David Wimbish: Life, Death, Fundraising, & Festivals

July 23, 2013

At the 2012 Wild Goose, for an afternoon set at a tent tucked away on the backwoods of the festival site, a young North Carolina band blew minds and won fans. More than just a band, more like a multicolored movement of sonic jubilee, David Wimbish and the Collection carry the celebratory consciousness, lyrical significance, and live energy that have made bands like Mumford & Sons or Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros the darlings of the current folk-pop moment.

In August 2013, the Collection will open this year’s festival on the main stage with a Thursday night-set sure to thrill us. Then, they will support Phil Madeira’s Friday night set. In the meantime, the Collection are furiously raising funds on Kickstarter for their next album, a surprisingly hopeful take on death called Ares Moriendi. I recently caught up with David Wimbish and convinced him to take a break from writing, recording, fundraising, and preparing for Wild Goose to answer a few questions.

Q. What is special about playing a festival? What makes WGF special among special?

A. Festivals are places people are willing to get dirty, stinky, messy, and crazy together to a degree they normally wouldn’t otherwise—just for the sake of connection, whether it be a connection through music, spirituality, art, or just fun. Everyone is out of their element at the same time, which makes everyone in the same element—the element of each other. So playing festivals lets people focus solely on connecting with each other; we get to talk and hang and laugh and have fun with people in a way, without the normal distractions a city or jobs or phones have. Wild Goose Festival especially is a ton of fun because there are people searching and listening, a very diverse culture and very diverse belief systems. Last year’s Wild Goose was one of the best musical and relational experiences we’ve ever had as a band, and it’s really a gift to get to be here again this year.

Q. Why do we need to get there early for the opening set of WGF 2013?

A. We’ve got some fun surprises for this year. No spoilers yet, but the fest is about community, about connecting, about new and old ideas coming together, about seeking and experiencing, and we want to kick of the festival doing just that. Our band always has at least a few people rotating in and out; I think every show there’s at least one new person playing with us, and it gives us a new energy to see the dynamics change in this. This year will be some new faces, some new instruments, and new energy.

Q. What will be the mix in the set from your first album, your second album, your forthcoming album?


A. We’re at that awkward stage where we know it’ll still be a bit till the new album is out, yet, we want to share the songs. I’m sure there’ll be a couple of new ones, whichever ones we’re feeling the most, but we’ll be playing a lot of our favorites from previous releases. We’ve been pumped to be playing “Lazarus” a lot lately, so I’m sure you’ll at least hear that. We like to play things loosely until close to a show, so that we can feel the vibe from the folks there and do a set that feels right for the environment and band family. The way sets usually come together is a bit like a puzzle. I go to the closet, we look and pull them out together beforehand and say “I want to do this one, I like this picture”. We spread out all the pieces on the table, and we get little sections of it together, we start to see what it’ll look like, and then, after awhile of moving things around, we put it completely together for others to see as a picture. So we have elements together, songs and special things we definitely we definitely have planned for wild goose, now it’s a matter of finding the in between pieces and making it look like a picture. That being said, sometimes the pieces you think go in a certain spot were wrong, and you switch them out for others. So, don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but we’ll play some new, and some old, and have some good celebration shoes. Bring your dancin’ shoes!

Q. Everyone has a Kickstarter anymore—why should we support yours?

A. Kickstarter, unfortunately, has seen quite a bit of abuse in the last year, from super rich actors using it to raise money for a film, to someone’s younger brother trying to raise 10000 for new socks. When I FIRST heard of Kickstarter, I was excited, because it basically runs the way our band runs. Instead of charging set rates for albums and concerts, we like to let folks experience the music and then decide if they want to give or not, and how much they want or can give. Kickstarter, in some ways, does this in a little backwards way: it allows people to say “Hey, I support this, and I’ll be a part of it happening. I’ll be a part of this startup, or album, or project, whatever.”

Specifically with ours, we have our good friend Luke creating a documentary of the album process. Luke is an incredible filmmaker, and seeing that documentary happen just to see Luke’s work I think would be worth it. On top of that, with the money, we want to get big string and brass ensembles, a big group of extra musicians with crazy instruments, record in incredible sounding locations across the south, and get the thing professionally mastered and publicized, all to hopefully get to people the best musical and visual experience possible. Without reaching our Kickstarter goal, most of those things won’t be able to happen with the new album. We also have tons of gifts for donations that are a lot of fun, including a lot of original artwork and things for ya!

