Little Wild and big victories

(Left to right) Joshua Erickson, Zachary Keely, Jake Holmes, and Layton Keely of Little Wild, at the Santa Monica Pier in December 2012.

(Left to right) Joshua Erickson, Zachary Keely, Jake Holmes, and Layton Keely of Little Wild, at the Santa Monica Pier in December 2012. Photo: Michael Ivankay.

Earlier in their career, pure, positive reaction is what the members of Little Wild found most remarkable. The art of the show was the pride of the band.

In 2008, when the band was better known as Rags To Radio, show-goers enjoyed their energetic performances, and damn, Rags To Radio could deliver. They gave a performance just as hard as people received it. Rags To Radio’s quick success in the Fraser Valley earned them more fans and more opportunities for wild, cathartic performances.

This is where the young band stepped away from regular life, and into something more meaningful. With Rags to Radio on the bill, crowds – who the band easily won – were guaranteed a fun evening.

Despite all their successes onstage, they could never get the same reaction to their records. It was due to a lack of instrumental prowess and that was Rags To Radio’s personal, inherent failure.

“As long as our shows were wild, it didn’t matter how sloppy we played,” said Layton Keely, lead singer and guitarist for Little Wild.

The band had two releases under the name Rags To Radio, neither of which the band is completely happy with. But now, with the advent of the band’s first LP named Victories, Rags To Radio’s evolved form as Little Wild is something they can be proud of.

With Victories, which will be released on Nov. 26 via Neptoon Records, Little Wild wants to prove the maturation of their sound. They want to prove they can produce an LP. This album is Little Wild’s coming of age.

Musically, Little Wild’s new album reflects what the members wanted the project to sound like: a rock album. It’s a big change from the swingy, jazzy, rockabilly days of Rags to Radio.

The addition of seasoned percussionist and drummer Jake Holmes greatly added texture to the band’s sound, especially since Holmes has background in performing with professional orchestras from a young age. Zachary Keely, auxiliary guitarist and Layton’s younger brother, gained an affinity for guitar and downsized the involvement of trombone in Little Wild’s repertoire.

“The problem with Princess Says [another old band name] and Rags to Radio was we were trying to do something, and people thought it was ska,” said Keely, “and I fucking hate ska.”

Victories’ most notable songs – “Great Big,” “Steep,” “Gallows Humour” and “Love Away” – are like fight songs. It’s battle-music, egging on the kids in the schoolyard to throw tougher and bigger fists. And they don’t just feel big, they feel stadium big, with the capacity to fill the space that Rags To Radio could not.

“We wanted to achieve a loud album, a rock-and-roll album – and not fucking ska,” said Keely, light-heartedly.

Victories also includes the talent of other Vancouver musicians, including Drew Riekman of Oh No! Yoko and GSTS, and Dan Hersog and Brad Damsgaard from Bleeding Horse Express. Besides being created with friends, Victories is a crowd-funded effort in part. For fans, Little Wild finally gets to premiere new material and new material has been long overdue.

“We needed to retire some of our older tracks,” said Z. Keely. “Recording an album seemed like the best way to do that.”

Though it took only two weeks to record the album, circumstances beyond the band’s control delayed its release. Correspondence latencies, substandard test pressings and migraine-inducing business delayed the album for a year.

"We've kind of become this brotherhood that checks in on each other," said Keely, on the ironic bonding quality of the album's delay.

“We’ve kind of become this brotherhood that checks in on each other,” said Keely, on the ironic bonding quality of the album’s delay.

With the album on standby, the band was forced into a waiting game. The wait was frustrating and disheartening, but they didn’t just sit around. Little Wild got back to playing shows, their appearances at Pop Montréal festival and the famous Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles being the most notable.

The waiting period also provided the band a different kind of venue: they could focus on living life beyond the band again. Keely started working in the film industry; bassist Joshua Erickson became the managing editor for Beatroute magazine in B.C.; Z. Keely became obsessed with creating electronic music and is a full-time anthropology student at the University of the Fraser Valley; Holmes became a Starbucks barista.

A year of waiting and periodic deviation from being band-busy is about to be tied off, and more band life is in the stars as the day of the release party at The Cobalt in Vancouver draws near. After that, it’s the U.S.A. and beyond.

“We’re going to tour the States; we’re going to SXSW, and these are victories,” said Keely, “but we’re not done. We haven’t won yet.”

This article has been edited for accuracy since it has been published.

Kier Junos

When he's not playing shows with Casinos, Kier writes for Red On Black Music,( and he is also a freelance reporter/photographer at The B.C. Catholic Newspaper in Vancouver.

Be first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.