Putting it simply, the women of Wild Flag knew exactly what they were in for starting a new band. "We've all been in bands," says keyboardist/vocalist Rebecca Cole. "We knew the pros and the cons."
Been in some bands? No kidding. With resumes that include The Minders, Sleater-Kinney, Quasi, Helium, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and Bright Eyes, Wild Flag is essentially a supergroup, even if the band laughs off the idea.
The band's self-titled debut is a rock 'n' roll record, which finds the four members reveling in a newfound freedom, recalling their past bands, but also shucking expectations of what the record was "supposed to sound like."
Cole and I discussed starting a new group when everyone knows you for your old ones, and the importance of the band's live show.
Wild Flag is scheduled to perform Monday, October 31, at The Rhythm Room.
Up on the Sun: You guys all come from noteworthy bands, but with Wild Flag, you guys started the band a lot of "normal" musicians would.
Rebecca Cole: We wrote some songs. We had a set of eight or ten songs before we started playing out, but about the time that we announced that we were a band, and felt confident enough -- as soon as we could, booked a little tour...to see if they worked.
You guys actually played shows, instead of focusing on having a "product."
People have commented on that, like "Oh wow, you played shows before you had a record out." It's like, "Yeah, well, like, most bands do"' Most bands will get a couple opening gigs, and I think for us the tour was a way of testing - we had been together in the practice space, Mary [Timmony] would fly out to Portland and we would work in the practice space for a week a time, writing. The tour was a way that we could actually play the songs live, which is not the same thing to play a song in a little 8 x 8 room, with just the four of you in there. You don't really know until you go out and play some shows, interact with each other on stage. It's a totally different thing...we needed to do that, to make sure that we were a band, that this was something that we could do. The songs just don't live the same way in a tiny room with no one listening...
The record sounds like you guys had a lot of fun recording it.
It was super fun to do. What we had going for us was that we were excited about music, we were excited about playing together, we had been working on our live show. That's what we were trying to do, to document that place we were at as a band.
It feels like a really kind of rambunctious record...
It was pretty loose. My experience in The Minders, we did tours as a three-piece, as a four-piece, and as a five-piece. So, with more people in your band, you have an element that is more loose there, you can let go of things you might have to hold down in a smaller unit. The number helps create a lot of space to loosen up...I didn't know what it was going to sound like either. There was a real element of surprise and discovery. I really enjoyed that a lot. You don't get to start very often. It's a nice thing to start something.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.