Q. Explain the concepts behind the new album. What’s with the facepaint? Are you in part by the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition? Is that the vibe you are going for? Why?

A. I’ve been writing some of these songs for a few years, and started seeing themes of death in them; death to myself, death of beliefs or habits, and actual physical death. My good friend killed himself a few months ago: it was so random and crazy, and several people in the band knew him. I realized, when it happened, I’ve never worked through or questioned death that much. It’s felt far away, and this time it slammed me in the face.

So what happens afterwards? I hope it’s resurrection, in the physical and spiritual sense. At least in life, when I die to myself or things that have previously been myself, I resurrect into something new. But the crazy thing is, it’s a mystery. Every religion thinks it knows; everyone has experiences they think makes them sure, but none of us know what happens. We live with it hanging over our heads, this great mystery. Mystery is so beautiful though! But really, I needed a place to work through my friends suicide, and my grandpa dying of a brain tumor, and these songs starting coming.

And I realized, though all cultures have a time of mourning, the American culture seems to be one of the biggest ones that stops at mourning. So I was finding out more about the Mexican holiday, the Day of the Dead. There’s something beautiful about celebrating the deceased’s life instead of just mourning. They paint these Skulls, and it’s awesome, it takes something that we normally think of as morbid and sad, and it makes it beautiful again.

I need that to happen with my grandpa. I need that to happen with my friend. I need that to happen for myself! So, that’s what’s with the Sugar Skull facepaint, and what you’ll see with the art and themes that will be coming up in the new album, trying to take dead things and figure out what it means for them to be alive again. Hopefully, we can connect through death, and bring each other to life!

The paint is inspired by the Day of the Dead tradition. It is similar to the paint that is on the sugar skulls for the tradition and really represents both a recognition of death and a celebration of life and redemption at the same time. We want to communicate both those things simultaneously instead of separately as our culture normally does.

Interview by Andrew William Smith, Editor
Check out: http://thecollection.bandcamp.com/


Latin Sensation Marre Humbly Pleases

October 1, 2010

When Latin pop sensation Marre walked off the stage last week in Bogota, Colombia you would have thought she was walking out of a routine stop at a Starbucks Coffeehouse. [Read more]

Variety Is the Spice of Life – Your Editors Weigh in on 2007’s Best Music

December 29, 2007

By Andy Smith and Kimberly Egolf, Editors

Ah, 2007. How quickly you came and went. And how much good music you managed to deliver along the way. In the wide world, 2007 saw bands and companies employing new means to deliver music, while ways to listen to that music practically overwhelmed the marketplace. 2007 saw reunions by some of music’s biggest artists (Do we deserve Zeppelin and Verve in the same year?!) and reissues of many classic albums we’ve loved. Podcasts exposed us to an increasing number of new artists, many of whom hit the ground running with some of the year’s best discs. Yet established artists held their own and proved again why they are artists we respect and love. [Read more]

Interview: Paul Meany of Mute Math Talks Spirituality, the Keytar and Atari

November 20, 2006

By Kevin Selders

Fresh off a 40-city headlining tour with Shiny Toy Guns, Jonezetta and The Whigs, Paul Meany, lead singer/keytar player/magician of the alt-rock band Mute Math, took time to share with Interference where he found the band’s hyper drummer, how the keytar has always been cool and details about the mysterious home-made instrument, the Atari.

Mute Math, a four-piece from New Orleans, also features Greg Hill (guitars), Roy Mitchell-Cardenas (bass) and Darren King (drums/samples/programming). The band’s sound includes hints of everything from DJ Shadow and Bjork to U2 and The Police. The band recently played Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, the Warped Tour, England’s V Festival and the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City.

Mute Math’s self-titled debut is available on Warner Bros. The band will play Jimmy Kimmel Live Dec. 1. on ABC, tour with “How to Save a Life” hit makers The Fray through January, and visit Europe in February.

So, tell us, how was the CMJ Music Festival? What was the experience like for you guys?
There’s nothing more addicting for our band than playing shows in New York. I actually forgot that it was CMJ. We were in Times Square at BB Kings. It was splendid.

Your shows are so energetic – how do you keep the energy level up every night, as well as the spontaneity?
How do you get bulls to buck at a rodeo? And you should know it works on humans too.

