The New Hampshire quartet is built from the sort of unspoken understanding that fuels the strongest career bands: each player has an inherent knowledge of their musical role in the unit, fostered by well-honed listening skills and the near-spiritual connection necessary to anticipate one another’s next move. It’s the kind of telepathic communication that usually develops deeper into a band’s catalogue, but it’s evident in spades on “Adult Nights,” Wild Light’s Rob Schnapf-produced debut for Columbia’s StarTime International imprint.
Surely the musical chemistry’s got something to do with the band members’ extensive, intertwined history. Born of time-tested relationships as sturdy as the iridescent pop songs they create, the Wild Light story begins over fifteen years ago when guitarist Jordan Alexander and multi-instrumentalist Timothy Kyle – friends since elementary school – began cobbling together homemade albums onto cassette. Multi-instrumentalist Seth Pitman was soon at their side, and before long, the three had formed a high school band with drummer Seth Kasper. When Alexander found himself at Phillips Exeter Academy rooming with future Arcade Fire mastermind Win Butler, important alliances were cemented. Kyle met Butler and the pair proceeded to assemble an early incarnation of Arcade Fire including Josh Deu, whose art graces the cover of “Adult Nights.” Within a year, Kyle left amicably and by spring 2005 he’d reunited with his old school chums; Wild Light began to glow.
That Alexander, Kyle, Pitman, and Kasper rely on the insular quality of their shimmering pop to stave off the cold is at the core of “Adult Nights,” which was mostly written in white-out conditions. But the disc was recorded in sun-drenched California, resulting in a distinctly wintery feel that’s tempered by a tuneful thaw. In the end it’s clear that weather isn’t the only demon keeping these four childhood friends huddled together: Now in the post adolescent grey area, the men of Wild Light are faced with an emotional crossroads.
“Just because you’re considered an adult doesn’t mean the problems you were dealing with as a kid automatically vanish,” explains Jordan Alexander who trades vocal duties with Kyle and Pitman. “We’ve realized that the only way to resolve some of these old feelings is to work harder and delve deeper.”
While the Granite State may be responsible for the disc’s striking, cinematic images of familiar childhood haunts and blustery country roads, New Hampshire isn’t exactly synonymous with rock and roll. But as multi-instrumentalist Timothy Kyle sees it, the band would much rather remain true to its real home than pawn itself off as being from nearby Boston.
“We’re completely comfortable with being from New Hampshire” he says. “We can identify with New Hampshire being an odd place for a band to hail from, but it’s a personal identity before it’s any kind of a music scene. We’re not necessarily trying to appeal to the cool kids; we’re actually looking to make a larger connection than that.”
2007 was a busy year for Wild Light, paving the way toward the recording of “Adult Nights.” Wild Light’s easily likeable piano-and-tambourine-seasoned pop textures were a hit with Arcade Fire’s audience when the quartet opened for them at Boston’s Orpheum Theater in the spring, followed by a number of US gigs with Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem including shows at the Hollywood Bowl, San Francisco’s Shoreline Amphitheatre and Randall’s Island where they were also joined by Les Savy Fav and Blonde Redhead. Then, after wowing the crowds on this string of Stateside dates, Arcade Fire invited Wild Light to open the European leg of their “Neon Bible” tour in late October that same year. After returning to the US, the band embarked on a tour with The Stills, followed by dates with Ambulance LTD, and since then has opened for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, MGMT (SXSW 2008), Clinic, the Gutter Twins, and Glasvegas among others.
Now with “Adult Nights,” Wild Light’s melodic splendor has the stage all to itself, marrying early rock’s simplicity with an infectious, electronic edge. No ‘indie-this’ or ‘alt-that,’ but rather quality, contemplative song craft from four guys who came of age in a pre-MySpace world where major labels were the rule, not the exception. For them, getting picked up by StarTime International (also home to The Walkmen, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, The French Kicks and Peter Bjorn & John) and working with producer Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck, Guided By Voices) are validating dreams-come-true that jibe with the way they’d always imagined how making records would be.
“It’s pretty hard to rise above the din of the information glut,” says Kyle in reference to the onslaught of homemade music flooding the online market. “We’d been working on a CD for a year before the label showed interest, at which point we distilled some of what we´d done down onto a 4 song ep, and started over, working on a full length. Despite what other band’s may say about signing with large companies, to us, this is the way it’s supposed to be done, the way all of our idols did it.”
“If nothing else, I hope listeners would come away from the CD knowing that making music really matters to us,” chimes Pitman. “This is how it all naturally came together, without any game plan or a strategy, which is an affirmation in itself.”