My Interview With Wyland: The up-and-coming alternative band you need to hear
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting down at Big Picture Media’s office with alternative rock band, Wyland. Based in New Jersey, the band is made up of Ryan Sloan (vocals/guitar/piano), Mauricio Salazar (guitar), Zach Calidonna (bass) and Chris Luna (drums).
Do you have any non-musical inspirations?
Ryan Sloan: Yeah, I’m a big landscape guy, like I want to go to Iceland so bad. We were in California touring and every five seconds I wanted to take a photo. There’s something about open land that really inspires me to create. I guess it brings out this really human side (in contrast to cities which are more electronic).
Mauricio Salazar: The California trip was really weird because I had lived there so long but hadn’t been back in a really long time and I really appreciated all that it was. And being in a different environment inspired us. We drove through San Francisco, Vegas, LA, and past the cow shit in northern California.
I get inspired by science and politics. For me personally, [politics have] really permeated what I do musically.
You are able to keep your music very positive even with the political influences you’re describing, how do you do that?
Ryan Sloan: I love the fact that in music it’s okay to be angry and to let out frustrations, that’s what music’s all about but at the end of the day I want people to walk away with something positive. No matter what side they’re on, I don’t want anyone to feel like they’ve lost. I’m glad that it comes through in the music.
Mauricio Salazar: We all have our personal ideologies but it feels like you can get a lot of the political rhetoric when you’re not even looking for it and sometimes our music is a way to be separate from it but also to have a positive outlet on politics.
Zach Calidonna: Also I feel like we’re just positive guys. When it comes to when we’re hanging out there’s not really any negativity.
How did your music video for “The Answer” come about? The claymation is really cool.
Ryan Sloan: I somehow got lost into that Instagram wormhole of seeing all these people who you may know or may not know and I ended up on Hannah Darrah’s (@hannahdarrah) page and I saw that for fun she did a claymation video for a Kings of Leon song or something. I think I found her because she is Joe from the American Trappists girlfriend.
So I reached out to her and pitched her this whole idea with like us fighting aliens and everything. She was all about it and she got to it but about a month in she wasn’t sure if she could accommodate all of the things we were asking for so she made it different from what we thought we wanted but it was so much better than expected.
One take she just did everything and we didn’t even have notes. It was perfect.
Chris Luna: It was great, really hard to sit on the video for a while because we wanted to share it so bad and we got a really good reception for it.
Ryan Sloan: Yeah and it’s kind of funny because Joe can’t stand “The Answer” anymore because he’s heard it so many times when she was making the video.
How do you prefer playing live?
Ryan Sloan: I like doing acoustic stuff with a smaller crowd, we did a Sofar show and it was very intimate. But when we’re playing full band like when we playing Playstation theater back in July, it’s feel like this is the stage we should be on. Our music is very big and cinematic and it feels like everything's just filled in a room like that.
Mauricio Salazar: We’re also all really anal about how your instruments sound so when we’re playing a venue that doesn’t have the best sound equipment it can kind of get in our heads. The nice things about these Sofar sessions is because it challenges us to arrange the songs differently and we can really hear ourselves.
Chris Luna: I just like feeding off the crowd generally. I can see people’s faces and watch their reactions and really vibe off of that. There were people mouthing our lyrics the other day and it was so cool.
Zach Calidonna: I personally feed off all of your energy. If the band is in tune and in sync and into it then it fires me up.
Who do you listen to?
Ryan Sloan: I’ve been listening to a lot of Frightened Rabbits, anything that Aaron Dessner from The National puts his touch on is great.
Mauricio Salazar: Wilco, Doctor Dog, Dawes, all over the place, I feel like we all have different interests.
Chris Luna: Lots of film scores recently, Mumford and Sons, Young the Giant, Kings of Leon, those types of bands.
Zach Calidonna: Bears Den, M83, Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel, I always go back to Peter Gabriel.
What’s your creative process like? How do you come up with songs?
Ryan Sloan: It’s different every time. Like even, that noise [in reference to the buzzing of the mini fridge in the room] white noise can inspire me, I can sometimes hear a song in it. Other times I’ll hear a song I like and I want to write something similar. It’s literally been different every time.
Mauricio Salazar: I feel like I’ve started to pick up on things that I think Ryan would like and started writing to what I know he can sing and would want to play.
Chris Luna: Yeah we really know what each other likes at this point. Ryan is constantly humming or making up lines and recording them into his phone or typing lyrics into his notes. It’s really driven by him but comes out collaboratively.
Wyland recently released their new EP Snake Hill and will be appearing at SXSW! Special thanks to the guys for a wonderful conversation.