter what perfectly normal and expected emotions we felt. We are here now and better than ever!
As mentioned before, you had an inexperienced bass player but also the current drummer was unreliable. For better or worse the band had lost a guitar player/lead vocalist. For want of better words was flying in the face of disaster really the way to go?
GRACE: Is it really a disaster when the band has come out stronger in almost every aspect? Put simply, sh*t happens but how you recover and rebuild from that is what defines us.
KT: Yeah, I agree. The changes didn’t affect the spirit of the band; the true grit that The Wild Strays are good at. In those situations, you have to carry on; I think Grace stepped up, led the charge and did what any band should do. Even receiving recognition from yourself down the line.
As Grace says above, I think we have all come out stronger for it.
The ep launch turned out to be a digital release rather than having physical copies available. Who’s idea was it to do that and do you feel it was the right decision?
GRACE: That decision was made by our bank accounts. CDs cost money and considering we were down to 3 members at the time, with only 1 being a capable investor, the funds nor the demand existed to push on that front.
I could continue to argue the merits of a physical release in this day and age but ultimately, it’s a simple case of: We wanted to, we just couldn’t afford to at the time.
KT: I mean we understand that the independent scene people want to walk away with something physical, but we do live in an age where most people will listen via online services, which the EP was available on.
I am quite a keen observer and never comment very much on information that appears on social media. What was the catalyst that caused your then-current bass player to leave the band?
GRACE: The fine line between love and hate. Sounds dramatic, right? Well that’s the crux of it, make of it what you will, the other side of the story is often a contrasting view.
Oddly enough, in my view; the music. The band. It was all just a too familiar cost that had to be paid but not the actual reason for the departure. The band became a sacrifice for a greater, overshadowing issue.
Having parted company and dealing with your own personal issues, what prompted you both to begin talking again?
KT: It started with a brief conversation on a Facebook wall in May but it was about a month later when we properly started talking. She was going through a difficult time herself and so we arranged to meet up one evening and both laid our cards on the table.
Then over the next month or so we started talking about the possibility of my return to The Wild Strays. I think my smile said it all.
GRACE: I think I needed the familiarity. The irony was that KT left to fight her demons and in turn, it led me to have to face my own. My anger was surface level towards the timing of her departure and so it was easy to see through all that and recognise her loyalty.
I never wrote her off from my life though. I just held onto that bit of anger for a long time; fuelled by others that no longer need a mention. Rebuilding friendships is easily done when you focus on promoting their many strengths rather than spotlighting their few flaws.
Was it an easy decision to decide to rejig the line up and play together again and did you test the waters first to see if it would all work?
GRACE: Easy decision to make? Yes. Easy to execute? Not so much.
KT and I had both started other projects and though they weren’t anywhere near as progressed as The Wild Strays, we still had those commitments to manage. After a few weeks of deciding what to do, we threw caution to the wind and just set up a jam session.
KTs drummer, Liam, already knew a few of the songs and I recently auditioned a suitable bass player, Mike, for another project. I think we knew from that first practice together that we had the right mix; fortunately, so did Liam and Mike.
The New Wild Order sees the band with a far more professional set up, new songs and in demand with the audience chanting the bands name before you hit the stage. Has it surprised you both how quickly it’s all come together?
GRACE: In a way, yes; but only because we are still in a bit of disbelief about it all! We owe a lot of thanks to our supporters but also to our new blood.
Liam is super talented and shows a very professional attitude in the studio; someone who is dedicated to his instrument. He adds a new level of energy to the songs, old and new. I’ve never seen a drummer take notes before, but he literally takes notes in the studio and I love it!
Mike somehow demonstrates a masterclass in bass, that’s made even more impressive by his short tenure as a player! His presence on stage and his adaptability is incredible for someone who performed his first official gig with us a few weeks ago!
Break everything down to its core and you realise that nothing seems surprising about our achievements anymore!
KT: The reception we had for our comeback headline show at The Flapper in Birmingham was incredible. We just looked at each other and was like “Let’s do this” and so we hit the stage hard. It was a fantastic night and we couldn’t have wished for a greater way to kick things off again.
We feel as a band we have turned a corner. Yes, we have a few battle scars; and we wear them with pride. And yes, we have fought through the wilderness; but we feel we have something quite special now.
You’ve played a number of gigs with the new line up. How has it all been?
GRACE: I think there is some teething still going on but it’s no detriment to the line-up. We have new gear to manage along with some new stage antics; naturally it takes some adjusting.
Overall though, most of the shows we’ve played so far have been amazing with some really positive feedback. This is the strongest we have been and we are just getting started.
Now we just hope the world can handle something so Wild!
Previously before it all went wrong I would have said that you were on the edge of great things but since you have got back together and swapped out some band members I would say that you are very much a few levels above where you were. Fair comment?
GRACE: I wouldn’t say it all went wrong, but the new blood has definitely injected more passion and drive into The Wild Strays. Combine that with the new skills that myself and KT have picked up during our hiatus and we have a very good mix.
There’s no ego anymore, no unreliability. Communication between us is healthy and most importantly we have become good friends, as well as just band members. An attribute of a band that should not be overlooked.
The ep is now a physical release which has been very well received. What are your plans regarding looking towards an album in the future?
GRACE: If all goes to plan, new Wild music will be Straying into your old-fashioned CD players next Spring! We are also hoping to increase our social aspect throughout the production. Expect silly blogs, ridiculous live streams and of course, awesome music!
Oh and we really want to get our guys on the record soooo… Maybe a single by the end of the year?
Have you got a message for all of those that stuck with you both through thick and thin?
GRACE: You have our eternal gratitude! We are extremely grateful for any and all support; it is why, we are one of the very few bands (the only one that I know…) that have loyalty cards for their store purchases and gig attendance!
The Wild Strays is all of us and we are just trying to be noticed; make sure you stand up and be too.
KT: We are really lucky to have people who never lost faith and they continue to come to the shows and support the band.
To them, we would say, with hands on hearts; thank you so, so much. We make music and play shows because we love it. Come to a gig of ours and you will see a very honest and raw show. Sure, we have fun onstage, but we really do play with such passion and heart. As Strays, we come together as one. A real unity, and I love it.
Although you still have several gigs coming up and a very important London debut, have you looked at playing any festivals next year?
GRACE: I think festivals would go really well with our planned album release. This is definitely on the cards and we hope we can hit as many as possible across the country. Gather as many Strays into our New Wild Order as possible!
Where are you at with regard to a headline tour?
KT: This is something we have spoken about in the last few weeks. I think a Wild Tour could really happen for 2020. In fact, I would go so far to say, this really needs to happen.
GRACE: Wherever we play on a bill, we always make it a headline show anyway. We are going to focus on expanding across the country and playing as many towns, cities, villages, kingdoms and counties as possible. And if we are at the top of the bill, then that’s more time and opportunity for us to prove ourselves!
Any final words on what we can expect to see from you guys?
KT: I think it’s a very open book; this New Wild Order is a fresh page. Anything is possible and we plan to prove that in 2020.
GRACE: Yeah, from a music perspective, you should know what to expect by now anyway; but we want to be more than that. We are working on some other Wild (ad)ventures, that may delve into gaming, comics and even TV!
Are these just pipedreams or realities in waiting? Find out by following our staple suggestion…
Keep it Wild, Strays!