Interview: The Wldlfe
THE WLDLFE is an emotional pop-rock band based out of Indianapolis, Indiana and is composed of recent college and high-school graduates, Jansen Hogan (vocals), Carson Hogan (keys), Jason Boucouras (guitar), Jack Crane (bass), and Geoff Jones (drums). The boys are preparing to drop their first album this year, which will have poppier undertones that may surprise current fans. But they’re confident that changing lanes while still maintaining direction are all positive signs of the band's progress. Their newest singles have received warm reception and their latest music video, “Towel” was exclusively released by Billboard. Catch THE WLDLFE on tour this summer, dates can be found here. In the meantime, check-out our conversation with the guys where we discussed their musical development, individual career journeys, and managing meaningful relationships.
Capitol Sound DC: I spell your name wrong every time I search it on Spotify, is there a reason why you decided to leave the “i” out of your name?
Jansen: It’s less about the “i”s and more about the name itself. We wanted the name to be a juxtaposition, where it can mean two different things. THE WLDLFE could mean multiple things for different people, for us, music is meant to be somewhat fluid. For example, what “Waterfalls” means to us, could mean something different for someone else. We also don’t want to put ourselves in a box musically and that’s kind of what the name represents. It could mean a number of things and that’s kind of what we want to represent with our music.
CSDC: So, THE WLDLFE is like nature, nothing is constant, everything is changing…
Jansen: There ya go. If that’s what it means to you.
Jason: Or just like, live a wild life. Livin’ this wild life.
Jansen: That’s kind of the point. It’s kind of cheesy and kind of corny when you break it down, but that’s kind of the point, it could mean anything.
CSDC: You all are still in school? You’re graduated? What’s happening?
Carson: I have one week left of high school.
CSDC: Of high school…
Carson: He [Jansen] was the last one to graduate college a week ago and I’m graduating from high school in June.
Jansen: We’re almost all there. I had my senior year of college, while he [Carson] had his senior year of high school. Jeff, Jason, and Jack have been out for a year.
CSDC: Do you think going to college has accelerated your musical capabilities? What advice do you have for musicians in high school- that are passionate about music, and deciding whether they should go to college or jump in 100% into their music career? Talk me through that decision.
Carson: I would make sure it was something I was really committed to before I make the decision to go to college or not. College is always kind of there, but I don’t think anyone wants to go to college and be a freshman at 26. I’d say that if you’re committed to whatever your dream is- if it’s being in a band, going on tour 24/7, then do it, there’s nothing stopping you. If it’s something your kind of dabbling in, it helps to go somewhere and build a community around you that has the same aspirations as you.
Jason: On one hand you’re like, “If I don’t go to school. I’ll have so much more time to do music. I won’t have to worry about going to shows while cutting class or whatever.” On the other hand, none of us would have met if we didn’t go to college. College is one of the most valuable resources for meeting like-minded people. So on one hand you’ll have all this time, but if you don’t go, you might not meet the people that you need to.
Jack: I think we all knew, at some degree, that this is what we wanted to do. But going into college, I didn’t have a band.
Geoff: Yeah, I mean I didn’t have a band in high school, so I hoped I would find one in college.
Carson: I guess my situation is a little different. I’ve had this band all senior year to look forward to, which is what I was saying earlier, if you’re committed and don’t want to go to college then totally go for it.
Jansen: Honestly, college itself isn’t something that creatively helped me grow, I don’t think, but it definitely helped me build relationships.
CSDC: Do you ever get anxiety with regards to the social pressures? Being in a band is a very different path than what other people take after college, like they’ll take the corporate route. How do you cope with that?
Jack: In some cases, for example, Jason, Jeff, and I have full-time office jobs. We’ve been lucky enough to work for places that are very understanding of this and are willing to work with us on our crazy schedules. It definitely is a balance though. They’re willing to work with us, but it’s still not a super awesome thing to have one of your employees gone for a month or two weeks here, two weeks there. It’s definitely difficult, but we’ve been fortunate enough to land positions that work with us thus far.
Like you said, it is different than most paths people take. It’s a fun mix where some of my co-workers think I’m in a bar cover band, while others think I’m touring the world. They’ll like introduce me like, “This is Jack- he’s in a famous band. He’s on Spotify.” Then they’ll be like, “Really?! You’ guys are on Spotify? No way.”
Jason: Being on Spotify is the “qualifier”.
Jansen: It’s interesting and we talk about this a lot- being in an inside club. People don’t always “get it”. It’s funny to hear our peers who have graduated and gone on to other stuff and when they talk to us they ask what we’re doing. They don’t totally understand. It’s fun to experience that.
Geoff: I graduated earlier and when I was interviewing for jobs and didn’t get things because I was honest about my schedule and that I would need to take off whenever I had to.
Jansen: Yeah, It’s not an option. If we’re on tour, we’re on tour. Carson experienced this yesterday. He left some of his gear at school and it’s closed on Sundays and you’re not allowed to be there. He went to pick up his guitar and the teacher told him, “Sorry, I can’t get it for you.” And Carson was like, “I need it because I’m leaving for tour tomorrow. It’s not really an option.”
