Live at CMJ: Wild Sweet Orange

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photo by Doron Gild

review and interview by Miriam Lamey
photos by Doron Gild

The dreamy, indie rock outfit, Wild Sweet Orange kicked off KEXP’s final day of in-studio performances on a rather muggy Friday morning. The band, Garret Kelly (bass), Chip Kilpatrick (drums), Preston Lovinggood (vocals and guitar), Matt Parsons (guitar), and Taylor Shaw (guitar), are from Birmingham, Alabama, and recently had their beautifully nostalgic track, “Ten Dead Dogs”, featured as KEXP’s Song of the Day. During their performance today, the band played this track, plus a new song, “When The Sun Goes Down,” a soft, relaxing track with swoony guitar riffs, an echoing, ambient vibe and velvety vocals. The smooth, yet fast-paced “Be Careful (What You Want)” closed the set on a gorgeously positive note. Wild Sweet Orange plan to release their EP November 1st, and anticipate a spring release of their album. The band plays their CMJ showcase at the Blender Theater this evening, before taking off for a short tour, running until mid-November.

Before they headed out, Miriam talked to them about their upcoming album, their musical inspirations, and deodorant.

Miriam: What have you been working on recently?

Preston: We’ve been working on a bunch of external things like business matters, which is really weird because when art collides with business sometimes it can be kinda funky. We’ve written all these songs and we’ve had our magic moment. We’ve met our guide who has broken us into the music industry which we are really thankful for and so when that sort of thing happens it is kinda full fledged push ahead to take care of some crap. So we’ve just been thinking a lot and just getting stuff taken care of. But in the mean time, i think one way that we all connect is through a creative level. We’ve been working on some new stuff. I am always working on new ideas. Anytime I get depressed about maybe like the business aspect of everything, just because I think artists tend to do that because it is a kinda weird we just constantly going back to why were here and what brought us here in the first place- we love being creative together. Just always thinking about that. Always thinking about the songs.

Miriam: So you mentioned that you are about to put an album, is that correct?

Preston: We are putting out an EP that will come out November 1st in all indie retail record stores and our record will come out worldwide, even maybe in like Bangladesh, in the Walmarts in Bangladesh in the spring.

Miriam: Do you have a title for that yet?

Preston: Yeah, it’s gonna be called We Have Cause to Be Uneasy.

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Miriam: So I have to ask, I read in an interview that you took your band name from a brand of tea, is that true and why choose that name?

Chip: Well actually it wasn’t from a brand of tea it is actually from essential oils. You know essential oils? It’s a flower, a wild sweet orange. We all use essential oils and none of us like wild sweet orange.

Taylor: Yeah, none of us use deodorant and so it just kinda a reminder to keep the band organic as ourselves organic. Like essential oils.

Miriam: What inspires you while you are writing?

Preston: I mean, like you kinda. Right now. You know what I am saying? I am not going to write a song about you. I might.

Miriam: Ohhhh

Preston: I might! I might! It’s like reality. The moment. Everyday things that we can open ourselves to can inspire us and cause us to enjoy life more. There’s magic and there’s beauty behind everything. To me there is nothing mundane. Even when i feel like it is-it’s not necessarily mundane. Everything all of the time inspires this band. Some of the best shows we’ve had are the ones when we’ve been most emotionally drained or pissed off. You just have to attach to the music. You have to attach to your art, so it can be more expressive. Therapy in a way.

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Miriam: In the song, “Ten Dead Dogs” you say something about omens and that you saw these dogs and it was an omen. Are you at all superstitious and what was the thinking behind those words?

Preston: I’m totally believe in that kind of stuff. If someone is like “I saw a ghost,” I’m totally going to be that guy who is like, you totally did! You know what I’m saying?

Miriam: Right.

Preston: I mean that’s taken from experience.

Miriam: What experience?

Preston: Well when I quit the band when I was in high school driving back from that last gig in Memphis, it was the weirdest thing I just saw so much roadkill on the drive back. So these experiences attach themselves to my brain and they come out in a weird way. I think that first lyric is seriously about being in a place in life or a relationship in life that you don’t want to be in. To write about it makes you feel better.

Miriam: Who are your main influences musically?

Chip: One of my favorite artists has nothing to do with the way I play drums or what I bring to the band. Rufus Wainwright is one of my favorites.

Taylor: I really love Bob Dylan, obviously from the t-shirt. Radiohead. Have you ever heard of Pedro the Lion? Love them.

Preston: I really love American pop music. To me nothing gets better than Tom Petty. I’m just like, does anything get better than Tom Petty? I’m really into singer-songwriter stuff, Neil Young or Van Morrison. I really want to write songs like that and then give them to these guys and make them into rock songs. We all really like this band that grew up in Boston but are located here, Vampire Weekend.

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Miriam: How would you define yourself musically?

Chip: I think we are a rock band. I just tell people when they ask that we are an acoustic rock band. Noisy, acoustic rock band.

Preston: I want music to go back to when pop music was awesome. Like Joni Mitchell. Those are pop stars to me. I even look at The Arcade Fire bands like The Strokes, My Morning Jacket or Ryan Adams. I love those bands. To me those are modern day pop bands. I am writing songs because I want everyone to enjoy them. I am not writing to the indie ghetto. I am writing for the common man. I would like for it to be something like Tom Petty playing a Radiohead song. Or Bryan Wilson playing a RedHeart song.

Miriam: You said when you were talking to Cheryl that you played for seven people. Where was that and how did it go?

Everyone: Laughs, mumbles.

Preston: Where was that? It’s more like where wasn’t that! The only thing that gets us through playing shows like that is because we have an incredibly supportive team who is always calling and asking ‘How was that show? Okay we won’t go back there, keep being patient.’ I mean those shows you have to just imagine that there is 15,000 people there. I used to do that and now I just imagine that there are seven people there and just really try to entertain those seven people because it matters and it could be the last time I play music. It’s hard to do that every time. I am not saying I do that every time, but sometimes you just have to tap into that.

Garrett: Find one person and kind of effect them the whole time. In turn, I feel like they effect the rest of the audience. It just grows. Try to focus on one person. Not necessarily trying to look at them. I’m not trying to pick up girls. At least not lately. Just focus on them and assert all of your energy on them and they kind of take that and spread it out.


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