Last week, WILDESTARR released the killer album “Beyond The Rain” and on the date of its release METAL KAOZ had the chance (and the pleasure) to speak to both London Wilde and Dave Starr about the making of it, its concept and the band’s future plans. Check out what was discussed below.
Hello Dave and welcome to METAL KAOZ!
Dave: Hi Dimitris, it is actually me with London.
London: Hi there!
Then, welcome to both of you. It is a pleasure having you both!
Dave: Thank you for having us.
Today [December 08th] marks the release date of the new WILDESTARR album “Beyond The Rain”, so how do you feel?
London: I feel really excited and it is like a celebration day, I guess. There were a lot of years spent on this, so there was a lot of work and emotions to this. It is a really great feeling; today is the day!
So, it was some sort of a relief seeing the album getting out.
Dave: This was a very difficult album to make for a lot of reasons; we had to overcome personal, logistical difficulties, with the family tragedy and relocating from San Francisco to Houston, Texas. It was also a difficult situation for London to write the lyrics about her brother passing away in the way that he did. And this became the focal point of the concept of the album. The last four years have not been the easiest in the world for us and, you know, they say “no wine gets served before its time” so maybe this was meant to be for this album to get four years to get done.
Do you think that writing this album and specifically the lyrics, was some kind of a therapeutic process for you?
London: Absolutely; for me, every time I write a song and it is about something personal - which most of the time is something that might have been difficult or sad or challenging and this is the way I process my pain. Exploring this through art is a gift and I really appreciate that I have this ability and opportunity because I do believe it helps the healing.
I will also add that this is also a brave thing to do because, personally at least, I don’t think I would be able to do something like that and most probably I would push everything under the rag and try to forget it. Although forgetting something like this is never possible.
London: I wear everything on my sleeve and I feel it is healthy and important to talk about real life and not trying to hide it. But you are definitely right; it was brave because I was writing these songs from my brother’s point of view and especially the song that was about him deciding to take his life. I had all his notes and his suicide note, so putting myself in his shoes was not easy emotionally. There were times that I just did not want to work on this song because it was very hard to go there and then, after getting into this, it was hard to get out of it. I guess I take things head on but it's not easy.
Also, I don’t know how easy it can be revisiting the album some years from now. I mean, would it be like experiencing the pain or just remembering your brother? I don’t know, this almost feels like a rhetorical question.
London: You said something a few minutes ago; you’ll never gonna forget anyway. And in fact, I don’t want to forget all the details about my brother and the feelings that I have; I want to remember. Actually, when I was working on this record, I wanted to be in a way that the listener would not have to know the story - just create good songs and I feel that we did that. Hopefully, when I listen to the album in the future I will feel proud of it, but you never know...
Without knowing the story behind the album, it felt like a huge change from the Edgar Allan Poe stories and poems to this; I mean, it felt that there was something different going on. Even judging by the album’s cover artwork where there seems to be something dark here. So, this is why you chose this cover right?
London: This is definitely a dark subject, there’s a lot of pain and there’s a lot of joy. The album is not one-sided; I mean, with what happened I reconnected with my brother so there’s some joy in it. So, it is not all dark and it is not all light either; it is a journey and like a circle from dark to light and back to dark.
Well, this is life actually.
Let’s talk about the making of the album; how long did you work on the music of “Beyond The Rain”?
Dave: I started writing the music before “A Tell Tale Heart” came out; so, some of the music goes back five years ago when I started drafting the ideas. The way that we do it is basically started with the rough outline of the song on the guitar and then I give this to London and she does her thing with the lyrics and the vocal melodies. And then, we go back and forth but the origin of the song starts with the guitar. So yes, I started writing some of these songs even before the release of “A Tell Tale Heart” and others were finished when we were in California, so it’s been three to four years ago - I don’t even remember. Four years is a very long time to make a record. But anyway, this is how we do it and, in fact, I am always writing. I’ve got an album or two worth of material already that I can start giving to London for our next project.
