Exploring the Toronto music scene these days leads one to question the need for yet another indie pop-rock group. It seems they leave your memory almost as soon as the last power chord dissipates in the booze-infused bar air. Wildlife is not that band.

I sat down with Wildlife (minus their Craigslist-acquired bassist Derek) before their show at Sneaky Dee’s earlier this week, and they turned out to be just as energetic and interesting as their music. For instance, when not touring, “I’m a scientist. And I sell wheelchairs in the day. But I’m mostly into science,” says Dwayne.

Though not household names, the gregarious group is currently touring North America promoting their debut album, Strike Hard, Young Diamond. When asked about the pseudo-scandal involving a fan leaking Wildlife tracks labeled as tracks from Arcade Fire’s then-unreleased The Suburbs, their response was surprisingly candid. “I can honestly say that the reason we’re touring the States is probably based on that,” Graham said.

“It was kind of funny, [the leaker] told us, and we were all like, what did you do? And then we were like, actually, that’s kinda neat, let’s see what happens. And sure enough, there was hate stuff… but the good things were amazing,” said Tim. “We don’t download illegally. So we don’t even understand that computer-based downloading shit,” added Dean. “I have a dial up modem. It kind of beeps and squeals at you,” jokes Graham. So I don’t even know downloading is, really. I can make coffee with it as well.”

Wildlife usually manages to evade the trap of the trite, striking a balance in lyrics that are both meaningful and catchy. In performance and in person, you can really tell that the music means a lot to them. When asked to reminisce on their favourite songs off this album, Dean chooses Drunken Heart, and Dwayne adds “You cried most of the time singing that song too…He’s a crier.”

In contrast to many groups, these guys seem to like to engage with their fans, both while performing and before the show, and exhibit genuine interest in their opinions. “All the people we talk to about their favourite songs all have a different favourite song. I love that, that they like different stuff of ours,” says Tim. It makes sense, because they definitely have a variety to their sound. Whether Dean is emoting a whimsical power-ballad of sorts or it’s a high-energy synth and drum laden fare, they have the audience on their feet, and will most likely be humming their tunes well into the next day.

Wildlife was also quite a fun band to interview. Collectively, they had a great sense of humour and even entertained my question "Which dinosaur is most like you and how do you relate to them" with considerable soul-searching contemplation. Tim picked a herbivore, but then admitted; "I do enjoy the taste of meat, and I feel as though the Brontasaurus did a little too...Like, he’d just lunge in there with the branches and maybe he got a few birds. What’s he gonna do, cry himself to sleep? No, he’s gonna be like, damn, that’s alright. That’s tasty." These sorts of insights abound, among quips about collaborating with Tommy Wiseau of the Room, the reported handsomeness of the absent Derek, and reminiscing on skateboarding in high school.

The band has high hopes for the future, planning to record at least one more album and continue touring in the next four years. Dean also suggested including a new member, a tour dog. Catch them when they’re next in Toronto, June 18th at the Horseshoe, as part of North by Northeast. They don’t come on til two am, but as Tim puts it: “Two is okay, because the bar will be open late”.

Wildlife will be playing at the Mod Club on July 20th. For more information, visit Wildlife's Myspace page.

Wildlife Interview

Additional Info

  • Subtitle: Toronto band Wildlife ventures into the world of indie rock with their debut album
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