Wildling is an indie rock band based in Los Angeles, CA. Their self-titled debut EP was released December 4, 2015.

Jon Snow, the Night Watch, and David Bowie Take the Stage

Originally posted by Digital Tour Bus on November 20, 2015.

Halloween night in Athens, GA. The second of two sold out nights at the historic Georgia Theatre. The space fills up with an excited young crowd, all anxiously waiting to see Young the Giant. But first, the opener.

The room goes dark. Through the rising roar of the crowd emerges a familiar tune from the sound system. It’s the Game of Thrones theme song. Onstage, through the fog, march three dark figures. They’re clad in black, with fur padding their shoulders and capes trailing out behind them. One approaches the center mic, and proclaims, “We are the Night’s Watch. Please welcome our Lord and Commander, Jon Snow.”

Out strolls the spitting image of Jon Snow himself. Bass slung across his shoulder, he strides to the mic downstage left, raises his sword and evokes the Georgia-Florida rivalry that played out in an annual bowl game that afternoon, “This sword is reserved only for Gator fans!”

The crowd is roaring as the center nightwatchman again approaches the mic. “And please welcome our very special guest on drums tonight, Mr. Ziggy Stardust.” And as the crowd loses their shit, David Bowie himself (by all appearances) catwalks out on stage, strikes and holds a pose. “It’s an honor and privilege to be invited here to play with my friend Jon Snow tonight. Now let’s rock.”

And with that, Wildling kicked into the arena-stomper, “Wolves (Take You).”

Speaking as a band member now, this show was insane and totally made us realize the power of theatre and costume. The crowd was sold before we even played our first note. I wish you could have seen their faces. It was like those videos of babies going through tunnels (look it up). People weren’t even sure what was happening, but they loved it. In turn, we were so jacked off their energy that we played one of the most epic sets of our lives. From the drum throne (yes, yes—this is Bowie speaking), watching my comrades parading around the stage with their black capes, moshing with the crowd, was one of the most epic things I’ve witnessed as a performer. It’s safe to say, we pulled this shit off.

The party didn’t stop with the show. Young the Giant performed as the aliens of Space Jam (complete with R. Kelly “I Believe I Can Fly” cover), and afterwards we all had a dance party in the green room with fans. Epic Halloween, y’all. Thank you, Georgia.

As we drove across the Tennessee River into downtown Knoxville, the unmistakable facade of the Tennessee Theatre appeared before us. Very few theaters make such an immediate impression, imparting both a great sense of history and style. Looking around the van, we knew we were going to perform in a special venue. Upon entering the theatre our anticipations were confirmed and our expectations exceeded. Truly spectacular, the interior of the Tennessee Theatre is capped by a high oval-domed ceiling that soars above ornate walls and plush red seats. It is also the largest stage we have performed on on this tour. As soon as we began our soundcheck, the room had a beautiful reverberation that carried our sounds with ease. Between the stage and the accommodations of our backstage area, we collectively felt that we were getting a glimpse of the “next level.” We took the stage and played a show we won’t soon forget. I believe that the room inspired us to tap into currents of electricity and joy. It wasn’t until the house lights came on at the end of our set that we realized we had just performed to an appreciative room filled with over two thousand people.

We rented a house through Air BnB for two nights in a quiet neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown. The house we stayed in had a nice old upright piano. Riding on the good vibes of Tennessee, we subsequently wrote two songs the morning after our show (later performing an a cappella version of one in Urbana). We also had the good fortune of befriending the owner, who lived across the street. She was both a coffee and whiskey aficionado—two things we cannot live without. She generously poured us several flights of rare and expensive bourbon and rye, and educated us about the finer points of whiskey along the way. 

We truly enjoyed our days off in Knoxville. We met exceptionally nice people and bought some great presents for our loved ones back home at the local store Rala. We also loved exploring the streets of Knoxville, a town that is both intimate and historic with an energy that we appreciated.

Generosity On the Road

Originally posted by Digital Tour Bus on November 18, 2015

It’s a rainy grey morning in Norfolk, Virginia. We wake up to the smell of coffee and blueberry pancakes. Nothing beats that smell, especially coming off the exhaustion from little-to-no sleep and the high of an overwhelmingly great show the night before.

Our host is Nancy. She was Erik’s elementary school art teacher, is the mother of one of his best friends, and has quite literally nursed us back to life. This morning, she is the epitome of southern hospitality and we are eternally grateful. Sitting around the kitchen island, we reflect on the show the night before. The crowd at the NorVa Theater gave us a rush of energy and excitement we had yet to experience as a band. To establish such a strong connection with an audience that’s unfamiliar with your band and your music is one of the most incredible feelings.

One fact is not lost upon us: when you’re lucky, as we have been one week into this adventure, touring brings you into contact with one of the greatest aspects of the human spirit: generosity. As a young band traversing the country on a shoe-string budget, we would be unable to pull it off without the generosity of our hosts. Young The Giant and their crew is one great example. They have generously opened the door for us to their incredible fans. In return, those fans have graciously opened their minds and ears to new songs they are mostly unfamiliar with. We appreciate and won’t soon forget the energy they’ve given us. Lastly, people like Nancy in Norfolk, who are happy to take care of a group of musicians for a night or two, allow us to forge new friendships and lasting connections to the places we visit. To our great hosts and people we have met so far, we thank you!

We take off from Nancy’s caffeinated and full, and head south through the light rain. We load into The Music Farm in Columbia, South Carolina that afternoon and grab dinner at a New Mexican-Japanese fusion spot after sound check. We have another awesome show—we seriously are so fortunate, we haven’t had a bad one yet! We’re thrilled that Young the Giant’s fans have been responding so immediately to our music and our performance. After the show we get some drinks with YTG and their crew nearby, then head to a budget motel to crash.

