Considering his musical roots, singer-songwriter Shadwick Wilde and his Louisville-based band Quiet Hollers have reached a peculiar milestone on their road to success.
It’s not the warm and flattering write-ups the experimental Americana rock band’s self-titled sophomore album received from notable music websites like Consequence of Sound, POPMatters and Paste Magazine. It’s not the fact the album’s haunting dystopian folk track, Mont Blanc, was hand-picked by Spotify and added to their Discover Weekly playlist highlighting emerging, need-to-know artists.
It’s the whole idea of knowing his band’s music can currently be heard in any Starbucks across the country as part of their curated radio station. That is throwing him off a bit.
“It’s a little weird for me, because I’m a punk-rocker at heart,” Wilde says. “I’m not sure exactly how to feel about it.”
While he may not know how to feel about Quiet Hollers tunes accompanying your morning latte, Wilde does know that Quiet Hollers has been one of the best semi-accidents of his musical career.
The self-described “punk-rocker at heart” started off in bands that very much fit that mold, whether it was playing guitar with the Lexington punk outfit The Brassknuckle Boys or as resident ax-man for Dishcord Records label band Iron Cross. He veered in a different, twangier direction when he released his 2010 solo album Unforgivable, a slate of Southern Gothic and alt-country tunes influenced by the likes of Townes Van Zandt.
For the CD release party, he hired a few Louisville players and began to tour on the record. The chemistry between his bandmates grew and solidified and eventually became Quiet Hollers, featuring the current lineup of Wilde, Aaron West (violin, piano, guitar), Jake “The Snake” Hellman (bass, backing vocals), Jim Bob Brown (piano, guitar, backing vocals) and Nick Goldring (drums). The band was a more collaborative way of bringing some of Wilde’s melodies, arrangements and deeply literary lyrics to life.
“In a way, it is sort of an outlet or a representation of my songwriting,” he says. “The band, as a functioning machine, is not a solo project. It’s definitely a separate group thing.”
This is all pretty new for us, not touring but I guess touring with the purpose of going to these places where people want to hear us and know us now.
Shadwick Wilde, Quiet Hollers
The group toured and released its debut album I Am The Morning in 2013, which could fit pretty firmly in the alt-country genre. But the group’s self-titled album released in October 2015 defies consistent categorization. The guitars are more amplified and Wilde’s vocal instrument more versatile in tone and delivery. The album’s 10 tracks sometimes showcase shades of The National while showing the ability to branch away from the Americana sound to varying degrees similar to Blitzen Trapper or Okkervil River. Then again, other publications have described them as everything from post-hardcore to bluegrass. Regardless with how accurate Wilde thinks those labels are, he takes the different takes on Quiet Hollers’ sonic offerings as a compliment.
“I sort of rethought what I wanted my identity as a musician to be and what I wanted as the identity for the band ... sort of writing the band in a bubble of its own,” he says, “not trying to sort of break any kind of genre but playing whatever music comes to mind or whatever the song seems to ask for.”
Quiet Hollers will be performing with the Warren Byrom & The Fabled Canelands on Saturday at Lexington’s Best Friend Bar. It is the last performance on their current tour before they take a short break and then hit the road in shows all across the country, a few music festivals and (hopefully) a few future bookings in Europe. Having a sound that is getting a following outside of the Bluegrass State is something Wilde and company are thoroughly enjoying — and plan to enjoy for as long as possible.
“This is all pretty new for us, not touring but I guess touring with the purpose of going to these places where people want to hear us and know us now,” he says. “That’s the plan, man, is to ride this crazy rock n’ roll wave until we crash land.”
Blake Hannon: firstname.lastname@example.org