We conducted this interview with the amazing Symphonic Folk Metal band WILDERUN, from Boston MA.
I would like to thank you guys for taking your time out of your busy schedule to do this interview, we really appreciate it!
Evan: No problem at all, thanks for the opportunity!
First off, I want to congratulate you guys on the upcoming completion for your debut album, “Olden Tales & Deathly Trails”. How did you guys all come to meet each other and form Wilderun?
Evan: Thanks so much; we’re really excited to get the music out there. Wilderun has been sort of a band in the making for a while now. Over the years, I had been writing music for this project on and off in my spare time, but only recently was Wilderun fully realized. After a couple years of demos and different incarnations of the group, this particular band came together around the beginning of this year. We’ve all been friends/fellow musicians for a good while here in Boston, so forming the band felt very natural. I first came to Wayne [Ingram, lead guitar] with the proposition at the end of last year. Since Wayne is not only a great guitarist, but also a skilled orchestrator, I really wanted to collaborate with him to help get this project off the ground. When Dan [Müller, bass] and Jon [Teachey, drums] joined in, the band immediately felt complete.
What was your first exposure to folk metal and your personal opinion on how it has affected the mainstream metal scene in the U.S.?
Wayne: My very first exposure to folk metal was with a good friend of mine many years ago. We had grown up learning guitar and listening to power metal. I remember one day we were in his car, and I heard this amazing metal song with accordion and fiddle in it. It turned out to be “Sahti-Waari” by Turisas. I had never heard anything like it and had to find more. I knew about Blind Guardian and was familiar with their music, but it was Turisas’ arrangement of metal and folk instruments that captured me. I bought “Battle Metal,” then shortly after discovered Nightwish, which was the first band I found that combined incredible symphonic elements with folk instruments. I never looked back, and it quickly became my favorite genre.
I have to say that I’m not sure how folk metal affects the metal scene in America. It’s so different on each coast. I’m from Southern California, and in my hometown the only people that listened to folk metal were a couple of friends and I. It’s not very big out there. On the East coast however, it’s a big deal and there are tons of die-hard fans, probably because the European bands have an easier time getting there for shows. You’ll find way more folk metal oriented bands on the east coast.
I noticed that you guys incorporate a ton of unique instruments such as the mandolin and the hammered dulcimer. First can you tell me what inspired you guys to use the hammered dulcimer? It’s such a fascinating and unusual instrument to use!
Evan:Well, I suppose simply the fact that we had one was inspiration enough! But we just wanted to use some unique folk instruments that would not only bring a specific, new flavor to the music, but that would integrate folk instruments historically used in American history. Even though we’re certainly not a strictly “American” folk metal band, and we definitely take a lot of influence from many different countries, we really wanted to explore these sounds, just as we explored folk songs from our country on this album. Utilizing one’s own culture and musical history is one of the most exciting and interesting aspects of folk metal as a whole, and we try to embrace that, while still crafting our own sound and not being restricted by it. Not to mention, so much of what you hear from American folk tunes/instruments originated in other countries in the first place, so it’s only appropriate that our music does become sort of a melting pot of sounds and ideas.
What other instruments have you learned to play, and why did you decide to learn them? I don’t know many people in the US who would say, “You know, I want to start playing the autoharp!”
Dan: Well I grew up in a German family so from a very young age I was exposed to German and Bavarian folk music. I’ve played instruments like the autoharp, the hammered dulcimer, and various other folk instruments around the house for as long as I can remember. But it was only since I was a teenager that I got into folk metal and had a desire to learn these instruments. It was kind of inevitable!
Your first big gig was at Paganfest in March of 2012 alongside Turisas, Arkona, and Alestorm. What did you have to do to land such a big festival as your very first show? With such big names in folk metal, were you guys at all worried or nervous of how the crowd would respond to you guys?
Evan: That show was a great time. We were naturally all a bit nervous, having never played the material live before, but I think our general excitement overruled any other feelings once we were on stage. The crowd really seemed to dig our performance. Considering all the well-known folk metal acts playing that night, we were really playing for the right crowd. They responded to it pretty quickly, and I think we made a good deal of fans by the end of it. Hopefully there will be more shows like that in the future!
