by Ziggy Merritt
When making something as elemental as pop music one does not have to go far to stumble upon a few chords and a melody. Making good pop music is an entirely different beast. For the members of Baltimore-based band, Wildhoney, this is the challenge. Having gone through multiple lineup changes over the years the band in its current incarnation little resembles what it was when it was all started. In just the previous year the current lineup put out both their debut album, Sleep Through It, and an EP, Your Face Sideways. Both albums oscillate between common classifiers such as shoegaze, ambient, and post-punk, yet as guitarist Joe Trainor would attest, Wildhoney exists as a vehicle for making pop music, pure and simple.
“We are first and foremost a pop band,” Trainor explains in our interview just yesterday. “We have no interest in being relegated to being called a shoegaze band. Shoegaze leaves a dirty taste or thought in a person’s mind. It kind of undermines what a band is doing, which is stupid. There are Ride songs which are just as good as any Belle and Sebastian song. There are My Bloody Valentine songs which are just as good as any Beach Boys song.”
It’s not difficult to understand Trainor’s seeming frustration with just a few of the sub-genre labels pop music has accrued over its long existence. The burden of any label immediately boxes in the reach of a band’s creative efforts. “Because we have an interest in using pedals to manipulate the sound of a guitar we get called shoegaze,” Trainor continues. “Because we love Phil Spector and The Beach Boys, My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, Stereolab, all those bands have these big walls of sound and are all very psychedelic in their own way. That’s what we’re interested in; making pop music that does have this otherworldly quality.”
That same otherworldly quality just as well extends to the more avant-garde and referential side of the band’s catalog with their tracks “FSA” and “FSA II” from their debut and their follow-up EP respectively. Named after the similarly minded Bristol band, Flying Saucer Attack, both tracks are almost entirely instrumental with the occasional creep of wordless vocals. “[Flying Saucer Attack] had done a similar thing on their record with ‘Popol Vuh 1’, ‘Popol Vuh 2’, ‘Popol Vuh 3’” said Trainor in turn referencing the Krautrock band of the same name. “Those two tracks were us trying to expand on the more experimental side of our band.”
It’s fitting then that in their upcoming return to PhilaMOCA on the 10th, Trainor and Wildhoney join a host of like-minded musicians within the area. “Oh, well, Philadelphia is such a wonderful town,” he says. “So many of our friends in Ghost Gum, Mercury Girls, Literature, and Spirit of the Beehive. There’s a lot of really great guitar bands coming up from Philly and that’s something we obviously connect with. Not every town is like that.”
To catch Wildhoney in their most recent stop in Philly, join them this Sunday, January 10th at PhilaMOCA alongside Cloakroom and Slingshot Dakota.