Wild Rivers on Their Year on the Road (10/5 at UT)

A year ago, to the day, Canadian indie folk trio Wild Rivers graced the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection with a sold-out show at The Foundry, shortly...

A year ago, to the day, Canadian indie folk trio Wild Rivers graced the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection with a sold-out show at The Foundry, shortly after recording their sophomore LP, Sidelines.  The album, which dropped this February on Nettwerk, was characterized by Wonderland as, “sure to calm your soul and centre your mind,” and called, “a piece of poignant pop beauty,” by Under the Radar.  The band are currently back on the road and about to wrap their headlining tour (prior to an appearance at Darius Rucker’s Riverfront Revival Music Festival in Charleston, SC) at our very own Union Transfer, this Wednesday, October 5th.  Last year I got a chance to speak to guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Khalid Yassein about the making of the record, but just this week I got a chance to catch up with lead guitarist and synth player Andrew Oliver and vocalist Devan Glover about what the group has been up to since then.

Izzy Cihak: This is a big question but the last time I talked to the band was in September of last year, just after you kicked off a US tour.  What have been some of the highlights of the band since then, in addition to the release of Sidelines?

Andrew Oliver: It has been a huge year for the band.  I think we have played around 100 shows since we chatted last September.  We did our first European tour, which was an absolute blast.  We got to see a bunch of places we’d never been, and it was incredible to see people singing along that far from home.  We got to play Bonnaroo on my 30th birthday, which was a personal highlight.  I had gone as a fan on my 20th birthday, so it was a great full-circle experience.  We played a show at Massey Hall, which was our dream venue in Toronto.  We did a bunch of shows around North America, and are currently riding on a tour bus for the first time.

Izzy: For that matter, have you had any favorite reactions to Sidelines?

Devan Glover: It’s so hard to know what people’s reactions are to new music until you can go out and play it live.  This tour we’ve noticed people singing along to all non-single album cuts.  It’s so cool to see, and it really shows that our audience has an appetite for a full-length album which is amazing because it’s the way we prefer to release music, too.  We’ve been starting the set with “More Or Less,” which is also the first song on the album.  It felt a little risky to open the show with a lesser-known song, but people seem to be really responsive to it.

Izzy: The last time we talked you mentioned this ongoing post-college experience of learning to be functioning adults, so I have to ask how that’s been going so far in a general sense?

Devan: Hahaha.  Still learning.  I think I’m starting to realize that becoming an adult just means being aware of everything you don’t know/have yet to learn, and also learning how to accept and come to terms with that.  It’s also hard to feel like an adult when you live on a tour bus with all your friends.  I think we’re regressing in terms of maturity.

Izzy: You’re about to play Union Transfer, which will be your biggest local headlining show yet.  What can be expected of the live experience this time around?  It’s more than twice the size of The Foundry, which you sold-out a year ago.

Andrew: We put a lot of effort into elevating the shows for this tour, as we’re playing a lot of the same markets we played a year ago.  We have honed in our setlist, and are reaching deeper into our catalog of songs.  We have an updated lighting experience.  Khal’s got a bunch of new, funny stories he’s been telling before the songs.  The shows have been very interactive and rowdy and are unique night to night.

Izzy: On a related note, do you have a particular favorite type of venue to play, or one that feels most conducive to your sound and vibe?  Do you like playing major festivals, or do you prefer the stages of nightclubs and theatres?  Or do they each have their selling points?

Devan: Festivals are my favorite venues, both as a performer and audience member.  Something about playing outside in the daytime is the purest form of happiness for me.  But our music is probably more conducive to an intimate indoor show, because it’s fun to be able to talk to the crowd and tell stories about the songs.  Both are great for different reasons.

Izzy: You’ve done a ton of touring over the past year.  Have you developed any noteworthy touring rituals while spending all of this time on the road together, whether it relates to travel or stops, or just pre-or-post-show routines?

Andrew: We are on a tour bus for the first time, which has changed the game.  In the past we would stay in hotels, drive all day, and get to the venue in time for the load in and show.  Now we are driving through the night, and have the whole day to visit whichever city we are in.  We usually find some great food, coffee, and vintage shops.  In the bus we’ve been hanging and watching movies (notably Ratatouille), and playing this dice gambling game, Cee Lo.  We all bought skateboards to get around, so we’ve been skating and falling around America.

Izzy: Considering that the year is coming to an end, I have to ask if you’ve had any favorite music to drop this year.  Have there been any songs or albums that have had an especially big influence on you, or that you’ve just found in heavy rotation?

Devan: I discovered Madison Cunningham this year and I love her new album.  We got to see her perform at some festivals this summer, and she’s incredible live, too.  We’re also eagerly awaiting the new 1975 and T-Swift albums.

Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you?  How do you hope and plan to spend the first part of 2023?

Devan: We’ve been touring almost all year since the album came out, so once this tour is done we’re going to take the rest of the year to relax and try and process all of the incredible experiences we’ve had.  In 2023 we’re getting back to new music and starting the process all over again!  It’s been a while since we’ve had a chance to write, so we’re looking forward to seeing what we can come up with…

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.