Oh my goodness! Speaking of the song-making, I was intrigued by the lyrics of “Crimson Fifths”, so what this song is about?
London: My brother was a guitar player and, in fact, he was a talented one; he had won scholarships and contests but over the years the guitar became a curse. His self-identity became so entwined with the guitar and when things did not happen for him in a successful way as a musician, he started feeling like a failure, and this obsession with the guitar became unhealthy. “Crimson Fifths” is what I took from his suicide note that he left in his rehearsal studio where he took his own life with the guitar strings. So, this song deals with the emotions that can affect a musician experiences, something that is unknown to the people who are not musicians or haven’t thought about it. Maybe this is unique to a musician where a musical instrument becomes so personal to him that the boundaries get blurred.
I think you are touching upon a subject that we could not cover, even if we had the entire day to talk about; what is the struggle for a musician when he is exposing his ideas, emotions his everything through an album and then having all people commenting online and some of them are so eager and fast on criticizing everything. I believe this can be hard to a musician.
London: Absolutely, you are right. There are the trolls of the internet but there are also people in your own life (like family members, loved ones) who fail to understand why you are doing this after all these years, saying things like “why are you still doing this after all these years? You will never go somewhere with this”, “you are this and that” . Sometimes (it does not happen all the time) you are getting these from all sides and you have to have a very thick skin because being a musician is to being rejected constantly. Some people want to be musicians because they crave the admiration and the acceptance of people and there is that, but there is also the other side with all the cruelty, the rejection and the insults, and such things can really get you.
Of course, accepting judgement is not easy and this is the Achilles’ heel for almost everyone and especially for an artist.
London: Yes, I think it is.
Dave, you said you already have a lot of stuff, so why did you pick these ten tracks for this album?
London: That’s a good question.
Dave: Yeah, it is a good one. I think we just wrote ten songs; I have a lot of ideas in my head and I never write or even record them, which is not the right to do and I have to find a way to log these things, especially as I am getting older. So, basically I wrote ten songs and gave them to London one at a time and I really don’t remember - there may have been some that were rejected and I think there was one song that was not finished but London wants to use at some point down the line. But we are not in a situation that we have to answer to a record company and wait for approval like it happened in the old days. We just write ten songs for every album.
London: Parts of this album were magical because Dave wrote song that I have never heard before and we recorded almost in the exact order you see them in the album and I was able to tell the story through them. It is almost like Dave planned for this but he didn’t. I think he did an amazing job with the music and it was very motivating for me.
Dave: I think there is a kind of an invisible bond between us and this may have something to do with several things and probably the biggest thing is that we are married; we’ve known each other for 30 years and we have been married for 16, so there is this rare or unique dynamic in the field of music. I don’t know any other married couples in Metal bands who may have an international profile. I don’t think I knew where we were starting out with our first record “Arrival” and I did not really know what London was capable of at that time. The chemistry that we have between us becomes stronger with every album, so that I know what London will be able to fully grasp...
London: Whatever Dave throws at me, I am going to understand what he is trying to get across and I am going to be able to write something on it. One thing about Dave is that he will not tolerate writing a melody that matches his guitar. Some guitar parts in the first album are so intricate and have such strong melodies which could make an instrumental track. Sometimes I get these chords and I am like “oh dear Lord, what am I going to do with this?” (laughs).
And what is your response? Do you say “Dave, you have to change this”? (laughs)
London: I never ask from him to change it; I just work with it and I consider it as challenge. Even he proposes to simplify it I insist to keep it that way so I can find a way to work it out.
Dave: “Undersold” is a good example of this; there rhythms and counter-melodies on the guitar and when I gave that to her I was probably thinking “geez this is crazy” and she ended up with some amazing stuff for this song that some singers would say “this is too damn busy and you have to simplify it”. On the last track of the album, “When The Night Falls”, which is probably one of my favorite songs of this album, the rhythm progression in the chorus is rather intricate and it is just amazing with what she came up with over something that many would consider as an overly busy guitar part.
