Wildhoney, “Seventeen”

JP Basileo

Nothing could better compliment the ethereal flare of Wildhoney’s sound, than the 1970’s B-movie fascination with UFOs and spacemen. The Baltimore five-piece recognize this with their new video for “Seventeen”, an acting ode to old wonder and a perfect accessory to the already otherworldly song from their debut LP Sleep Through It. In what appears to be all footage appropriated from an old sci-fi flick, a white retro car heads down a lonesome road among a wooded backdrop, the timing of the music delayed four seconds or so. The track opens with shaky, reverbed guitar strumming in a lullabied slow-chug, until acute and energetic drums start and thump life into the scene. A full blare of distortion and bass kick in, like a bottle rocket’s fuse being lit, to envelop the gorgeous choral lead hook that sends the song shooting to the heavens. The quiet highs of singer Lauren Shusterich’s voice frolics within the landscape created by the guitars, and enhance the so appropriately-timed extraterrestrial imagery throughout the rest of the video.

The car’s driver is forced to stop by the side of the road, blinded by the glow of a floating saucer. From here, a series of ambiguous images flicker in alternating rhythms and dissolve on the screen; from flowers blossoming in almost grotesque rapidity; to a black-hole (white-hole?) glimmering against black space; to a robotically stern-looking, aviator-donning man, going in and out of different colored negatives. Both video and song play like witnessing an alien abduction or inhabitation, the author’s take on it being not something to be feared, but something by which to be awe-struck. The strange scenes continue until the video’s end, with the inclusion of a three-pronged emblem—a curious symbol whose meaning is unknown to humans—and playful animated swirls, almost calling to mind the early stop-motion shorts of David Lynch, only adding to the general weird aura of the video.

We caught up with Wildhoney, who have already announced new EP is planned for this summer on Top Shelf Records, via e-mail to ask them a few questions about their songwriting and the general concept behind the new video. You can watch the video for “Seveneteen” above, and read on for our conversation and upcoming tour dates.

In general, how would you describe the process of writing music as a band?

I would describe the process as very “fun”.

But in all seriousness, each song starts out as a chord progression on an acoustic guitar in a lonely man’s bedroom. We get to all the effects pedals later.

Did you all know each other prior to playing music together?

Marybeth, Zach, and Joe lived together in Baltimore’s famous “The Pop House” while Alan and Lauren worked at the same bar.

How do you feel your sound has progressed over the course of your EPs, culminating in Sleep Through It?

Sleep Through It is the culmination of the first two years of being a band and developing our aesthetic. It would be obvious to point out that there are slower and cleaner songs on the LP than on the EP’s but that doesn’t necessarily mark a direction we are heading in. The EP we are working on now is very uptempo and noisy.

What kind of ideas are you exploring through your music?

Despite writing mostly major scale pop songs, we tend to write songs expressing our personal struggles. Such themes as anxiety, depression, alienation, and frustration come to mind.

What are your thoughts on the Baltimore music scene? How does Wildhoney fit in?

Baltimore is a fertile place for creative people. We are one of a number of guitar pop bands that have sprung up in the past few years. The rent here is cheap and it’s not hard to find places to practice and play shows. While we look up to some of the older bands that have gone places from here, we consider our generational peers to be such bands as Boy Spit, Romantic States, and Expert Alterations.

What was your approach to making the video for “Seventeen?” How’d you land on the footage you used?

Marybeth’s girlfriend/our friend Dulcey Lewis had been creating projections for both us and Little Rib (MB’s solo project) and offered to do a music video for us. She compiled archival footage of alien abductions and safety informational films and edited them into a cohesive music video.

Wildhoney is currently on tour with Whirr. A full list of tour dates is below.

April
12 Richmond, VA at Strange Matter
13 Charlotte, NC at Neighborhood Theatre
14 Atlanta, GA at The Drunken Unicorn
15 Nashville, TN at Cafe Coco
16 Memphis, TN at Hi Tone

May
01 Baltimore, MD at The 5th Dimension (with Bummed, Natural Velvet, The Holy Circle, Alone Time)
28 NYC at Cake Shop (NYC POPFEST)

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