We got the opportunity to chat with Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing on touring around the world, his songwriting process and what’s next for them. Don’t miss out of seeing them live at the Casbah on 4/20!
In an interview with Vice, you talked about being a perfectionist while making Nocturne. With the release of Empty Estate EP and Life of Pause record, do you feel your approach to songwriting has shifted?
The way that I write songs hasn’t really changed since I started writing songs. It’s always been me at a desk working on songs on my own. Over the years I’ve learned a lot more about the way things fit together with instrumentation and production, but at the end of the day it’s still the same process. It’s like anything else you do in life, the more you learn about it, it changes slightly.
Was there any specific events that happened to you that made you want to write music?
It depends, it definitely happens. With some of my earlier music and first record there was a much larger emotional connection to the songs. That feeling of writing as self therapy and you do have something to get out. It really just depends on where I am in my life. It can be a mood thing too and just portraying those feelings in a song. As I get older too, I’m very interested in the composition of a song on a more technical level. I think this new record is a variation of what I’ve done in the past because it’s not as emotionally charged.
Definitely, I felt like the new record has some 80s vibes to it.
Yeah, a lot of people have said that. Sometimes I’m just interested in putting a song together and I get a lot of inspiration from that and making a song and then you can add meaning to it afterward.
I read that you really enjoy soul music, is there any specific soul musician you look up to?
I’ve been extremely influenced by it. To be perfectly honest I’ve probably listened to more soul music in the past year or two than I have shoegaze music which is what I’ve always been into.
The record does sound sort of 80s. It’s just funny to say a decade and say something sounds like it because there is so much that happened across so many genres during that time. But it’s like how do I take these soul influences and this atmosphere from dream pop and shoegaze music and how can it fit together to make a record.
There’s this guy Leon Ware who’s worked as a producer and songwriter with Marvin Gaye that I love. There’s some Marvin Gaye records I really love.
What’s your favorite?
“I want you” produced by Leon Ware. It’s really really good. Also, a lot Philly soul.
Are you from Philly?
I’m actually from Virginia. I grew up in Williamsburg, Virginia. I feel like the only time people talk about my hometown is when you hear a joke about how boring it is. I went to school in Western Virginia, then lived in Georgia, New York and now I’m in Los Angeles.
Last time I saw you was at Soda Bar for the San Diego Music Thing, what did you think of the San Diego crowd?
I love it. We’ve played in San Diego a lot. We opened for Beach House and that was really fun. The shows are on the smaller side but the fans in Southern California are so good to us. We have a lot of committed fans and it’s great.
I know you’ve done a lot of touring around the world, what’s your favorite place that you’ve played at?
It’s really hard to pick, but we’ve played in Tokyo a few times and that was always a place I’ve dreamed of going to. Every place you go all across the world, there’s sort of a different relationship with the fans. It’s a cultural thing. It’s funny, you play in a place like Japan and there’s a very clear divide – they’re there for the show and not to interact and then they all clap when you’re done. It’s so polite. We did a few shows in South America too, did a show in Chile, Argentina and the fans are great there. We’re just really lucky to get the opportunity to travel so much.
If you could have Wild Nothing make a new soundtrack to any movie, what would it be?
You’re the solo writer of Wild Nothing, but I read about some collaboration on writing with Unknown Mortal Orchestra on a few tracks for “Life of Pause,” what was working with them like?
My friend Jake plays in Unknown Mortal Orchestra and also has a project called Blouse on Captured Tracks, he mixed the record with me. We’ve done some writing together but they didn’t end up on the record. It was the first time I allowed myself to work with others and inviting people into that writing bubble. That’s why I love working with producers when making a record because you have a new person to bounce off ideas off – it can be more technical like does the structure work or even a mood thing – like does this do anything for you?
How long did it take to write the record?
I put on an EP in 2013, and was still touring in 2013 and than at the end 2014 we decided to call it quits for a little while. I was working on stuff slowly and it was just a spread out process. I started working on this record last January. It took awhile.
Do you feel like the name Life of Pause tied into your life?
It’s true. It’s definitely applicable to my life over the last few years.
Your tour starts in San Diego on 4/20 — does that mean anything to you?
Is that code? I don’t really give a shit about weed, it just doesn’t do anything for me. I’ve never once smoked and felt creative. Wish it did though.
What’s next for Wild Nothing?
This is the first tour we’ve done in a long time, hopefully will be the first of many. I’m just excited to play shows again and be in that world. I’ve spent so much time writing and recording in the past couple years, but you just feel disconnected from the larger effects of the music that you make without getting to play shows.