In reality, I haven’t had a particularly heartbreaking or sad life. I don’t remember a time when I’ve ever been depressed, or even so sad that a long angry jog wasn’t able to fix me. I’ve never been in real love, which is probably a shame, but it means I’ve never been in real heartbreak, either. I’ve felt alone, sure, but I’ve always found comfort in the freedom that comes with being alone. I don’t watch the news and I don’t think the world is ending. Call me ignorant, but in reality, I’d rather live a life of ignorant bliss than a life of attentive panic.
I hadn’t heard of the Quiet Hollers before they fatefully landed in my inbox one day. It was weeks before the release of this album, their sophomore, and self-titled effort. I listened to it for an entire day, literally, a full 9 hours at my desk. In my entire life, I don’t know if I can honestly say that I’ve listened to any single album that many times in a row. Something about it just mesmerized me. I’ve been an avid reader my entire life, and books have, if the writing is solid and honest, been able to move me to tears, but I’ve never been one to cry over music.
I don’t want to admit that I cried over this album. I really didn’t. But through “Quiet Hollers,” I am immediately drawn into characters, situations, and emotions I have never felt in my reality. Suddenly, I’ve been in love, and I’ve lost, I’ve been waiting for the world to end, I’ve seen the world end, and I’ve been a hitman stuck in traffic. It’s rare that an album can be so emotive, heartfelt, angsty, and aggressively melancholic and still be wildly relatable to a self-proclaimed optimist and “happy person” like myself.
The music itself is beautifully written, sad, but full of life, and Shadwick Wilde’s voice has this piercing narrative quality, as in, the moment noise escapes his mouth, before any semblance of a story is formed from the lyrics, you know this guy has been some places, felt some things, and has a story to tell. And as those lyrics start to form a story, you have no choice but to listen and to feel everything he gives you. And that’s a lot of things. It doesn’t get happier the longer you listen to it, it describes terrible things happening in beautiful places, and you may think it lends glimpses of hope in parts, but the next time you listen to it, you realize you were probably wrong. It’s a picture-perfect portrait of abjection, and for some reason you can’t turn away.
I had the opportunity to ask the Quiet Hollers a few questions about this album, and life in general, so on behalf of The Sundaze I present the Quiet Hollers (answered by Shadwick Wilde)!
This is the Quiet Hollers’ second album, which is self-titled. What’s the significance of waiting for the second album to brand it 100% yours?
We threw a bunch of titles out over the course of the demoing these songs. There really is no deeper reason than we just couldn’t think of anything better, but I do think it’s a great representation of the band and what we’re about.
Your first album, “I Am The Morning” is really, really sad. This second album seems only really sad. Or maybe I’d like to point out that there seems to be maybe a sliver of hope this round. What’s changed since “I Am The Morning?”
That’s funny that you say that. When Morning (2013) came out, people said that it wasn’t as “dark” or as “sad” as my first solo record (2010). Our new album has songs about the end of the world, alienating your loved ones, and killing people for a living. I Am the Morning had songs about moving up to the mountains, flying small aircraft, and finding zen in the impermanence of relationships. It just goes to show everything is subjective, I guess.
There are lots of references to France in this album. “Mont Blanc” is this sort of ominous, prophetic love song, and you reference a hitman, with his hit stuffed in the trunk of his car, in “Cote d’Azur.” Especially in “Cote d’Azur,” you describe the beautiful and peaceful scenery and imagery of these locales, what is it about these stereotypically gorgeous and cheerful places that brings you to these haunting narratives?
So “Mont Blanc” refers to the ink pen belonging to the narrator, but in my mind its setting is suburban America. With “Côte d’Azur” the idea for the song came from sitting in traffic, overlooking the ocean. Being trapped in a metal box on a cliffside highway for hours when there’s such visceral freedom just beyond your reach… it seemed so sickeningly accurate a metaphor for life and work. And I thought it would be more interesting if the guy who was stuck in his car, his life, his career, didn’t have a normal job.
You’ve been quoted saying that “Mont Blanc” is a ‘post-apocalyptic love song.’ “Flood Song” seems to carry a similar theme, but maybe on a more personal or individual level. In “Mont Blanc,” you repeat a line that goes “Shed a tear for the books I should have read.” What are these books and why is it too late for you to read them?
“Flood Song” is about a man who lives under a bridge by a river and is preparing for a deluge. He finds treasures in the river runoff and doesn’t necessarily care what happens to himself or the world. In “Mont Blanc”, the books I’m referring to are all the ones you wanted to read, or thought you should have read, but never got around to. Maybe it’s the Harry Potter series, or the Bible, or the Anarchist Cookbook. The point is everything was turned to ash by a nuclear bomb and now you’re not reading shit but the instructions on your survival knife.
I love the album artwork for “Quiet Hollers.” It seems a sort of blissful juxtaposition to the mood and feeling of the entire album. It also matches the imagery and mood of the music video for “Cote d’Azur.” Plus, everyone loves cake. Was this purely a marketing ploy to get people who really love cake (aka everyone) to listen to your album, or is there more to it?
The cake is celebratory, yes. We’re marking an intensely transformative period in all of our lives, and celebrating the fruition of a lot of effort, angst and inspiration. This album has been two years in the making, during which time we’ve buried friends, welcomed new family members, and seen this band do things we’ve never done.
The Cake as a cultural icon, to me, represents saccharine vapidity, awkward office birthday parties, a nation of obese zombies sliding down a river of corn syrup to their death. You said everyone loves cake? It kind of makes my teeth hurt.
Now I’ve been to Louisville a handful of times before. Or, I should qualify that by saying, I’ve been to the Louisville airport a handful of times, and I’ve sort of driven around (lost) a handful of times. You’ve traveled the world, yet you live and work in Kentucky, USA. What is it about Louisville that is home for you? What’s made you come back time and time again to this place?
My family is from Kentucky and the Netherlands, and I couldn’t stay in Amsterdam because I was a minor, and had no visa. The music scene in Louisville is amazing, and the lower cost of living makes it possible to do what I do, which is play in this band, study English, and be a dad.
Who do you write this music for?
Anyone who wants to listen.
And finally, what do you want everyone to know about the Quiet Hollers, and what’s coming up next for you guys? (Maybe a west coast tour!?)
I hope so! I grew up in San Francisco, but have never taken the band out west. People keep asking, so I guess we have no choice but to make it happen soon. Other than that, we’ve got some video projects on the horizon, touring the new album, and recording a new single in the next few months.