Wild Child's Van Is A Steal.
Behind every great band is a great van. And when these former church vans, daycare buses and plumber's work vehicles have racked up enough miles on the road, they eventually start being thought of by the band as another member of the team. Hey, we get it: It's hard to spend so many hours with bandmates (both human and machine) without a few things getting broken, a few good fights taking place and lots of great memories being made. We hope that, by exploring these stories, we might get to know some bands from both North Texas and beyond on a more personal level. Check out this feature's archives here.
Back in August Ben Kweller, expanded his Noise Company record label, hiring the first pair of employees he wasn't also married to — Mary Juney and Emmy Black, who came from New West Records and Bar None Records, respectively — and signing Austin indie-folk/pop band Wild Child, who just won Austin Chronicle Music Awards in the Best Indie Band and Best Folk Band categories.
The signing makes sense on a number of levels. For one, Kweller produced the band's sophomore full-length, which earned its release last week. Then there are the Austin ties both acts presently have, as well as their shared tendencies to create big-sounding, undeniably hooky, unapologetic and borderline cute pop tunes.
But unlike Kweller's most recent solo record, which was intended as the artist's big return to loud, distorted guitars, Wild Child is a plus-sized outfit completely devoid of guitar. The band's latest effort, The Run Around, centers on the delicate sound of Alexander Beggins' baritone ukulele and the interesting chord changes it creates, with volin, cellos, piano, bass, banjo, drums and boy/girl harmonies filling out the rest.
We caught up with the band at its Good Records in-store last week, where Wild Child was promoting both its album's release and a Prophet Bar show later on in the night. Afterward, the band's members gave us a look inside of their exceptionally tall van.
Band Name: Wild Child.
Van Name: Khaleesi.
Year/Make/Model: 2010 Dodge Sprinter.
Mileage: “Right under 60,000.”
Where did your van come from? How did you acquire it?
Sadie Wolfe (cello): “We stole it.”
Alexander Beggins (vocals/ukulele): “We got it from someone on the East Coast and [lead vocalist/violinist] Kelsey [Wilson] flew out there and drove it back. I think it belonged to a youth group or something, so it's got the Holy Spirit in it.”
What makes your van special? What are its best and worst features?
Alexander: “It's got TVs.”
Sadie: “Three TVs. Two on the headrests — but they don't work. Everything broke at the same time: the Bluetooth, the TVs, the videogames, the AC.”
Alexander: “First world problems.”
Alexander: “We installed this ACâ€¦”
Sadie: “Which doesn't really work.”
Alexander: “It's got a lawnmower generator on the bottom of the van and we have to pull the crank and start it like a lawnmower.”
Sadie: “And it only cools the front seat, which already has AC anyway.”
What are your favorite features of the van?
Alexander: “We just took this row of seats out, so this is kind of a great spot. Two people sleep here.”
Carey McGraw (drums): “Not a goddamn thing. The fact that you can stand up inside it? The TVs suck, the AC sucks, the Bluetooth sucks. And, look, if you put eight people inside, it's not that nice.”
What are its worst features?
Alexander: “During the summer, it's just miserable. These windows don't open and, even if they did, the air doesn't circulate to the back. From here on back, [basically everyone behind the driver] is angry all day long.”
Who usually does the driving?
Alexander: “We split it up pretty evenly.”
Carey: “Day drivers and night drivers is the thing.”
Alexander: “I'm a day driver or morning driver.”
Do you have any good breakdown stories?
Alexander: “This AC is ghetto-rigged with a lawnmower generator. We did that so it would be cheaper. To get a legitimate AC put in is like seven grand, and this one was three. Then we had to put two more grand into it to get it to work. And we have to fill up a propane tank every ten hours. We kind of screwed up on that one.”
Carey: “We're going to be the band you hear about that blew up — the band that blew up the wrong way.”
Alexander: “We have to find a U-Haul or a Campers USA and be like, 'Yeah, we got a propane.' And they're like, 'OK, bring it up.' Well, we can't.”
Chris D'Annunzio (bass): “We actually just use the AC unit on top to store all the pot.”
Alexander: “But, no. I mean, it's never really broken down. We're pretty good about gas, too. A lot of bands kind of push it, but we cherish our gas station runs. We like to get out and buy shit.”
What are your best memories from being in the van?
Alexander: “There was one trip back home from Dallas to Austin. We decided to do it after the show. We were playing at The Prophet Bar and we went over to the 7-Eleven right before midnight and got four bottles of wine and had a raging dance party for like 30 minutes, swaying the van and pounding this wine.”
Chris: “I may or may not have been twerking on top of the seat.”
Alexander: “Just carelessly being outrageous. Then everyone collapsed and fell asleep.”
Carey: “That same night, when we got to Round Rock, not far from home, there was a horrible wreck where traffic was just stopped. We were all the way home and we had to sit in fucking turn-the-van-off traffic.”
Alexander: “We wanted to get home so bad. It was the last night of a tour, and we were just half-an-hour from home and stuck in traffic for two hours. We had this awesome drive last time we were in California up the 1.”
Carey: “Just listening to The Beatles, stopping and getting in the water when you wanted to. It was fucking beautiful. It's hard to bitch about anything in life when you're in that paradise, just cruising.”
Alexander: “Everyone had been fighting that tour and, on this drive, we were jamming The Beatles, everyone was stoned. We stopped and went swimming, and when we came back in it was like, 'Wow. This is a cool job we have. We shouldn't take this for granted.”
Carey: “Yeah, what the fuck are we bitching about?”
What are the best modifications you've made to the van, decorative or otherwise?
Alexander: “These are our stapled condoms.”
Alexander: “This guy in Tulsa, Oklahoma owns a candy shop and he made us our own candy bar. We try and put the cool fan stuff up.”
Where'd you get this sweet wolf banner?
Sadie: “We lifted it.”
Alexander: “We lift a lot of stuff. There's a hotel in St. Louis and it's also got a mall inside the hotel.”
Sadie: “St. Louis is the shit.”
Alexander: “We found this store, and it exclusively sells throwing knives and full-on swords. They had this sign randomly in there. We were like, 'We need that.' But it was, like, 50 bucks. Well, 'That's too much for that.' But we needed it in our van.”
Wild Child performs on November 10 at Fun Fun Fun Fest.