After a hugely successful 2017, and kicking off 2018 with their #1 debut album ‘Wild Silence’ and sold out tour, we speak to the Wandering Hearts.
Congrats on your #1! This is an impressive feat for a debut album. What were your expectations for ‘Wild Silence’, and did the final product surpass your expectations?
AJ: Well… did anybody have any expectations? I didn’t really know what the heck to expect. But yes definitely as a result of that it surpassed expectations.
Chess: Yeah I also think it was really nice for us in terms of not having any expectations but also it was just so lovely to have something out there cause we played so many festivals last year – at C2C I don’t even think we had a single out so we had nothing – just some dodgy live recordings on YouTube! We had 60 songs written for the album and we whittled them down to 12, and to actually have a product that we’re really proud of expectation kind of went out of the window, and then it’s down to how to people react to it. I think what we often talk about is lets control the things that we can control, and we can’t control if people love it but we can control what we put into it.
Tim: In regards to expectations there is so many things we didn’t expect that have happened, so people singing your songs back to you all around the Country is nuts!
Chess: 3 weeks at #1 in the Country charts! It’s crazy.
I’m keen to understand your writing process- do you all write together or individually? Are there stronger writers amongst you?
Tim: I’m the strongest… no I’m kidding, definitely as a four.
Tara: Yeah we do write as a four, and we write with a lovely guy Robin How who wrote ‘wish I could’ with us, our #1 single, he’s a really good friend of ours. We’ve been really lucky to work with some really cool people but primarily the four of us write together and we’re all in it within the same way in that respect.
AJ: You know when you listen to albums by your favourite artists and you can pinpoint certain songs, say a Beatles album or a Queen album or something like that, you can pinpoint who wrote what. I wonder if one day we’ll be able to look back and pinpoint who wrote which song-
Tim: I wonder who wrote that one!
AJ : Let’s do it.
You were hailed ‘Country Abba with a conscience’ by Sunday times. Do you enjoy these comparisons, and if so, who would you most like to be compared to musically?
Tim: We’ve had a few musical comparisons, so Fleetwood Mac-
Tara: Which we love.
Tim: Little Big Town
Tim: Abba, I think they’re the main ones, which all kind of make sense with the ratio to men and women. I think we’re very different to all of those, but the one thing that unites all of us is vocal harmonies, that’s kind of the reason we got together. Chris Stapleton is a massive influence on all of us, particularly at the time the band was forming, I mean how could you not? That voice and those songs, its inspiring more than ‘I wanna sound like that’ it’s more, ‘I wanna produce music that sounds that good’.
Individually, what are your strengths, and how do you embrace these as a band?
Tara: Good question!
AJ: My strengths.. hm what are they.. time keeping
Tara: AJ says ironically!
AJ: That’s not one of mine no, that’s divided between all of us. Do I have any strengths?
Tara: What’s lovely is, before we all met, we were all musicians to differing degrees of success, but the first time it really felt like something worked and that something really special was happening was when the four of us got together. So what I love, is Chess, or Chess’ dad says we were greater than the sum of our parts – and I think that’s our strength.
Chess: What’s a great part of being in a band is that if someone is having a bad day, everyone else can kind of pick up, and we bolster each other up in different ways. You know, some people are really good at time keeping, and some people are really good at socialising and getting drunk-
Tim: those two things are not the same people, can I just point that out?
Tara: What Chess means is networking.
Chess: As a band, what’s so lovely, is that everyone can cover each other and take part, it’s just cool to have each other because it’s just mad. It’s mental, this whole thing that we’re doing, it’s such a whirlwind, I couldn’t have done it on my own, I couldn’t have done it without these guys.
Out of the four of you, whose parents are the #1 fan of The Wandering Hearts?
Tara: All our families are so supportive but I’d say the Whiffins, Chess Whiffin’s family are at everything – I mean they’re not actually here this weekend-
Chess: We’re all really lucky, our parent’s are all really supportive and we’re all really lucky because of that, and they come to everything. My dad is a bit of a-
Chess: he’s just loving watching us, watching it all grow. He isn’t here this weekend so he’s online checking what’s going on, so yeah we’re really lucky to have the support from all our parents. What’s funny is when we started it was our family and friends who were liking and sharing everything and now it’s nice that it’s not our mums and dads, they’re not the only ones doing it!
A little birdy has told me that you’re playing the Grand Ole Opry in June. Is this your first time in Nashville, and what are your expectations for the venue?
All together: as a band, yes.
Tim: AJ is the only one of us who has been to Nashville before.
AJ: It’s great out there, I’m very excited for us all to go out there, I know these guys are gonna love it. It’s the best place in the world, especially the Grand Ole Opry.
Tara: The Opry and the Ryman are just small, intimate venues…
AJ: Oh yeah, nothing to be worried about, no pressure, they’re not like hugely famous historical institutions.
Tara: We’re going out to Nashville for our first time to play these sweet venues.
Chess: We were very lucky to do a tour with Marty Stuart last year and he’s invited us out to play some shows with him. I don’t think we have any expectations because I don’t think we quite know what’s going to happen when we get there.
Tara: I almost don’t quite believe it still, I mean it’s in our diary, it’s official-
Tim: I think when we’re on the plane it will feel real.
Many people like to pigeon hole artists into a certain genre and its quite clear that you aren’t sticking to a certain genre, how would you describe your sound?
AJ: Obviously we’ve been put into a lot of genres and Americana is a favourite of ours and I guess because it’s quite allowing in terms of what can be compacted into that. It’s true that a lot of our influences and the way we write lend on quite a few subgenres of Americana. Whatever we do, vocal harmonies are at the core, and I think because of where we were when we got together, we were listening to a lot of Country music, but similarly there are pop influences, rock influences, blues, folk and we try not to pigeon hole ourselves in that way, I think when you’re creating music it’s a bit unwise to do so.
Would you be able to describe your sound in three words?
AJ: Let’s say, harmony-based folk Americana.
Tim: We’ll take that.
What are your plans for 2018, and where do you want to be in 5 years time?
Chess: Oh god… Living? Well in 2018 we are playing festivals, we’re doing Black Deer Festival down in Kent which is gonna be amazing, and that’s where I’m from so my parents are very excited. Then we are going up to Manchester to play Buckle and Boots the next day, and then we’re heading out to America to do that little stint out there so we’re spending a couple of weeks out in Nashville. Oh and The Great Escape down in Brighton, but we’ve got a couple more coming in now which aren’t confirmed yet so I think this summer is gonna be pretty full on. I guess just working the album really, we’ll probably do another headline tour at the end of the year, so yeah that’s this year!
Have you got a timeline for the album?
Tim: There should be a few more singles come out, quite soon actually, I think Decca as a label are keen for us to put out more and more music so be it from the album or added bonuses and extras, they just want us to release, and we’re happy with that. We get to write new stuff, which we’re constantly doing anyway, we’ll do some writing in Nashville too.
Tara: In terms of five years time, I think, I only speak for myself but I really hope we’re still doing this in any capacity really. If we look at where we started last year playing the Big Entrance stage, to this year opening up the Indigo it’s crazy, and if we keep making jumps like that it would be great. If we keep getting on well, keep writing, keep singing, keep trying to work hard and be nice people, we’ll see how far that gets us.
Interview conducted by Lucy Grubb (twitter.com/_lucygrubb)