We take advantage of a day off to take care of business. Oil change and inspection for the van, bank deposit, and an afternoon at a coffee shop to catch up on our PledgeMusic campaign, newsletters, and social media. We run into a couple fans from the night before throughout the day, and before taking off for Athens, we give passes out to a couple for the show the next night. If they’re down to make the drive to Georgia, they deserve to come to the show!

We drive through the night and crash at our friend, Paul’s, Atlanta. The next night is our first of two sold out shows at the beautiful and historic Georgia Theatre in Athens. Another great show, and we run into the fans we gave passes to the night before at a late-night diner afterwards. They’re awesome.

We drive back to Atlanta to pass out. The next night is Halloween. You’ll never guess what we dressed up as. Up next!

Playing for Paris

Originally posted by Gentlemyn on November 14, 2015.

I’ve never played such an emotional show. The crowd might not have noticed, but I was holding back tears at several points during the set. I thought of that room in Paris, Eagles of Death Metal on a stage just as I was now, as the shots began to pour forth.

The only thing I could do was put that feeling into my drums. That’s all there was in that moment. And that’s what I did. I played for the the people in that room in Paris. The people who took their last breath there, the people who made it out alive. I played for the people everywhere who’s lives have been tainted or cut short by this violence, intolerance, and hatred. I played for them, and I felt them. They played through me.

And I felt anger in my heart in those moments onstage. But as I lost myself in the tides of emotion and sweat, I found the pain turning into love. Music always brings it back to love.

We made our instruments, our voices, our sound vehicles for love. Violence can shock us, but it can not quench our spirit. We cannot let it. We fought for the night. And we played our hearts out. We drove the darkness out of the room, as musicians are doing all around the world at this moment right now.

What happened last night in Paris changed everything for me. I was already playing for the love of music and where it brought me.

But now I’m playing for love, for freedom. I’m playing for the victims of violence, the innocent. I’m playing for justice. With every beat. There’s too much fucking violence going on in this world to be silent anymore. Especially us. Especially artists.

Every night, I’m playing for truth, I’m playing for peace, I’m playing for love. I’m playing for Paris.

We Woke Up In a Barn

Originally posted by Digital Tour Bus on November 5, 2015.

The morning of the first show of the tour, we woke up in a barn. Arriving in the darkness of pre-dawn on Thursday, October 18th, we rose to find ourselves immersed in a wilderness of color. Our friends at Zeno Mountain Farm put us up. We pulled a bag of our Wildling Coffee out of the trailer, whipped up a fresh pot and took in the forests and mountains with our hosts.

Our first show was at The Higher Ground in Burlington. Loading into the venue, we were reunited with Justin. Justin missed the epic three-and-a-half day drive from LA to Vermont because he was practicing and traveling with Young the Giant (he’s filling in for them on their first three shows of the tour). We’re all super proud of Justin picking up all of Payam’s bass parts and owning them onstage.

As it was the first show of the tour, we were curious how people would react to us. We’ve been working nonstop writing music, honing our sound, crafting our set, practicing, practicing, and practicing for the last year. Now, we were ready to lay everything out on the stage.

So that’s what we did. The response was incredible. We sold way more EPs than we anticipated. People caught along to our songs and started singing along. Hands were in the air, people were swaying, dancing, jumping. People really lost it when we gave Bernie Sanders our endorsement. After the show, an engaged couple asked us if they could use our song “Miracle Miles” for their wedding.

Burlington set the precedent for the tour, and from there the response from the crowds has only grown as we’ve eased into playing these big rooms and really honed our chops.

The next night was Portland, ME. We went straight to Tandem Coffee roasters when we reached town for an afternoon pick-me-up, then loaded into the State Theatre downtown. We played our hearts out, and the crowd responded in kind. We found ourselves signing fans’ shoes, phones, and hands (in addition to tickets, EPs and shirts). All this from people who had never heard of us before that night. We were stoked. We scored some late night Thai and passed out at a budget motel.

We were up early on Saturday and beat it to The Wellmont in Montclair, NJ. Another sold out show, another blast of a performance! Our bestie’s Yoshi (videographer), Gio (manager) and Meara (photographer/graphic designer/tour mom/merch sales) joined us.

So as we drove east into the rising skyline of Manhattan, we found our numbers doubled, from four to eight bodies in the van. It was a truly magical ride, riding off the high of our show, of being reunited, and of it being Justin’s first time in New York City.

It took us about an hour to find somewhere safe we could park the van and trailer in Brooklyn. We had one failed attempt, which involve backing out of a one-way incline ramp near Bedford Ave. and holding up traffic for 10 minutes.

The next day we all explored the city. Andrew and Meara found Halloween costumes for the band, Ryan showed his little brother Justin around New York for the first time, Erik caught up with old friends, and Casey got surprised by his girlfriend, Ally, who flew in from LA. That night, we all went out for drinks with the Young the Giant guys.

On Monday, we played out own little show at Arlene’s Grocery. It was a small room, and we packed it out. It was a really special show—our first in New York.

Years ago, Ryan told his little brother, Justin, that the first time he saw New York, it would be because music brought him there. The story came true.

It seems that our dreams are coming true. We’ve come a long way in one year. We’re seeing the world, giving our all on stage, meeting new people, winning hearts. Tour’s been a blast. If we can keep this momentum up, the sky’s the limit. What more could we ask for?

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