Some of you have even suffered a few injuries during the tour because of your live show. Darren’s hand was all bloody toward the end of the show in Lawrence, Kan., yet he still managed to play the beat-heavy “Reset” with one hand. Explain how this is humanly possible.
It’s not. Darren was genetically engineered in an underground lab just outside of a small Siberian town called Fruscher. I found him on eBay.

How did the idea of MuteMath form? I know some of you were together in Earthsuit, which was very different sonically.
Well as soon as Darren arrived in the mail, we got to work. We wrote some songs, played some shows, found some more musicians, and before we knew it we had a band. I think in the beginning, Mute Math was just a side project for us, as we were spending more of our time trying to launch another band called Macrosick.

Some of your lyrics seem to have a spiritual side to them, Paul. It seems like a lot of bands – i.e. U2, Moby, Doves, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – are drawn to exploring that aspect of life, lyrically. Where does your inspiration come from for your lyrics?
I grew up in a very strict religious home. Had the do’s and don’ts of the Bible drilled into my head. I think, the older I got, the more suspicious I became of what all of that stuff was about, but was still strangely drawn to it. I have to assume everyone at some point in their life has had some tie in with religion whether they’ve embraced it or not. I think it’s a valid subject matter that intrigues us all on some level. As much bullshit that inherently gets attached to that topic, it’s still a part of me somehow, and when I sit down to write songs those ideas inevitably surface.

Musically, who are you influenced by as a band? There’s definitely a hint of the Police on songs like “Chaos,” and “Noticed.”
Well it’s no secret that we love the Police. They are in my opinion one of the classic bands who could write simple great songs and take it to new heights live. Other artists like Jimi Hendrix, The Who, U2, etc., all have written the text book on how to construct a complete musical experience.

Many people – fans and critics – are touting Mute Math as the “next big thing.” What’s it like hearing that, even before your debut album hit stores?
I think that phrase is way overused and doesn’t really mean anything anymore. I’m more concerned with just etching out a little nook in the music world where Mute Math can live and make music for a long time.

Your life on the road has been well-documented in your MySpace videos/iTunes podcast. You even rotate photos you receive from fans quite regularly on your site (many of which are quite good). How important is technology to the development of the Mute Math community you’ve created?
Actually, we owe a lot to electricity if you want to break it down. Forget about Tom [founder of MySpace] . . . what about Thomas Edison and Benji Franklin?

How was “Plan B” selected as the first single? There’s so many possible first singles on this album.
We didn’t select Plan B as the single, iTunes did. From the way I understand it, iTunes picks their favorite song, and you either go with it or you don’t get a single of the week. I like Plan B. It probably won’t end up as one of the officially released singles though.

You each play multiple instruments during your shows. Who plays the most instruments?
Out of necessity – Darren [King]
Effortlessly – Roy [Mitchell-Cardenas]
While wearing other instruments – Greg [Hill]
The wrong way – Me

Explain the keytar. How did you make it cool again? (If it ever was.)
I didn’t make it “cool again” . . . I just simply recognized an already existing phenomenon. I can’t take credit for the beauty in the flowers and trees just because I opened my eyes to see it.

Now explain the Atari.
I want you to imagine for a moment, if you will, a world where Atari games walk the streets of a red light district pimped by Radio Shack. The noises, the smells, the sights . . . That’s the Atari.

Your latest tour with The Whigs and Jonezetta winds up Nov. 19 at the Culture Room in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. What’s Mute Math’s next step toward world domination?
Getting our hands on a nuclear bomb.

For more information on Mute Math’s self-titled debut album and headlining tour, visit its official website or MySpace page.

Interview: Canadian Band WHY, Supporters of Make Poverty History and (RED)*

September 11, 2006

By Devlin Smith, Contributing Editor

(RED), a collaboration of various companies in support of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, recently launched a MySpace page. One of the organization’s friends is the Canadian band WHY, a group that’s been around for more than 10 years.

WHY (Brian Cook on vocals, Derek James on drums, Stephan Makarewicz on guitar and Greg Barre on bass) has supported causes like Make Poverty History and The Global Fund since its inception. In fact, George Stroumboulopoulos of the CBC News "The Hour" interviewed Cook about issues relating to HIV/AIDS and poverty on World AIDS Day 2005. This year, the band is supporting (RED) with the release of an album and single named for the organization.

Interference.com e-mailed the band about its history and connection to (RED), learning from lead singer Cook about how WHY integrated its belief in these causes into its music.

How long as WHY been together?

