Analogue Music | Wilderado


By Matt Conner

Maxim Rainer can only control so much.

It's a lesson most of us have learned in the last year-plus in the face of a global pandemic. We can allow the lack of control we have over the bigger picture to swallow us whole, or we can decide to focus on what's in front of us and learn to be present in the moment. It's the difference between health or harm most days, and the members of Wilderado were no different in this same span of time.

On the verge of releasing their new self-titled album (Bright Antenna Records), Rainer spoke with us about the creative journey taken by the band to write and record a new album and the lessons learned when forced to delay it. They're a changed band on the other side and all the better for it with a newfound appreciation for all that goes into making and releasing a record.

Analogue: The industry shuts down and then opens up and then now things are dicey. How are you holding up in the middle of everything with a new release on the horizon?

Maxim Rainer: I’m honestly doing just fine. One exercise I’ve been trying to get better at this year is not being concerned with anything I can’t control. So much of this is 1000 percent out of my control. One thing we can do is decide if we still want to make music. If the answer to that is yes, then let’s control that.

In full disclosure, the record’s old. We did this at the beginning of the last pandemic, and we’ve just been massaging the release date for a year. Now it’s getting bad again and maybe things are closing back down, but I’m just so glad that the music is finally coming out. Hopefully we get to support it on tour. That’s how we know how, but if not, we’ll adapt and figure out what we can control.

Analogue: Do the songs almost feel like guests who’ve overstayed their welcome?

Maxim: [Laughs] Maybe less like that and more like sweet friends who’ve stayed at our house who are looking to do something else.

Analogue: [Laughs] I appreciate you carrying out that analogy all the way through.

Maxim: Yeah, I love ‘em still. I’m not gonna lie. It really does just feel good to share them with everyone else, especially as people support us through this time. That’s a responsibility we’re happy to assume. People are listening to us and allowing us to put music out and picking it up. It feels like our part in that role is to give them more of it.

Analogue: Was that hard to see others releasing music and not just go for it, too?

Maxim: I respect people doing that. As far as we’re concerned, we have a team and we believe that they have a better understanding of when the music should be released—and more specifically when our music should be released. We’ve never done too much of “this band is doing that, so we should do that as well.” We’ve just continued to have conversations.

If you can convince me we should wait longer, then that’s why you’re a part of our crew. I’m not going to challenge that unless there’s something to challenge about it. We just needed a release date so we could put together the right amount of content between announcing and releasing. We need a strong tour because our fans were made on the road. They want to see us and we want to see them. It hasn’t made a whole lot of sense to put the record out yet.


Analogue: Does this change how you feel about some of the songs? Their context or anything?

Maxim: Well, songs always kind of change, I guess. It’s always wild how that happens in terms of their contextual meaning. I think if it has done anything in that vein, it’s frustrating to only talk about one song or to keep creating content for one song when there are eight or nine that I like better. Maybe I like them better because I haven’t talked about them so much. I don’t think it has anything to do with the song itself as much as it does the circumstance around it.

Analogue: Back to the touring thing. If you make your fans on the road, have you had to sharpen the other side having to lean into everything else but that?

Maxim: Great question and a great time to ask it, too, because for the first time ever, Wilderado is having its own ideas. It’s simply just because we have to, I think. Maybe some of this is shameful and I wish we’d started earlier to have our own ideas, but really all we ever did or felt responsible for was playing and being available and leaving our families and doing that well. Now that it’s changed, there’s a massive opening in our time and now it’s, ‘What the heck do we do?’

We’ve come to this renaissance that there’s way more to do in the band that to write the songs and go play them. We’ve learned to create content. What do we do and who do we do it with? How do bring our ideas and figure out to have a team that helps us put them together? It’s been really fun to think through that and stretch that aspect.

Analogue: You mentioned earlier that you’re learning to listen to the healthy voices and only control what you can control. Now that the world is opening up and the album release is on the horizon, is it harder to follow those voices?

Maxim: Man, that’s a great question. I think my answer to that I am not good at it. But I wouldn’t say that in a sense that it cripples me. It’s just the reality of the situation. What I’m trying to do is become aware of the fact that it’s never not going to be easy to compare yourself to anybody. It’s never not going to be easy to wish you’d written that line.

I think what I’m starting to navigate toward is not about getting rid of anxiety. The goal is to realize it’s momentary, look at it, address it, and then set it aside.

"I think what I’m starting to navigate toward is not about getting rid of anxiety. The goal is to realize it’s momentary, look at it, address it, and then set it aside."

My little girl—she’s five—told me yesterday, ‘Papa, don’t get mad, because then it takes all your power away.’ I was like, ‘That’s the truest thing I’ve heard in a long time.’ She said that two weeks ago and I hope it shapes the rest of my life. I quickly realized it’s okay to experience the feelings of anger and anxiety but when you are mad, you’re only mad. When you’re indulging your anxiety, you’re only anxious.

I’m just in this series of not being thrown off by things. I want to see it, let it roll through, and then another emotion will follow after it if I allow it to. The comparisons will always be there, and I’m having to reshape my mind that these aren’t things I can defeat. It’s something I learn to not be defeated by.

Analogue: You said you were tired of talking about one song, so let’s give you a chance for some others. I loved “Astronaut” and wondered if there’s a great story there.

Maxim: There’s a story. I’ll let you decide if it’s a great one. [Laughs] I love that song. That song is just about touring and all we’ve just talked about. The chorus is “on and on it goes” and I like the imagery of “I’m a feather when the wind blows.” It’s about letting yourself go with whatever come through here. That’s a lesson I’ve learned when touring so much. Things change but they’re also on and on and on. That song just felt so good to say and sing.

I also love the rhyme scheme in it. It was all so accidental and I’m so grateful it happened. “I can’t remember if you asked or not, but I’ve been feeling like an astronaut.” It’s just this classic Wilderado thing. We went to work with Chad [Copelin] and got some guitars down and then it was such an instant vibe. Then our other buddy and collaborator who worked on this, James McAllister, and I created that ending, that guitar line.

We came to a three-quarter point with the idea we were working on with Chad and I remember I had this ending to this tune I liked but didn’t really understand the beginning. So we just attached it to the end of that song and it worked out so perfectly. James came in and we sewed it all together. [Laughs] That’s basically how all of our music comes together in little bits.

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