Los Angeles is full of aspiring bands, actors and various entertainment artists hoping to hit it big. And it absolutely happens to the lucky, talented and hard-working. Usually it requires all three. Comprised of longtime friends Jesse Taylor, Mike Wilson and Jesse Carmichael, Wildcat! Wildcat! is poised to be just be such a group, so if you like to brag about pegging a band as the next “big thing” stay in-the-know when it comes to rising musical talent, you should probably pay attention. Featured just last year in Hello Everywhere, a documentary that followed both Wildcat! Wildcat! and Passion Pit as they performed at SXSW, things have been moving right along for the LA-based trio, with a fan base quickly spreading throughout the U.S. and abroad. Released this past August, their album, No Moon at All, boasts a full five stars on iTunes.
Each of the guys has a strong background in music going back over a decade and have more or less collaborated on and off for the entire time, going through multiple band names and even genres of music. The progression has all led up to the quasi-alternative culmination that is Wildcat! Wildcat!, a band that your friends will thank you for turning them on to, while also envying your acute ability to discover a palatable feast of music that has yet to become mainstream.
All of the songs are catchy; I challenge you to listen to the iTunes samples and not want to buy the album. As with any release, some songs are more radio-ready than others and listeners will probably find themselves gravitating most to Hero and Marfa, although some of the others like Nothing Below and Sentimental have equal merit and perhaps a bit more going on. All of the tracks however are very precisely executed, something that Jesse Carmichael recently elaborated on when we sat down with both him and Jesse Taylor prior to the final show of their latest tour: “I think we are just so detail-oriented that we pour so much into everything… we don’t have a lot of filler sound-alikes, it's just kind of like every song is its own thing, we give equal attention to everything.” They are the first to to admit being overly meticulous over even the finest details, a quality born out of passion.
Each of the trio brings a different focus to the table, as with most groups, but there is no clear song creator necessarily. They emphasize that every track is an equal collaboration but never the same, “It’s different every time we try to write a song.” Jesse Taylor discloses, “We can all kind of navigate through the start of an idea, the baseline… when something gets going, it usually gets passed around… some songs start out with a beat or keyboard line… [then it’s] alright, that’s cool let’s roll with that.”
Except when it came to the opening to Tower, which quite literally is the product of Carmichael’s subconscious. “We took a month off to finish up Garden Greys, Up and Beyond, and Tower,” Taylor smiles as he recalls, “Michael and I were working one morning and there were so many versions of Tower it was driving me crazy, and we just couldn’t figure out where to take it and [Jesse Carmichael] comes running in and doesn’t say anything, he just runs to his computer and he’s like ‘guys I had a dream’ and we are like ‘what?’ and I guess he dreamt about how Tower should sound in the beginning, ‘cause that wasn’t there before and Michael and I were like okay, we’ll work on this other song while he does that…. And then he finished it and we were like, ‘Yeeeeaah! You remembered a f*cking dream. And put it down.” Ultimately the audio creation would also double as the opening to the entire record.
The guys admit that in the beginning it could be difficult to iron out the details and often had to, in their own words, “choose which hill to die on,” because they all hold such strong opinions on every element of a track. “The way that we write is so particular, every song has its own personality," Taylor explains, "It takes a long time to finish a song. And that is why we had [Morgan Kibby of M83] come in and look at it objectively and co-produce the record. Some songs, there were 10 different versions. I think each song means a lot.”
Kibby came in to co-produce No Moon at All, and you can hear some of the elements from her own background in the album, which at first the band was apprehensive to include, but agree that it was indeed the right direction to go in. In the end, listeners will find an expanse of sound that runs the gamut from psychedelic to pop and the execution of each song, if nothing else, is emotive and balanced.
Two and half years in, and the guys are working hard with their eye on touring overseas in the new year. Things have moved quickly. “I think there was just a time – or at least for us – when things became pretty obvious…it just became, like, ‘this is something we should be doing,’ which we were very fortunate to have that,” Carmichael observes. "We worked really hard to get to that position and it just kind of happened to us.”
When asked how it feels to be doing so well as an emerging group, selling out shows in foreign cities and getting to know their fan base, he continued, “Meeting people that have the record, love it, and have been affected by it, that’s the reason you make music. Even if it just gets to one person, it's still...that’s another human being that’s impacted by your music and that’s what carries us.”