Some bands try too hard to create synergy, to harmonize their vocals and find a groove.
Like the name suggests, the band's sound is a bit chaotic. Jared Nelson Smith's guitar occasionally races off toward Lynyrd Skynyrd Americana, while drummer Bradley David Parsons holds down a slamming beat, creating a musical diversity that can be as unkempt—and beautiful—as wilderness itself. And, it is also that slightly un-conventional and tough-to-categorize (rock and roll? noise-pop? alt-country?) that sets the Bend four-piece band apart.
"It's not jazz," says Parsons, explaining the push-and-pull of the musicians' different styles, "but there is a yin and yang."
We're talking at Crow's Feet Commons, where Smith day-jobs as the event manager. He jumps into the conversation and explains that into each of their songs, they always structure some space where Parsons, a self-described thrash drummer, can "go ape shit."
Wilderness released its first album nearly two years ago, and on Wednesday, April 29, the band plays a local show at McMenamin's Old St. Francis School, where they will be pre-promoting their sophomore album. The show kicks off an IndieGoGo campaign to help fund the upcoming album, and they promise to incorporate some of their new songs into the set that night.
"I think that it will be very different, definitively not a cut-and-paste of the last album," says Parsons about this next album. "But," he adds, "still the Wilderness sound."
The underpinnings for a new sound are understandable. In 2012, when Wilderness produced its first album, Smith had recently arrived in Bend with his wife, Nora, who sings and plays keyboards in the band. At the time, they were fleeing Los Angeles, and looking for a place to settle. Smith had a successful career there as a musician, playing with Ry Cooder and opening for the likes of the Foo Fighters, brushing with fame but never quite grabbing the brass ring of rock-and-roll stardom.
Most of the songs on the first album were autobiographical. The other musicians—Parsons as a drummer and Nick Graham as the bass player—were brought in after the songs were largely written, and joined the band for the recording.
"A Craig's List success story," quips Parsons.
But the new sound draws out more from each member, and plays off each others' backgrounds and musical disciplines.
"Controlled chaos," says Smith.
"A Venn diagram," adds Parson.
Wilderness plans to record the album in May and, in August kick off a tour that will follow a northern route all the way back to Smith's home town in Upper Peninsula, Michigan.
7 pm, Wednesday, April 29
McMenamins Old St. Francis School, 700 NW Bond St.