WHY has been around since 1993. We released four CDs, "The Naked Soul," "Suddenly Bang," "The Rise and Fall of the Question Mark" and, most recently, "Lazarus Effect," which is a CD to help make people aware of Make Poverty History and raise some funds for the MPH campaign. We are currently in the studio recording our next full length album "RED," due out this fall. The title track has been released to radio and we have a free download of the song on our website. We encourage anyone who wants to burn it and take copies to your local radio station and ask for airplay. This has been a great way to infect people around the world with our music.

Where did the band’s name come from?

I was watching a TV special on John Lennon around 1992 and there was a part filmed the day he died and fans were all around his and Yoko’s New York apartment with candles and signs and one sign just said "WHY." No question mark, just three capital letters, and I thought, "That’s the most used word in our troubled world." Henry Thoreau said, "Why is the beginning of knowledge," so it seemed right for a band with so many questions. We still do, by the way.

How would you describe your music?

I wouldn’t, I’d leave that up to you and anyone who listens to it. I find people take our songs as their own, which is very flattering and humbling. They tell us what we sound like to them. So I suppose I could say, "WHY: Whatever the music makes you feel." We get very passionate comments about how, "This certain song really got me through a rough spot" type of thing. That is the best thing to hear as a musician or artist of any medium for that matter.

Who are your musical influences?

U2 have left a stain on us, as have The Alarm, Bob Dylan, The Clash, REM, whatever we heard growing up. I wasn’t ever inclined to sing as a kid., it wasn’t until later I felt like I could express myself emotionally and, moreover, spiritually through music, rock ‘n’ roll.

It’s funny we get a lot of, ‘You sound like U2′ or "You sound like Bono," which is very flattering but I really am trying to be my own person, have my sound, create a new thing and I, in the past, used to get very frustrated with the Bono comparison so I would deliberately sing in a way that wasn’t my range or even try new styles, [like] sing rougher or softer. The more I tried to not sound like Bono, [the more] I’d get, "Hey, you really sound like Bono on that song," so I realized that I sing this way because that’s my voice and no point fighting it, just so happens I sound a bit like the greatest rock singer of all time. Not a bad thing, by the way, people could say I sound like [comedian] Emo Phillips when I sing.

How did your band become interested in the Make Poverty History and (RED) causes?

Well, the whole band is passionate about the destruction of stupid poverty. Speaking for myself, I was very involved with [Christian relief organization] World Vision through child sponsorship, (I still sponsor two children, really a great way to do something to help), and the [international youth hunger-fighting movement] 30 Hour Famine from the late ’80s through the ’90s. I used to go to schools as a rep for World Vision and speak and show films and get kids involved. Kids really believe, if you tell them, that their voice, their actions, their passion can change the world—and they’re right.

We as a band recently decided that from now until we end as a band, we will give a dollar from every WHY CD that is ever made to fighting extreme poverty, for now The Global Fund is who we will send cash to. Our next album "Red" will be used to draw attention to The Global Fund and raise money for them. "Lazarus Effect" is available online [and] we are giving a portion of the money from sales to Make Poverty History. In Canada, MPH is badly under-funded so we want to add our two cents.

I was fortunate to be able to produce a compilation CD for The Global Fund with some great Canadian bands like Our Lady Peace, 54-40, Finger 11, The Trews and unsigned local bands who believed in putting their music where their mouth is. It was called "Rock for a Reason: Artists United for African AIDS Relief." We only printed a couple thousand and it sold well. It raised $15,000.00 for The Global Fund and I got to interview Richard Feachem [executive director of The Global Fund] on a local alt rock radio station.

[Feachem] is on my short list of people to meet and talk face to face. [Also] on that list [are] Prof. [Jeffrey] Sachs, Sir Bob Geldof, Bono, although he and I met in Winnipeg back in 1997, along with Edge and Adam. I would really like to pick those brains on what we in the grassroots movement can do to make poverty history. WHY isn’t a big name band with clout, so our ranting about this issue isn’t as affective as, say, Bono, Brad Pitt and so on, but maybe one day we will be able to be a large pain in the ass of our PM here [Stephen Harper] in Canada or, for that matter, a global pain.

Why did you decide to write a song and name your album for "Red"?

That’s the magic of music, at least for me, as I don’t sit down with a plan, the music is constructed beyond us, it just pours through us. Red just seemed like a great color to touch on as it has so many different applications, for example, red can be a color for anger or passion or danger, sacrifice, heat, joy.

