WILDESTARR Go Beyond The Rain - "I Think A Lot Of Musicians Get Into A Very Dark Place"
November 21, 2017, a year ago
It has been five long years between the release of WildeStarr’s third full-length overall, Beyond The Rain, and its predecessor, A Tell Tale Heart. Part of the reason for the delay was due to the decision by the band - which is led by the wife/husband team of singer London Wilde and guitarist Dave Starr, with drums provided by Josh Foster - to create a “rock opera,” whose storyline is described as being “Based on the life and death of a musician obsessed with guitar, and how it slowly drives him to dark places until he takes his life.” But the other reason was the band members regrouping after the suicide of Wilde’s brother (of which the album’s storyline is based on). Both Wilde and Starr spoke with BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato about their latest offering and the inspiration behind it.
BraveWords: Let’s discuss the new album, Beyond The Rain.
London Wilde: “The album tells the story that is very personal for me. My brother - who is a musician - took his life right before we came out with our second album. It definitely had a big impact on me, because his motivations were something that I think a lot of musicians can relate to, and that’s just the feelings of failure as a musician. It’s not always a success story when you devote your life to music, and there’s a lot of rejection…there can be a lot of rejection involved. And I think a lot of musicians get into a very dark place. It’s something I wanted to explore on this album. So, I started telling a story about his life as a musician, emotionally, and in a way my own, as well. And the other guys could really relate to it, too - Dave and Josh were totally on board with that. It made this album unique and different in that way.”
Dave Starr: “When we first started writing the material for this album - which was around the time the last one, A Tell Tale Heart, came out in 2012 - Gary had not committed suicide. So, the songwriting I think kind of morphed into what became a concept album of a real life story about London’s brother. It didn’t necessarily alter my songwriting, because usually it’s mainly the lyrical ideas and vocals London conveys, to get the story across. Actually, I should backtrack on that - I did play one of Gary’s guitars on the album, and felt inspiration here and there. Particularly, there was one solo that seemed a little unusual for my style, and I don’t know if it was a spiritual thing of mojo, but we used one of his custom Strats on every track on the album - along with my Gibson Les Paul. So, that did change things a little bit. We wanted to not just write lyrics about Gary, but actually use one of his instruments, so that there was actually a little bit of his spirit or mojo that ended up on the album, as well.”
BraveWords: Why do you think so many talented musicians are troubled and prone to depression?
Dave Starr: “I’ve been clean and sober for twelve-and-a-half years, and I suffered from depression, as well. So, speaking from my own experience, it’s a very tough thing. I think that the entertainment industry creates a mythical, kind of magical ‘pot of gold’ at the end of the rainbow, where you want to grab that brass ring. And there’s so many pitfalls along the way - whether it’s drugs, alcohol, bad luck. A whole gamut of issues that can sidetrack people on the way. And I think people want to numb themselves when they’re not happy. Now, some of these people who have committed suicide recently have been what many musicians would say are very successful people. A lot of people say, ‘Why would he kill himself when he had so much going on? And so many positive things going on in his life? He didn’t have financial problems, he had a wife, he had kids.’ Depression does not have a dollar figure attached to it. It’s something that I have struggled with throughout my adult life, and it’s not a pleasant situation. I don’t think your monetary situation has anything to do with it - as unfortunately, we’ve seen with these recent tragedies.”
London Wilde: “I think playing an instrument is really personal. Let’s say if you wanted to be a success in banking, well, if you weren’t a success in banking…an instrument is almost like taking what’s inside you and showing it to the outside to the world. And that’s making you very vulnerable.”
Dave Starr: “You’re also taking a lot of risks. Like, my dad was so against me doing this. And he told me - to my face - ‘You’re not going to have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever making it as a musician, because it’s too difficult.’ Whereas if you to go to school to get a degree in something, chances are if you just go by the book and keep your nose clean, you can get a degree in something. If you want to be a lawyer, an attorney, a teacher, or an engineer, academically you climb the ladder and doors will open for you. Well, there’s no rules in the entertainment industry. It’s really a roll of the dice and a crapshoot, so it makes it very fraught with highs and lows, which I think depression and substance abuse can really trigger a lot of bad things.”
BraveWords: The album’s title track has a lyric video on YouTube.
London Wilde: “That song, I was think about how I was going to tell this story about both my brother and I, and it starts at the beginning - with a love for music. So, what that song is about really telling a story of childhood, we didn’t have it so good - there was a lot of violence and anger and bad things going on. And music was a way to escape that, and to feel empowered. Especially metal music. The sound of metal is an empowering sound, and it makes you feel like you can overcome. So that song was just laying the groundwork of why music was so important to both myself and my brother at a very early age - it became a savior, in a way. So those early attachments to music kind of is what fueled both of us to want to be musicians, ultimately. That’s what the song is about - music being your fortress against the world.”
Dave Starr: “Your escape.”
London Wilde: “Yeah, your type of shield.”
BraveWords: Other standout tracks?
Dave Starr: “I really like ‘When The Night Falls’ - the final track on the album. That I think is my favorite track. We actually released that as a promo single about a year ago, while we were still finishing up the record, because this record took four plus years to make. We wanted people to know that we were still around and still alive. We got some really great response on it, and it’s really drilled into my head for a year plus now. People really love it a lot.”
London Wilde: “My favorite track is ‘Down Cold.’ I’m most proud of the vocal performance on that, because when I listened back to it, it reaches me emotionally, and that is my goal as a singer - to convey emotion. And I felt like I did a good job conveying emotion on that song. I just like the song. I like the ‘70s kind of ELO/Queen harmonies in the chorus, which was intentional. Because the first half of the album, I was a little more open and I was a little more simple with those kind of harmonies that were prevalent in the ‘70s, and that’s because for my brother and I, that’s the era we grew up in. And then after the mid-point, the album gets musically a little more complex and a little darker - to kind of reflect in life how you get older, your relationships get more complicated, your baggage gets more complicated, and just reflecting what was going on with his emotional journey. But ‘Down Cold’ is not a song I necessarily expected anyone else to like. It was just personally my favorite.”
BraveWords: Touring plans?
Dave Starr: “Basically, WildeStarr started out to be a regular band, or a normal five-piece band. And London and I had a really difficult time trying to find people to assemble for this group when we started this ten or eleven years ago. We ended up just becoming a studio project of London and I doing everything in the studio - except for the drums, which Josh Foster does. So, we don’t have an actual band. I do all the guitars and bass on the albums that we do, and London does all the vocals and keyboards. So, to this day, we don’t have a touring band. We could put one together, but we just focused on strictly doing studio work. We’re asked all the time about touring - it comes up in every interview, and I get emails every day on Facebook and through the website asking about this. But as it stands right now, we do not have any touring plans. It could change, but as of now, no.”