Wild Nothing Wants You to Stop Picking on Nickelback
One thing I’ve never understood about musicians is how they can perform the same songs night after night for months, years, even decades. It makes perfect sense to me when a band wants to ditch their back catalog and just focus on new stuff.
Jack Tatum has certainly felt this way, but he also understands that people love all his old stuff. His band is called Wild Nothing, and over the past three years Jack has been steadily releasing newer and newer music. These days it is extremely new. It’s something he’s done to please his growing fan base, but also to please a nagging case of self-doubt. The Virginia-born musician has followed his two albums with transitional EPs done on quick turnarounds. It’s a strategic move that doesn’t just keep the ball rolling, but keeps Jack motivated. After releasing his critically adored second album Nocturne last fall, Jack is back with a new EP and a new direction for his dream pop sound, one that introduces a strong electronic influence he seems quite excited about.
I got Jack on the phone from his Brooklyn apartment to talk about the importance of trying to love your own music, how the EP format gets a bad rap, and how Michelle Williams accidentally ended up in one of his videos.
Noisey: Your press release says you were “struggling with what it meant to be a musician, with what music in general means, and what part you could possibly play in it.” What does that even mean?
Jack Tatum: I think it was particular to this record. I had a lot of frustration in touring Nocturne, kind of in my own head really, not to do with anyone else. I feel like I’m always struggling with insecurities and self-doubt about my music, I think because I take it too seriously. I hate that about myself, that I feel like I’m not doing good enough. I have this very quick turnaround with myself, where I’ll be extremely proud of something I’ve done, and then within a couple of months, it was not what I thought or wanted it to be. It’s really just this weird psychosis of self-doubt. If anything it’s what drives me to keep making music. So, I can’t say that I’m terribly unhappy with it. But with this EP, in particular, I was really getting down with touring too. It’s such a stupid thing to complain about and I am aware of that, but when you do it constantly it sort of deadens you to your own music and you kinda hate your own songs after a while. I started to realize that I wasn’t happy with what I’d been doing. Now I feel like I’ve accomplished in seven songs on this EP what I really wanted to do with Nocturne, which is to find a way to compromise all of the things I’m everything in musically. I think I did that more with this EP than I have everything in the past. And I’ve been talking non-stop for a while now. [laughs]
You mentioned how you got bored of playing the same songs every night. I’ve often wondered how musicians do it. There’s no way the Rolling Stones still enjoy playing “Satisfaction” after 50 years.
But I think the thing that ultimately drives people to want to do that, and even within my few years of playing my own songs live, you have these frustrations, but also it’s the truest form of seeing how your music affects other people. And so it’s one of the only ways you can get outside of your music and see how it can affect others. That’s obvious to say, but having your fans right in front of you, but think, “This is the song I’ve played 300 times, but it is still special to this person.” And it’s special to me too, but being able to see that in person is what keeps you able to do it.