Carson: I was like, “Look, I’m getting my stuff today the easy way or the hard way.”
Jansen: Exactly, it’s just not an option and that’s the main sacrifice. If my job didn’t work with me anymore, then that’s the sacrifice. It’s not like you quit the band, keep the job, you get fired from the job.
Carson: Band is life.
CSDC: Do you think having your close group of friends inspired “Real Ones”?
Jansen: It’s kind of all encompassing, I originally wrote it about some of my close friends from high school, but it has definitely become a thing where I’ll find people, become friends with them, and stay friends with them because I know that they’re true.
CSDC: How do you manage those relationships, especially when there’s a pressure to network and have more transactional relationships, even if you don’t trust them?
Jason: When we first started, everyone we met, we were like, “Oh, wow!” then we had a couple bad experiences where we were like, “Oh..wow…you don’t have our best interest in mind.” The nice thing now that we’ve become more experienced, intentions are a little more obvious. When we meet someone and we click and get good vibes from someone, it’s pretty obvious and easy to tell that person is super genuine. Personally, I’ve always hated the concept of “networking” because it’s just two people mutually being selfish, to benefit themselves. Whereas real networking is getting to know people that you come into contact with and make genuine relationships, if stuff comes out of it then great.
Jansen: To be honest, in a certain sense, that’s what this is – us talking to you could be a selfish thing or selfish thing for you, but to us, we don’t see it that way. We genuinely appreciate you sitting down and talking to us because we like meeting people. It’s really fun for us, this is an experience that not everyone gets to have. This whole industry, no matter what you do, could be really selfish. In some ways, you have to rely on other people to help you grow.
Jason: Meeting people is, by far, one of the best things about what we do. We’ve met so many cool people just from doing this that it’s personally one of my favorite things about touring.
Geoff: That’s how we see friends, when we go on tour, it makes you feel like you’re at home.
CSDC: Circling back to your music, you’re about to release your first album. Your first EP was very sad- so sad.
Jansen: Sad boys.
CSDC: The second EP is a mix between a breakup and finding a new relationship, what if anything, is the story for your album?
Jansen: It’s a little more hopeful. It’s not necessarily closing the door on the first EPs, it’s more of a statement following what’s being said on the last two. There’s an eclectic mix on this. I would say the other two are more story and about the same things, but this one is a mix, mainly we just wanted to write a bunch of really good songs, which I feel like we accomplished. This is definitely the project we’re most proud of. It feels like we took a step up, we worked with the same producer and he’s definitely grown since the first time we’ve worked with him. It feels like a good third comeback from the last one. The last one was a little more intellectual and conceptual, this is not that all.
CSDC: What are you most proud of?
Jack: I think we’re trying to be very intentional about this release. There was a lot of thought that went into the writing, the sound of each track, and a lot of van discussions about how we’re going to make this bigger and better than anything we’ve ever done. We’re thinking about how we’re gonna set the songs up to be an event, not just a show, and separate it from anything else we’ve ever done, especially in terms of the performance and experience as a package. Parts of it are still in the works, but for the record, that’s what I’m most excited for. It’s the best lyrically we’ve ever been, songwriting, it’s definitely us 2.0. Very excited for people to hear the mix. Every song is so different from each other. What we’ve released so far, is some of the more predictable things people could have expected from us. If they heard our first two singles, people would definitely think it sounds like something in our wheelhouse, but we have so many things that are just going to, I hope, blow people out of the water, because it has sounds and feels that we’ve never touched. Really excited to get those out there.
Jansen: There’s one song out there that I feel like people are going to really like. I would say the record in general and as a band we’ve grown a lot as people and collectively we’ve stayed true to ourselves. I’ve said this before, but I feel like we’re extra normal and that is something that I’m proud of. I feel like most people are relatable, but maybe choose not to be, and I think that if you walked down the street and started talking to us, you wouldn’t even know that we were in a band and that’s something I’m really proud of of us as a group. We love doing this and we want to make an impression and be a “cool” band, but I don’t see us as being “that cool”, so it’s fun to experience being “cool” on stage, but once we step off we’re just normal people.
CSDC: You’re relatable.
Jason: I’m just proud of us because we’re always willing to grow. People will say I’m good at guitar, but to me I’m still learning. I’ll listen to other people’s style and that influences how I play and we all do that. So I’m proud that we all work hard for the band, we play a lot of shows, spend time developing the record, and separately do our own thing with our instruments, in addition to girlfriends, jobs, family, all that stuff is still happening, and we juggle it and see areas for improvement. So I’m proud of us.
Geoff: If Nike gave us an award, I think it would be “Just Do It.” Yeah, we’re just doing it and not making excuses.
Jansen: The first tour that I went on was not with this band, but a different artist. One thing that shocked me about this process was that he got a lot done. He booked a lot of shows, a lot of press interviews, he didn’t have any special connections, it was just one guy and he decided that’s what he wanted to do and he did it. I’ve talked to a lot of people that are afraid to get into music and I’m like “Okay, find a way to do it.” There’s no secret or magic trick, it’s just a lot of work.
Keep up with The WLDLFE at the links below.