Genre-bending rock band Wieuca might not exist today if singer and guitarist Will Ingram had not met drummer Rob Smith on the first day of sixth grade.
“I think I saw a Led Zeppelin logo on one of his folders, and we started talking, and we kind of started a band that day,” Ingram said. “And we’ve just never stopped playing together.”
The pair met bassist Jack Webster and guitarist Jack O’Reilly separately while they were all students at UGA. Though Webster transferred from Big Morgan — what Ingram described as Wieuca’s biggest rival band at the time — the group of students formed a band.
Four years ago, Wieuca was instrumental in planning the first Odd Street Block Party when Ingram lived on Odd Street. Co-organizer Evan Leima recruited him to help plan the first block party.
“It was originally my idea and Christian Deroeck [from Deep State] and Will were just all like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it,’” Leima said.
It can be hard to define Wieuca’s music — the group is “not married to any style,” Ingram said.
Instead, the band’s goal is to take a lot of the different sounds the members like playing and jam them all together in new and creative ways.
“No matter how far we take that in a bunch of different directions, it still has to be us,” Ingram said. “It’s all about retaining our core identity but applying that to as diverse a palate as we really can.”
When asked if Wieuca will one day focus its sound, Ingram said the band will always be a shape-shifter in terms of genre.
“Unless someone’s paying us a lot of money, we don’t really owe it to anyone to stick to one sound,” Ingram said. “Until we get that million-dollar check, we’re gonna just try out as many things as we want to.”
A community of artists
While the Classic City’s music scene is fairly large, the community it provides can feel surprisingly small and welcoming.
“It seems big sometimes, but if you’re around for not that long, just a few years playing and going to shows, you really can get to know a ton of people,” Ingram said.
With each band member also involved in projects outside of Wieuca, the number of shows they each play goes up, in addition to the shows they want to see.
“We try to go see each other’s bands when possible,” Ingram said.
One of the band’s favorite parts about the “small scene” in Athens are the house shows they get invited to. Band members don’t typically know all the other bands playing — and lots of times party attendees aren’t familiar with the main acts either — but the atmosphere seems to “bring people together quickly,” Ingram said.
Wieuca’s first AthFest performance was in 2013 during the Club Crawl, just one year after the band formed. The following year, the band performed at the outdoor stage on Pulaski Street.
This year’s performance will be Wieuca’s second outdoor AthFest performance and first show on the Southern Brewing Co. Mainstage.
Ingram said one of his favorite parts about AthFest is the “marathon” of trying to see dozens of bands. There are a lot of local bands the Wieuca members have been meaning to see, but haven’t gotten around to yet, he said, and this weekend gives them the opportunity to do that.
“AthFest is a great time to get out and just check a bunch of people off the list that you’ve been curious about,” Ingram said.
Ingram is excited to see more hip-hop and punk-rock artists take the Mainstage this year, as he said AthFest has been “jam-band heavy” in previous years. He specifically mentioned DK and Seline Haze, both performing at the Southern Brewing Co. Mainstage and representing the hip-hop scene.
“I know it’s going to be really hype,” Ingram said.
Wieuca will be performing some new songs on the Mainstage this year. Ingram is excited to see how the crowd will react.
“Hopefully we don’t suck,” he joked.
Looking past AthFest and into the future, Ingram said that Wieuca is planning to release new music but refused to disclose any specific information.
“I can’t give you any details yet,” Ingram said, “but suffice it to say we are stoked and there’s gonna be a lot of noise coming from us in the future.”