Originally the solo project of musician Matt Martin, Wanderwild has evolved into a collaborative four-piece band that will be bringing its indie pop sound to AthFest 2018. The band released its debut album, “In Due Time” in Nov. 2017 and has been working new music since then.
Wanderwild will play on Saturday June 23 from 3:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the Southern Brewing Co. Mainstage.
This will be the first time the band actually gets to play the main stage at AthFest, as their booked show last year got rained out. The Red & Black spoke with Martin about what Wanderwild has been up to the past year, what he enjoys most about AthFest and transitioning to a band mindset.
The Red & Black: What should people expect from the band’s performance?
Matt Martin: So, we’re doing a bunch of new material. For the last, going on a year, we’ve been working on all the new material that follows our record “In Due Time,” which came out in November. Even before that album came out, we were working on all this new material and it’s all starting to come out.
Like, we had a single come out at the very beginning of June called “Andy,” and we’ll follow that up in mid-July with a song called “Irma.” We’ll play those naturally, and a bunch of other songs that are going to come out in the next few months. We’re going to be super energetic and exciting because we’ve been on a little break.
R&B: What would you say is your favorite part of performing in front of a live audience?
MM: It’s usually the things you can’t expect. You know, the surprise response you might get at the end of a song, or the eye contact you make with somebody you don’t know that’s clearly really engaged in a song. Even the little things that go wrong can sometimes lead to fun moments.
You’re always on your toes when you’re playing live. Eventually it becomes muscle memory, especially for songs we play all the time, but still there are those moments that are unexpected. That’s one of my favorite things.
R&B: What would you say is your favorite part of AthFest? What do you enjoy most about it?
MM: It’s one of the only times all year that I feel like the entire music scene and community and even the broader art scene community, everyone just kind of gets together and hangs out and catches up and sees what everyone is up to and hears each other’s music.
You know, you hear about Athens’ music throughout the year, but it never feels more connected than during Athfest. I would say that connectivity is my favorite thing about it. And getting to see so many friends getting to do amazing stuff.
R&B: How has Wanderwild grown in the past year?
MM: We are like a totally different band than we were even a year ago. A year ago we were kind of entering into this phase. Wanderwild started as a solo project for me, and I was kind of coming out of playing in a bunch of other bands in Athens and producing and recording a lot. I needed an outlet for my song writing. Up until like a year ago, this was kind of like my thing with a revolving group of friends that played with me live, and then fall 2016 this line up solidified.
It took a few months for it to really feel stable. So the last year has been everyone really owning their role in the band and contributing to song writing and arrangement. It used to be sort of me calling all the shots, and now it’s not and I’m so thrilled about that. I really love the collaborative spirit we have now.
R&B: What has been the most difficult part of transitioning from having a solo performer mindset to a band mindset?
MM: I mean, thankfully with this group of guys, it’s been really pretty seamless. It hasn’t been hard. That’s why this group stuck, because it made sense. I always wanted this to happen. I mean, I put it under a band name and not my own to leave room for this group and this collaboration.
Of course, there are moments of growing pains. Like figuring out how everyone is going to work together and what people do best and what they don’t do best. We’re still learning all of that, naturally. One of the harder things is just finding out like, division of labor. From a creative angle, it’s actually been really easy and fun.
R&B: What is your favorite song that the band has written or released in the past year? Why?
MM: Well, right now my favorite is “Andy” because it’s the newest one. That tends to be how it works — your favorite song is usually the one you just finished. Other than that, I would say on “In Due Time,” the title track will always be a favorite of ours to play live. It’s extremely dynamic, and we just have a lot of fun with it. But I think the answer is “Andy,” the newest one.
R&B: What do you like to do outside of music?
MM: Well, I love traveling. I love hiking and I love coffee. I work at 1000 Faces Coffee. Also, outside of playing in this band, I record a lot and produce for other bands and make records for other people. I guess that kind of counts. I love getting to help other people see their visions through the recording process. I [also] like to run, and I just like being outside really.