It’s not easy to make the leap from one instrument to another, especially from percussive to melodic. Nonetheless, drummer Jake Watson, decided to hand off sticks for picks. The result is the introspective and moody alt-folk unit, Wind and the Wild.
The band started in Watson’s bedroom. “I used a 200 dollar mike that I had,” he says. “I recorded the songs I wrote on guitar.” He paired up with Chris Snow, who now shares vocal and guitar duties with him. Both had come to Montreal from Chelsea to go to university.
“He was a little bit older,” says Watson. “We went to the same high school, so we knew each other, but we weren’t close friends. I knew he was a guitarist.”
Once they started jamming together, things they connected. Soon, fellow Chelsean, Mitch Chevrier joined on drums, and Montreal native Eric Leger rounded things out with bass.
When it comes to creating songs as a band, usually Watson or Snow comes up with an initial idea. “It can be a basic riff idea or a melody, or something much more developed. We bring it to the band in some sort of jam,” says Watson. “If we have any ideas about what we want with the song, we give them some tips. We jam it out, play it through a couple of times. And then I guess we go from there.”
When it comes to writing the initial piece, Watson begins with the music itself. “In terms of writing songs, I just sit around and fool around with various things on guitar. Once I have something that I like, I hum along some of the melody to it. Usually the lyrics come quite a bit after building the melody of the song.”
Just because the lyrics come later in the process, doesn’t mean they suck. “I value lyrics a lot. I can’t listen to things that I feel are poorly written. If a song has a cool melody and terrible annoying lyrics, it’s not something I like,” says Watson. “But for me, the most important thing is that the melody and lyrics go together. I also don’t like songs based on the lyrics alone. It has to be both.”
On its second album, the band has an introspective and isolated sound, nostalgic even. “I tend to write things when I’m in a thinking state,” Watson says. “It might be on the train from Ottawa to Montreal. That’s my best times for sitting there and doing it.”
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The album is meant to reflect where Watson, Snow, and Chevrier grew up. “It’s a little bit folk based, nostalgic, and heavier with beats and chord progressions,” says Watson. “We were going for making people feel certain things, to reflect on the rural nature of the place we come from.”
“It’s kind of wintery,” he says. “Although we recorded the album in the summer. In some ways, I feel like we’re more of a wintery band.”
The band has played a number of shows in Montreal. Watson notes that playing live and recording are different, but he doesn’t have much preference for one over the other.
“For starters, recording takes much more time, and you go over something many, many times to make sure it’s absolutely perfect. You’re not playing through the entire song and feeling it. It’s about end project. Layers get built,” he says.
“Playing live is getting into it,” he says. “You don’t have time to go over something three or four times. You play it once. You have a completely different mindset because you are playing for people and have to engage them.”
Wind and the Wild has a few projects planned for the future. In the next few months, the band is planning to release a three-song EP.
The Wind and the Wild plays with David Taggart at Casa del Popolo (4873 St. Laurent) on January 7. 8:30 p.m. $5
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