Wires in the Walls

10 Mar

“We want to make the band a sustainable endeavor so that we can quit our day jobs and do what we truly love for a living.”

New bands pop up everyday, hoping to make a name for themselves in this wildly popular business. With so much competition, many bands get left in the dust, unable to hold the audiences attention. When I first heard Wires in the Walls, I knew right off the bat that this is one band that will most definitely leave the audience wanting more. Since the release of their debut album, New Symmetry, they have been captivating many with their style of alt-country/indie. Personally, I’m a fan of distinct voices, and singer, Warren Sroka, has one that makes him stand out. I recently interviewed the band and learned that striving for success is their middle name.

Q. How did the five of you meet to form your band, Wires in the Walls?

A. The group started when Warren Sroka (vocals/gtr) met Nick Tracz (bass/vox) through mutual acquaintances at a weekly poker game. At the time, Warren was performing his acoustic folk songs as a solo act, but was looking to form a band to do full arrangements. Nick came aboard on bass and harmonies and the two went through a few drummers before settling on Bryan King, who had just moved to LA from Virginia. The group played as a foursome with Bryan’s childhood friend, Thomas Orgren, on lead guitar for a while, but when Orgren moved back to Virginia in early 2010, they turned to Craigslist to find guitarist, Dave Irelan. Bryan was playing in another band with multi-instrumentalist Dave Sicher and thought he’d be a great fit as a jack-of-all-trades fifth member, and so by March of 2010 the current lineup was complete.

Q. Your band name is quite creative. Is there any meaning behind it? What is the significance?

A. Singer and main songwriter, Warren Sroka came up with the name many years ago when he was performing solo acoustic songs – it’s actually an Elvis Costello reference. At the time, all the creepy post-9/11 domestic spying stuff was happening, so it was topical. When he began playing with other musicians, he dropped the Wires name and went with something else entirely, but eventually the band came back to Wires in the Walls. It’s served us well over our time together, although it does lend itself to some interesting typos from time to time (I think Wind in the Wires was our favorite.)

Q. You guys formed just a few years ago, in 2009. Since then, you’ve played a ton of shows all throughout the LA area, where you’re based. What has been one of your favorites you’ve played over the years?

A. We really love playing live shows and getting to perform with other bands we love, so it’s impossible to pick one particular favorite. I can tell you though, that our favorite venues are The Satellite in LA (formerly Spaceland) and the Bootleg Theater – they have a cool vibe and great sound. Piano’s in NYC was really cool too – we packed the room on a Tuesday when we were on tour and it was a blast. 

Q. Your debut album, New Symmetry, was released back in October. It’s been receiving a ton of positive reviews by many. While writing and recording the album, did you have any setbacks, if so, how did you guys overcome them?

A. We put much more time and effort into this record than our first EPs, which were tracked mostly live in the studio with very little production and/or experimentation. This time we worked closely with our producer to capture a much wider variety of sounds and options for each song so we’d be able to really sculpt the songs how we wanted. However, we learned that sometimes having too many ideas isn’t necessarily a good thing – you’ve got to make choices. We recorded these songs so many different ways with so many different possible arrangements, and it made the mixing process really daunting because we left so many choices for the mix. Next time I think we can use the preproduction process more effectively to make the whole project much more efficient.

Q. How long did it take you to finish the album? In the finalization of it, were you all happy with how it turned out or is there anything you would change?

A. It took us about a year to finish the album, although we took some time off in the middle to tour a little bit and finish writing some new songs for the record. We’re very happy with how it turned out – I think it’s a very accurate snapshot of where we were as a band when we recorded it. Of course, you’re always moving forward and maturing as musicians, so now, 4 months removed from the release, we’ve already got some new material that we’re working on that we think is going to be even stronger. 

Q. Who is the main songwriter in the group? What day to day things inspire your writing?

A. Singer, Warren Sroka, writes all the lyrics and wrote the majority of the songs early on, but the music-writing has become much more of a collaborative process as the band has evolved and become more comfortable playing together. Often times a lick or chord progression will be brought in by someone to the band, and then we’ll jam on it or work on it in small groups to flesh out the arrangement. We’re very democratic and very hard on our songs – if everyone in the band isn’t passionate about it and really feeling the song, we won’t hesitate to move onto another idea. If we don’t love the songs, how can we expect our audience to? Lyrically, our songs cover a variety of topics but have a common theme of dealing with strong emotions and are oftentimes presented as a story. For instance, our song YSA, tells the story of childhood lovers who grow up and eventually marry each other, and was written when Warren’s sister got married. A lot of our new album deals with the inability to see the past and the struggle to accept mortality – there’s a lot of darker imagery and the music reflects that a little. As we’ve matured as musicians, the songs have evolved from simpler love songs to tackling heavier topics like death, crumbling relationships, and trying to find yourself in a city that can be overwhelming at times. We still try to keep it balanced though, with some lighter songs to serve as a counter to the dark ones – a good album should take you on a journey through a range of emotions.

Q. Are there any artists/bands that have influenced your band? If so, who?

A. Absolutely. Too many to name! We were heavily influenced by alt-country acts like Wilco and Lucero early on, but we’ve lately incorporated a much wider spectrum of influences into our music, from post-rock to jazz to acoustic folk to synth-pop. The National, Explosions in the Sky, Bon Iver, Emmy Lou Harris, Joy Division…the list goes on.

Q. Looking towards the future, what aspirations do you guys hold?

A. Our future aspirations are simple – we want to make the band a sustainable endeavor so that we can quit our day jobs and do what we truly love for a living.

Q. What is one of the best pieces of advice you guys have received since forming?

A. Always be passionate about your music. If you’re not, how can you expect your audience to be?

Q. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring one of your songs to listen to, which one would it be and why?

A. Wow, that’s a tough one since we don’t tend to listen to our own material once it’s released – you get so burnt out during the recording, mixing, and mastering process that you don’t want to hear those songs for a long, long time. So, maybe something older? Twin Jet Engines is a song off our Call Signs EP that we don’t play live much since it calls for a full horn section, so maybe that one since we’re not too sick of it.

Here’s a peek at their song, and my favorite, YSA.

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