If you’re fond of raging power trios from the longstanding punk outpost of Olympia, Washington, then Strange Wilds may well be your new favorite band. Following a 7″ released last year on Sub Pop, the group’s new album, Subjective Concepts, has recently entered the world. We spoke with the band’s singer/guitarist, Steven Serna, about the process of making the new album, the band’s fondness for obscure song titles, and more.
The songs on Subjective Concepts seem, as a whole, to be a little more dense and brooding than the trio of songs on the 7″ you released last year. What was the writing process like for each?
Well these were the first songs we wrote together with this line-up. Allen joined the band on drums just before we signed to Sub Pop. He brought a lot more dynamically to the band and we’re really excited on that. Our process for songs is that someone brings in some riffs, maybe with a skeleton structure or maybe not. Then as a band we put it together and figure out what sounds good. After the music is set and we’re happy with it, I’ll go through my lyrics and find something that fits. I sort of write lyrics in a stream of conscious way, and I’ll kind of collage together a song from them. Or sometimes I’ll have a few lines and then expand on them once I put them to some music.
When did the title Subjective Concepts come into play for this album?
It was after everything was pretty much done, we were just waiting to finish up mixing I think. The title and the cover artwork idea came around the same time. It was something that just popped into my head and sounded interesting. It’s a little cheeky, but I think it fits well.
With song titles like “Autothysis” and “Pronoia,” there’s an almost diagnostic aspect to Subjective Concepts. What inspired this almost technical approach to titles?
It was mostly random. I like to write down words that I find interesting and don’t seem very popular. They don’t always relate to the lyrics but sometimes they’ll kind of change the meaning of a song when they’re there.
What is the Olympia punk scene like these days? Would you say that it’s changed at all since you began playing shows?
It’s not too much different, but of course it has. Olympia is a city that’s always changing. The college, Evergreen, brings new people in every year and people are moving away every year so it always in a state of change for sure.
Subjective Concepts was recorded over the course of three days–what was the process like there?
It actually took a few more days than that. We did all the basic tracking at Robert Lang Studio, it’s really nice place just north of Seattle. The first day and a half was actually just getting everything set up. Though the studio is awesome and we loved recording there, there were a lot of little quirks that needed to be worked out before we could start recording songs. We recorded extra guitar tracks and the vocals at other studios, all in all it probably took maybe six days to record everything.
What are you reading these days?
We’re all sci-fi nerds. I haven’t been reading books of lately though. I started this dumb project where I’m trying to read through all the Marvel comics continuity. It started in 1961 and I’m only up to 1968, I’ve been doing it for almost six months now. There’s so much bad writing but there’s also a lot of amazing sci-fi stuff. I’ll probably give up at some point though because at this rate it’ll take me more than ten years to read through everything. It really starts to expand in the 80’s and they started putting out like 30 books a month, I think currently they put out like 60 books a month.
Photo: Che Hise-Gattone