Though based in Nashville, Tennessee, nothing of the electronic indie act Wild Cub reeks of the Grand Ole Opry. The band's excellent first album, Youth, is more Peter Gabriel than Hank Williams, with polished worldly beats rather than confessional crooning.
When New Times spoke with Wild Cub singer Keegan DeWitt, he said that was purely intentional. Eager to stand out from a glut of singer-songwriters, Wild Cub hopes to be an actual band. In a telephone interview well before their upcoming performance at Coral Skies Music Festival, DeWitt shared how his group stands out in their hometown, what musicians influenced him, and how his work scoring films impacted Wild Cub.
New Times: How did Wild Cub first form?
Keegan DeWitt: I'd been in New York for nine years in the film composer world and came to Nashville initially because I wanted to do singer-songwriter stuff. I got here and realized the last thing Nashville needs is more white guys playing acoustic guitars. It also fell into me realizing the way I wanted to tell stories had a lot more to do with film than I originally thought it did. The idea of topical songwriting with an acoustic guitar wasn't clicking the way a band where I could pull my face back was. A broader, fragmentary way of telling stories appealed to me more.
Nashville is a rarity in that there's not a lot of people looking to be in a band. So we bonded over doing a thing where your face is maybe not on the record cover and tell stories in a more anonymous way.
Your sound is different than the Nashville stereotype. Beyond the country scene there's Jack White and the Black Keys living there. Is there an electro scene too you're a part of?
There really isn't. There's some DJ culture here, but we don't fall into that. In terms of what we do, there really isn't much. For me, I moved to Nashville because it was cheap and I knew there was a music business here. The entirety of my time in New York was spent making money so I could live in New York. Nashville gave me the luxury to spend 110 percent of my time making music.
My first exposure to Wild Cub was your video for "Thunder Clatter." The song plays completely differently when hearing it within your album Youth. When you write your songs, do you think of them in the context of the album or is each song its own entity?
"Thunder Clatter" was the first song we recorded. It was during that transitional time when I was thinking: Do I want to be a singer-songwriter or part of a band? I like to think the record is patchwork. There's really great albums where each song connects to the next song in a cohesive piece. Then there are other records like Badly Drawn Boy's The Hour of Bewilderbeest where it's 15 songs long with 10 different types of music. That was always exciting to me to create every song however I wanted to, as far as arrangement, style, or theme. I thought it would be more rewarding if there was a huge variety on there.
One weak point in the way people are listening to music is that they're like, "What have you got for me," rather than "What is this?" which is a lot more of an exciting way to experience anything, let alone art.