When it was done I was made aware of the (RED) campaign, so we offered it to (RED). No response as of yet, but they can use it for free. We plan on using it to promote (RED) and The Global Fund either way, they are getting the money no matter what. It really fits the campaign, though, doesn’t it? We were surprised how well it works. I guess a little help from the Divine Mover.

What kind of reaction has the song "Red" gotten from fans?

Very positive, people have had a very strong reaction to "Red." People have been downloading for free from us and have been put it on their iPods and, as one woman in Australia said in an e-mail to us, "I can’t stop listening to ‘Red,’ I listen to over and over." That is such a great thing to hear.

Have you gotten the song to people with (RED)? If you have, what reaction have you gotten from them?

We have been in contact with Sheila Roche at (RED) and she has it, but so far they haven’t got back to us. They are busy trying to save lives, mind you, so we are I’m sure [we're] at the bottom of their to-do list. I really hope they like it and use it as we have told them we want to give it to them free of charge if they can to use it.

What are you hoping to accomplish with the song "Red"?

Move people, inspire them. Look, if they just dig the tune and enjoy driving and listening to it, great, but if it can get people thinking passionately about (RED) or MPH and what they can do to help, even better. That’s all we can ask of a rock song, a single, as it were. Hey, it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, or is it?

You also have a song called "Lazarus Effect" about the AIDS crisis. What inspired this song?

The actual medical term "Lazarus Effect," which is what happens when AIDS meds are given to a dying person at death’s door due to HIV/AIDS—literally from death bed to up and walking around, working, feeding your family in a month. Back from the dead, a miracle like Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I found the two images too powerful not to write about them.

Your band gave out copies of the new album at U2′s Canadian shows last year. Where did that idea come from? What kind of reaction did you got from U2 fans?

Well, first off, not our idea. It was a mad U2 fan from Ottawa who was a MPH volunteer who heard our songs on our website and, when "Lazarus Effect" came out, decided to order a bunch of CDs online and give them out. He also got us involved in a poverty symposium in Ottawa. He couldn’t work out a way to get us out to play there, sadly, but had us do a video feed and we were off and running.

As for U2 fans response, mostly great, supportive, very kind. I think some were leery of us, and understandably so. They didn’t know our history with the campaign, as far as they knew we could be using extreme poverty as a way to break the band. But actually we had lost money, not made money so far. We are lifers for this war on extreme stupid poverty. "Keep My Peace" is a song I wrote about this issue back 2000, it sums up our feelings on this front.

I have to say U2 fans are not like any other fans; they really are a community, a family, and if WHY can get people moved and united as U2 has, we will see that as our greatest success. I have met so many bands obsessed with "making it" or what they mean is, "When we’re famous men, then we will blah, blah, blah," that’s the top for them, the pinnacle, the goal. Fame isn’t our goal. Yes, it’s a platform to be heard, a springboard, but it’s not the Promised Land. Our goal is to do music full time and use fame as a tool to continue to push the envelope in songwriting. It’s a tool to use to swing the spotlight off of us and onto our family in Africa, Asia, and the developing world who are dying every three seconds for a lack of what we call pocket change, coffee money. And, yes, I call these people around the world "our family" because we are all connected. If a distant relative is ill or in need you still step up and help. Well, they are our sisters and our brothers as I sing in "Lazarus Effect."

Your band has a MySpace page. What kind of impact is that site having on your band and its mission?

Yes, we have recently taken over a WHY fan MySpace site and it has been almost frightening how fast the world has come to us. It is a wonderful thing. I know some have had issues with MySpace but it has been a great networking tool and MySpace is a big supporter of (RED).

As for "our mission," as you put it, our mission is to keep writing honest songs, no matter how uncomfortable or naked we feel. WHY is a band that has come from the grassroots of this issue (extreme poverty), we are like everyone else who saw the need and said, "I will not keep my peace, cannot keep my peace while this continues." This is a global mission; this is our fight.

Do you believe music can help change the world?

Music can inspire people to change the world. I hope that is the case with our songs. Let’s be real here, people, everyday people, change the world, not movie stars or rock stars or world leaders, regular people have and will change our world.

For more information on WHY, visit the band’s website or MySpace page. More information on (RED) can be found on its website or MySpace page. More information on The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria can be found on its website. More information on Make Poverty History can be found on its website. More information on World Vision can be found on its website. More information on 30 Hour Famine can be found on its website.

Many thanks to John McAuley and Brian Cook for their help with this article.

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