To be honest, while listening to this album with my wife, we started talking about London’s vocals; she has a unique voice in Metal and if you do a research, you’ll see that there are not that many female Metal singers in the scene; you can think of Leather Leone, Ann Boleyn and Doro and… that’s about it.
Dave: Yeah, you are right.
So, we were talking about that is such a shame that WILDESTARR do not play live. We’d love to see such a singer performing live.
London: We did put effort into putting together a live lineup but it was really hard to find people who wanted to play somebody else’s music. They wanted to play their own music or they couldn’t commit or... we have so many problems getting a live lineup together that we decided to do is come up with another album and stop wasting time on this. That was some years ago and we have not tried since then.
Dave: We get this question a lot; but for better or worse, we have found ourselves in this situation where we have become a studio band making music and being satisfied doing that. A lot of bands may not be happy with this since the normal cycle is make a record and tour, and make a record and so forth. In some ways, this works to our advantage because it makes us a little bit more mysterious (laughs)... However, we have not ruled it out. I mean, if someone shows the right amount of money, you know, this is always an incentive...
London: Because it is pay-to-play out there, if you don’t have a big name.
On top of this, I believe that if WILDESTARR was located in Central Europe then there would have been more and better opportunities to play live and that’s unfortunate here in the States.
Dave: That’s true because there is so much going on in Europe with festivals all over the place.
London: Although, there are some US bands that pay to play live at some festivals in Europe. We have realized that this was not something that we can do but, you know, now that we have a bigger following, we might revisit that.
Dave: We are really happy doing what we are doing. We have a beautiful house here in Texas, we have our own forest, six exotic dogs, London’s mom has moved in and we have three businesses running from home. When I started, I was playing with VICIOUS RUMORS and back then, we were killing ourselves; touring the US, Europe and Japan and we were hardly making any money. Don’t get me wrong though, I had an amazing time and we made some amazing albums but there was not any money. And I would take a pay-cut to get out on the road with VICIOUS RUMORS and had a really hard time making ends meet. It’s one thing when you are 25 or 30 years old.
You are talking about a period of time when Grunge music was slowly rising and came close to kill the Metal scene.
Dave: Yeah, so at the age of 56, I approach life and music differently than I did 25 years ago. I am not the same person, I have different values and interests in life that I want to do. And the things I was doing back then don’t really excite me as much. I like certain aspects of touring but it was a real grind. I know there are a lot of musicians who do not have other sources of income and the only way they can survive is get off the couch and get on the road and that’s fine. If people can do this, that’s great.
Well, you can always do a show in your backyard…
London: People have suggested to us to do a live broadcast...
That's a good idea.
London: I think it is a great idea, so that may happen.
You can always set up a crowdfunding and let people who want to see WILDESTARR live make some donations to make it happen. It is the same thing with buying tickets.
London: Exactly, I think this is a really good idea.
We just have to see these songs live.
Dave: Yeah, we really appreciate your enthusiasm - it means a lot to us.
Keep in mind that I am from Europe, so my background is all about the classic Metal that we don’t see having a big fanbase in the US. The fans are scattered all across the continent here.
London: That’s absolutely true. There are some pockets of fans in the US. I would love to play in Europe and experience this almost of brotherhood of Metal with fans coming together having something in common. Just like the old days, so I would like to experience that.
Dave: It is like a religion over there. Just from my own experience when I was touring with VICIOUS RUMORS, we were never able to get big tours in the US and we were just slagging out in the clubs playing in front of 50-150 people every night at this shithole clubs - some of them were nice - and get on a jet to fly to Europe playing in front of 1000-15000 a night, doing some festivals here and there. It is very different.
London: This country is so diversified with different distractions and different types of music, so it is hard to have a coalition of similar minds. Obviously, this is a great thing with the social media because those pockets of people are able to interact with each other no matter where they live. I love that.
And this is the best way to close this interview; on a high note. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us!
Dave: Thank you for having us!
London: Thank you and I have to tell that people at webzines, radio shows or just bloggers who are Metal fans like us are doing this for the love for this music, and we appreciate this, we really do.