By Bella Savignano | July 12, 2022
If you don’t know Wilderado from their lush, breezy, cruising-with-the-windows-down anthems, you might know them from one of their previous tours supporting Lindsey Buckingham (formerly of Fleetwood Mac), Mt. Joy, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, or Barns Courtney, among others. If that doesn’t ring a bell, then let us rock your world and introduce you to the band that will dominate your Summer Vibes playlist.
Formed in Los Angeles and now based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Wilderado is Justin Kila (drums), Tyler Wimpee (guitar, vocals), and Max Rainer (lead vocals, guitar). The trio has experimented with sundry sounds over the course of three EPs in the last five years: Misty Shrub (2017) conjures the cozy, mountain sound of Fleet Foxes and electro-folk majesty of Grizfolk. Latigo (2017) slouches more toward southern rock ‘n’ roll, invoking the 70s swagger of Ceramic Animal and the rustic wistfulness of Caamp. Favors (2018) is sprawling and poignant, a targeted endeavor into indie rock akin to Young the Giant’s unrestrained, guitar-led anthems. The common thread that runs through their discography, though, is the glistening, starry-eyed sound Wilderado has become famous for.
They released their eponymous debut album in 2021, and they haven’t slowed down since.
“It’s hard to process it all. We did a six-week tour and sold that out, then immediately went over and did some dates in the U.K. with Alt-J. It’s feeling successful! We’re selling shows, selling tickets, people are coming. People are responding to the music really well, which is always really sweet,” Wimpee told us. The album’s leading track is “Surefire,” a radiant, heady tune that embodies the Wilderado spirit. In fact, upon hearing the demo, Wimpee proclaimed it was the best Wilderado song he had heard. Clearly, listeners agree.
“It’s a chorus you can sing along to. It feels like a classic chorus, and it fits into lots of different situations,” Rainer said when asked why he thought the track garnered so much attention. The song was originally released back in 2019 but was re-released as a part of the album two years later.
“I think Surefire is getting another life. It’s getting some attention, which is cool,” Wimpee added. We caught Wilderado at Brooklyn Made, a ritzy new venue in the heart of Bushwick. The space is expansive and modern–there’s a patio to hang out on between sets, a huge bar with a pool table and seating, and a separate room with a stage that spans the width of the space. Opening for Wilderado was Toledo, a Bushwickian dyad who played an 11-show run with the band. The set was sentimental and dreamy, with velvety vocal harmonizations and danceable choruses. You can read our conversation with them here.
Wilderado played to a packed-in crowd, performing tracks from their self-titled album and its antecedent EPs. The audience was hooked, belting the lyrics to each song–most audibly their enduring hit, Surefire. Wilderado is the kind of band whose music translates seamlessly to the stage, emitting palpable, radiant energy. That could be chalked up to the group’s buoyant tracklist or their devoted fanbase, but we think there’s a certain electricity that can only be encountered at a New York City concert.
“Every time we’re in New York, it’s special,” Wimpee confirmed.
In the (very swanky, we must say…) greenroom at Brooklyn Made, Wilderado answered some questions for the groovement:
Where are you from and how’d you form your band?
Tyler: The short story is that we started in LA after college, started the band, started getting married and having kids. Then we moved to Tulsa, and in the past five years, that’s kind of where the operation is. We all knew each other from college, and that’s kind of it, nothing special.
How did you guys get into music?
Justin: I think it was just friends I had growing up in church. Some friends were more into discovering new music and not just listening to what our parents played. Friends!
Tyler: We grew up in the south, so there was a lot of starting in youth group situations. But it wasn’t until we were in college that I thought of actually being in a band. It was all pre-Spotify, before things were recommended to you.
How would you describe your music?
Tyler: I honestly don’t know.
Max: It’s like a bad mix of Coldplay, Kings of Leon, and Third Eye Blind. If you took those three bands and had leftovers or something from their Chinese takeout, that might be Wilderado.
What inspires your music?
Max: Whatever comes that day. Justin always finds an album that we all get into and that inspires some direction, but we never go into the studio to write an album.
Justin: These days, it’s Instagram. A lot of drummers I follow. I hear things that they do.
Tyler: There are so many different bands, so many different types of music. We’re just kind of day to day, whatever we’re listening to.
Do you have any goals that come with making music or a mission to impart?
Tyler: For me, personally, I just want to do this as long as I can. As long as we can.
Max: I hope people don’t feel as lonely when they’re listening to music. I want to supply people with companionship. And even ourselves, this band keeps me from feeling lonely. It’s always something to think about, to strive for.
What’s your dream venue to play?
Tyler: We’re playing one, coming up. Red Rocks!
Max: Everybody, from bands to sound engineers, just say it’s the high point.
Justin: I’d like to do Irving Plaza. And The Beacon, which we played with Lindsey Buckingham, but it would be dope to headline.
What’s your most memorable night in the city?
Max: Could be tonight. You guys should see the greenroom– it has a pool and a balcony. Tonight could be a special night.
Justin: There was a night we played, a couple of us got tickets to see Steely Dan, and that was tight.
Tyler: Tour is just in and out. We’re older now, so we don’t party. But every time we’re in New York, it’s special.
📸: shot by Sierra Horne