Last September I was chatting with singer/songwriter Kelsey Wilson about her funk outfit Sir Woman, who were currently on the road, and she casually mentioned that her [seemingly off the radar] band Wild Child were actually preparing to drop a new album, their first since 2018’s Expectations. Well, today the Austin-based indie Americana band (led by Wilson and Alexander Beggins) released End of the World, Wild Child’s fifth studio LP and first on Wilson and Beggins’ very own Reba’s Ranch Records. In just two weeks they’ll be hitting the road with a five-week tour that includes an April 16th stop at Underground Arts, the group’s first performance at the Eraserhead basement venue that most frequently hosts metal and hardcore shows.
Yesterday I got a chance to chat with Wild Child vocalist, ukulele player, and co-founder Alexander Beggins, who had recently been recording as a solo artist under the moniker CoCo Zandi. Of End of the World, Beggins tells me, “It’s kind of the record that we didn’t think we’d make… We were burnt out after the fourth record, and the pandemic hit and it’s like, ‘You can’t go on the road!’ and we were like, ‘Oh no! [sarcastically]’” However, Beggins admits that it was this time off of the road that actually inspired the band to keep going: “We were doing these Zoom shows with just like one, or two, or very few people… And they were showing us their dogs and cats and telling us how much our music means to them… You can forget the music you make can have an effect on people!” He also admits that not currently being tied to a label made the idea of making new music more appealing: “We started working on a couple new songs, but with no aim. In the past, when we were on a label, every year it was like, ‘Let’s go!’ and we were trying to put together an album, and that pressure kinda sucks sometimes.”
And although Wild Child are officially back in a big way, Beggins and Wilson fully intend to continue working on Sir Woman and CoCo Zandi, which was much of the thinking behind starting their own label, Reba’s Ranch Records. “We have a lot of music coming out between me and Kelsey, and Wild Child. We were like, ‘We have all this music, so why don’t we just do it?’ And we did!” says Beggins of the label. End of the World is Wild Child’s first independently released album since Pillow Talk, their 2011 debut: “We’ve always been with labels, except for our first record, which was self-released, but not on purpose, just because no one wanted it [laughs].” However, he does say that there are certainly benefits to owning 100% of your music and doing everything yourself: “Learning about how to run another kind of business is cool. These days you have to be smart, and you have to understand the business side of it.”
Wild Child have played the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection a number of times over the years, including headlining shows at North Star Bar, Johnny Brenda’s, Union Transfer, and Boot & Saddle. And Beggins tells me he definitely has some fond memories of those shows. “All of the Johnny Brenda’s shows stand out to me. That’s where we cut our teeth,” he tells me, having performed with Wild Child there in 2014 and 2015, and admitting that he definitely wouldn’t mind returning: “That’s just a cool spot. I’d love to play there again!” He even confesses to appreciating the charm of perhaps the room’s one and only flaw: “I always remember there’s that one pillar in the middle of the floor and someone’s always peeking their head out from each side, trying to get a view of the whole stage.”
However, Beggins tells me that Wild Child have gotten comfortable playing all different kinds of venues: “We can play any size room. We’ve played to 30,000 people and we’ve played to 30 people.” But he does admit to prefer certain settings more than others: “Sometimes with those big festival shows everyone’s a blur. Some of my favorite rooms are those small, dark rooms without anyone in them… Or maybe there are, but you can’t see them [laughs].” He also tells me that after playing these super intimate shows over lockdown, he’s excited to get the band back into bigger and livelier settings, which Underground Arts fits quite well: “There’s a sweet spot, like those 500-capacity rooms or something like that.”
Wild Child did play SXSW in their hometown earlier this month, but it’s been a while since most of us have gotten to see the band, and if you’re wondering what to expect of their upcoming shows, Beggins tells me fans can anticipate, “some songs from each record,” and, “a little bit of something for everyone,” before going on to clarify, “You’re gonna hear a lot of the new record, which comes out [today], but we’re not gonna do that thing that some bands do where we neglect to play all the songs that people wanted to hear.” And when I ask what the future holds for Wild Child, he tells me that there’s going to be a good deal of additional touring: “All we can really say is there’s gonna be some more shows poppin’ up throughout ’23… We’re hoping to go to some places we’ve never been before… We’re going to try to do a bit more globetrotting with this record.”
*Get your tickets here.