Where the Wild Things Are: A Conversation With Wild Nothing

by | Oct 26, 2009 | MUSIC

Wild Nothing is a one man music project by Blacksburg, VA songwriter Jack Tatum that has recently caught the attention of a lot of popular indie outlets for his lush shoegaze/dream-pop melodies and impressionistic vocals.

Wild Nothing is a one man music project by Blacksburg, VA songwriter Jack Tatum that has recently caught the attention of a lot of popular indie outlets for his lush shoegaze/dream-pop melodies and impressionistic vocals. Formally known as Jack and The Whale, Tatum has recently been signed to the Brooklyn-based label Captured Tracks and plans to release various 7”s throughout the last quarter of 2009 with an LP to come around April of next year. Tatum also writes songs for a side project called Facepaint, which plays lo-fi garage rock and tours across Virginia.

I recently had a chance to speak to Tatum about what it feels like to go from self-produced to an official label, his mindsets on both music projects, and rumors on a future European tour.

Alexander Chang: So first off, Congratulations on getting signed by the Brooklyn based Captured Tracks label. How’s does it feel to be on a bigger label with growing bands like Woods and Thee Oh Sees? Does it feel any different?

Jack: Thank you. It does feel a bit different, but it hasn’t changed much. I’m still getting to make the music that I want to make, only now I have an established support system pushing me forward and opening me to a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten. Once I have an album out and start playing shows, that’s when it will be different. It will feel more real for sure.

Just for fun, have you listened to the new Woods and Thee Oh Sees albums? What’d you think?

Jack: I actually haven’t listened to Thee Oh Sees much honestly, but Woods are great. Particularly the recent Sunlit 7” with “The Dark”. That’s a great song.

I heard that you stopped working on Jack and the Whale? What happened? Did it break up?

Jack: I wouldn’t call it breaking up because it was just me then and it’s still just me now. It just felt like time for a change and I started making songs in a different style. I guess it was my way of trying to grow up. I wrote all those Jack and The Whale songs when I was about 18 and 19. I love them but they are like my “teenage” songs. I wanted something new.

Your side project Facepaint sounds dynamically different from your solo work on Wild Nothing, what kind of mindset do you go in with each project?

Jack: I write songs for both projects but it’s so different. I spend far less time on the Facepaint songs because they come together in a practice setting with my band mates Jeff Haley and Max Brooks. Wild Nothing songs are written while recording and they are tampered with quite a bit stylistically. I am very stubborn about how they should sound. But Facepaint is a house show band, you know? The songs are meant to be fun and messy, and I certainly hope that people don’t take them super seriously.

I heard you have a European tour coming up soon. Can you tell me when that’s going to go on and how it came to be?

Jack: Ha, rumors already? There has been some talk with The Glass Agency, which is a European booking agency. There is a good chance it is something that will happen eventually. But no, there aren’t any plans yet or anything. If it ever happens I will probably throw up from excitement though. I’ve never been out of the country.

Wild Nothing feels very shoegaze and almost dreamlike and a lot of your song seem to have lingering sentiment like “Drifter” and “Cloudbusting.” I guess can you tell me what your overall theme or concentration is with your music?

Jack: “Cloudbusting” is actually a Kate Bush cover, but yeah I see what you are saying. It’s definitely an intentional thing. The whole project started because I was feeling a very strong connection to older shoegaze, dream-pop, and 80’s UK bands. There is something about that era and those genres that are very beautiful and captivating. I connected to it on a stylistic level, the way the songs blend and float around. They are very nostalgic and it fits my personality so well. The songs I make are more or less innocent and they pull heavily from those influences.

Lastly, describe your connection to Richmond and how do you feel when playing here?

Jack: I grew up in Williamsburg so I’ve always been close to Richmond. Half of my friends from home went to VCU and I’ve met so many other people there in the past few years. Richmond’s great, but I’ve really only played there twice maybe? I visit all the time though. It’s always funny coming to Richmond because I live in Blacksburg now where you are either a football fanatic or a calm hippie type. I always get myself into trouble in Richmond.

There will be a 7” with “Summer Holiday” and “Vultures Like Lovers” out October 28th on Captured Tracks, another 7” with “Summer Holiday” and “Cloudbusting” out in the UK on Sonic Cathedral in December. Then there will be an LP out around April on Captured Tracks.

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.




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