You guys are based in Boston, Massachusetts, describe to me what it was like growing up as a kid and what music you were into and what you teenage to early adulthood was like?
Dan: My childhood was relatively normal. I hung around with friends and family, played video games, and travelled with my family a lot. My parents had me take piano lessons when I was six years old and when I turned 14, I got into playing bass and kind of stuck with that for a while. It’s actually not until more recently that I’ve been picking up the piano again. I like to think that it keeps me well rounded as a musician.
Your debut album was released on September 21. What song would you guys say you had the most fun writing?
Evan: Each song was a pretty unique writing experiment for me, but if I had to choose one, I’d probably say “The Dying Californian”. Working in the traditional melody and lyrics into my own material was a really gratifying, albeit challenging, task, and I think I felt most accomplished after that one was completed. Although, some of those riffs in “Vaunting Veins” were damn fun to write.
Wayne: Since Evan already wrote most of the songs when he and I started working together, it was basically my job to compose all of the symphonic elements and arrange them along with the folk parts. For me, “Suncatcher” was the most fun to write. Not only did I get to write a huge orchestration, which is my favorite thing, but also it’s a great song because of its melodies and variations on themes. The best part about orchestrating is how you get to use the same ideas but in different parts of the orchestra to create a variety of moods and colors. “Suncatcher” has the most of that in there, and so it was really rewarding to work on.
In the spirit of drinking and partying, what was your craziest drunken experience?
Evan: Well, a good buddy of mine once ripped the divider between urinals in the bathroom clean off the wall. I think that’s up there.
What do you guys do in your spare time when you’re not writing music?
Dan: I really enjoy playing video games whenever I get the chance. It really takes me out of my daily life and lets me escape for a while. I also love brewing beer. I’ve been doing it for a couple years now and it’s a really rewarding process (especially when the rewards are delicious!). Aside from that, just spending time with my lady and hanging out with friends.
What is a random fun fact about each of you?
Dan: The band that actually got me interested in playing bass in the first place was “Weird Al” Yankovic. I actually wanted to play upright polka bass but was handed an electric bass by the music store I was taking lessons at and everything just sort of fell into place.
Evan: I have a map of Middle-earth on the wall in front of my toilet.
Wayne: Get me two glasses of Delirium Tremens and I am amazing at pool.
If there were three bands that you would hope to tour with, what bands would they be?
Wayne: There is this amazing, newer band from Australia called Troldhaugen, who kind of sound like a metal version of “Banjo-Kazooie”. I would love to play a show with them. Finntroll is next on my list cause their music is so fun and memorable. However, it would be a dream come true to tour with Dimmu Borgir. The way they blend orchestral elements with metal was a big influence on how I went about writing all of the symphonic parts for this album. Plus, maybe we could use their orchestra and have our stuff played live!
If there was one place you would love to travel, where would it be and why?
Dan: Definitely New Zealand. Ever since I saw “Lord of the Rings” I knew that’s where I had to be. There’s just so much wondrous, vast open space. And mountains. I live for mountains.
Evan: I think I just want to hug a panda.
Wrapping up, what are your future plans for the band?
Evan: Right now, we’re just trying to get the album heard by as many people as we can. There are really no specific plans beyond that, but we really want to play more shows soon, and hopefully do some sort of tour in the near future. And of course, there will eventually be even more music to come.
Is there anything that you guys want to say to your fans, any exclusive information you’d like to share?
Evan: The response so far, even in only the few days following our album release, has been phenomenal. Thanks to everyone who’s grabbed a copy of the album, or simply listened to it. Wherever you are, we really hope to come play for you soon!
Wilderun’s debut album Olden Tales & Deathly Trails is currently for sale at www.wilderun.bandcamp.com, where both physical copies and digital downloads are available. Thank you so much for taking your time out of your schedule to do this interview!