One of the most refreshing debut albums in a long time, Wild Cub’s Youth, was re-released on Jan. 21 with two brand new tracks. In the midst of their United States/United Kingdom tour, Wild Cub’s lead singer Keegan DeWitt discussed life on the road and the creative thinking of his band, which will be performing at Brighton Music Hall Saturdayevening.
Daily Free Press: How has the tour been going so far?
Keegan DeWitt: It’s really good. We’ve been really busy, and as much as you want to complain about being busy, it’s good to be busy. All the shows have been really fun, I feel like now we’re finally getting to take the record that was once this thing we created in our house, such an intimate thing, and now bring it to a large group of people every night, which is really exciting and adds a whole new layer.
DFP: You performed “Thunder Clatter” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon recently [on Jan. 21]. How was that experience?
KD: It’s terrifying. It’s super terrifying. Not to overthink it, it is really cool. “Thunder Clatter” … was one of the first things to really shape as we were forming the band and is a song I wrote when I was first meeting my wife, so it’s cool to be on TV, singing a song for that many people that really represented not only the beginning of this band with this group of friends, but also the beginning of … what would later be my marriage, and with my wife and our little baby sitting backstage watching.
DFP: Can you go through the creative process for Youth?
KD: We had all been kind of floating around in different variations of singer-songwriter or playing with other singer-songwriters in Nashville, [Tenn.] and one unifying desire that all of us had, a thread, bumping into each other around town, was that we wanted to be in a band. I was trying to be a singer-songwriter. I was really excited of the idea to be able to strip my face and my name off the record and be able to present the music in a way that would really let people’s imaginations or their own personal experiences be the primary thing that they’re experiencing, versus picking it up and it’s got a cheesy picture of me on the front and my name in big block letters. … We took one of our houses and emptied it out and turned it into a studio and started recording … instead of writing for ourselves, write for the band.
DFP: What are some of your favorites off of the new album?
KD: For me, my favorite is “Summer Fires / Hidden Spells.” We end the show with that every night, and it feels like a good representation of what I wasn’t able to do as a singer-songwriter, which is tell a story using a bunch of different elements, which is rhythm, using repetition, using the intensity that you have at your disposal in a band that you might not have at your disposal with just you and a guitar.
DFP: How much has living in Nashville influenced or impacted your work?
KD: I think that Nashville is very nice, and it’s very inexpensive. I think that’s the main peak of Nashville. For me, I lived in New York for almost nine years. I was spending all my time trying to figure out how to bankroll living in New York, and a small portion of my time actually trying to create anything. Moving to Nashville and the low cost of living, and how supportive it is of music in general, made it so that I could make music and make that my full-time job, which I’m hugely grateful for.
DFP: What do you hope people will get out of your music?
KD: I hope that it’ll speak to a lot of people in a lot of different ways while still having a lot of substance and different layers to it. We’re not trying to make disposable pop … I always felt for me music is important in that it allows people to acknowledge emotions in themselves, to be able to have a friend or have accompaniment in the big overwhelming moments in their lives, even if they’re by themselves. I was really trying to dig deep into a lot of different poets, a lot of different filmmakers, a lot of different photographers who I really felt like captured these small transitional moments in your life as you’re transitioning from being a wide-eyed teenager, to a lot wiser, more refined adult … For me, I hope that people can maybe listen to it quickly and be able to enjoy it, identify it … but also realize that there’s a lot of stuff that we’ve spent a lot of time and passion trying to make sure was there.
DFP: Why should people come to the show in Boston?
KD: I can say one virtue of the live show is that it’s totally, totally different from the record. We can go out there and I’m reaching out into the darkness singing, and beating on drums, and we’re all switching instruments, doing different things, and it’s our way of trying to chase something that exists on the record … [there’s] really different emotional meaning into it in a live setting. If there’s anybody who’s been to a show of ours, they know what I’m talking about … so much about touring is you show up and you have no idea how weird the room’s gonna be, if the people are gonna be polite or not. … We hope that somewhere in there you’ve reached people and given them an experience that’s not only just unique in general but just unique in how they can connect to the record different than how they would if they were just listening on their iPod or in their car.”
Responses have been edited for space and clarity.