Michigan quartet Wayne Szalinski got their new EP reviewed earlier this week and I couldn’t wait to ask them a few questions about their quirky, smooth sound. The band are now preparing to go on tour and show their expert songwriting to the masses. After falling in love with their latest EP Fondly Truly, I was delighted that Andy was willing to take the time out to discuss music, touring and erm… being a mongoose.
How did the band start?
We’re all students at Michigan State University, but we had known each other through a small local high school music scene in Plymouth, MI where we grew up. I had just finished Atrophy for Lethargy in the Spring of my freshman year when I approached Andrew and said “I’ve got a song for you, I’m ready.” Andrew and Ian had both been brewing up plans to form a new band for some time, but I was still in some transitory phase that left my musical writings vague and varied. Atrophy for Lethargy was the first material I had written that I actually liked for some time. After I played the song with them, I knew we were on to something -it was an instant connection. We had all known each other previously, so we had a great dynamic. We picked up Nick as another band he was in died out, and formed Wayne Szalinski over the summer of 2012.
Where does the name come from?
“Wayne Szalinski” is the name of Rick Moranis’ character in Honey I Shrunk the Kids. The material we were writing (or wanted to be writing) was much goofier at time. We were aiming for this wacky aloofness that we felt was exemplified in Wayne Szalinski. We all grew up seeing the film and had become rather fond of the art of misadventure and the struggling inventor. Now we’re writing music with a deeper approach to content and lyricism, but the name has evolved to mean a lot to us and we cherish it closely.
Who are your musical influences?
Our musical tastes vary from person to person but we have some common influences. This Town Needs Guns has been a big inspiration, as they artfully piece together unique rhythms and individual melodies and create something truly unique. They also take math-rock in a more gentle direction and we love that. Often times in the math-rock and punk communities you can find this hyper-masculine aggression that is really off-putting. We really have become quite fond of the kindness they exhibit on-stage and in person. Radiohead is an obvious influence, almost a necessary one in the 21st century. Andrew and I have an exceptional love for them, though we always squabble over which album is best. Despite being a huge name in music, Radiohead has continued to evolve, predicting or setting the trend for music in the future. That foresight is incredibly impressive and places them in the realm of musical genius. The Smiths have also become so very dear to our hearts. Johnny Marr creates such beautiful guitar melodies and songs. It’s a wonderful blend of new wave pop and a more stern approach to indie-rock. We don’t discount Andy Rourke either, who wrote such fantastic bass parts, bass is so often neglected as a valuable member of the band these days. Morrissey is perhaps the most inspirational, obviously, at least for myself in particular. I don’t always agree with his approach, but I strongly identify with much of his being. Though he has this punkish angry side at times, again, I’m most touched by his gentleness and rare moments of vulnerability. The interchange between those two sides of him is beautiful.
In addition to those three loves, I’m often found listening to Toro y Moi, Jens Lekman, Darwin Deez, and a handful of incredible Michigan bands that everyone should know: Anathallo, Breathe Owl Breathe, and Frontier Ruckus.
What is your favourite song from Fondly Truly?
My favourite song from Fondly Truly is Some Collagist. It was perhaps the most effortless for us to write as a group, but incredibly painstaking for me personally. Lyrically, I think the whole EP possesses depth in its conciseness, and can be scoured over and over. I still re-analyze the words I once wrote and they take on new meanings. Some Collagist is perhaps strongest in this balance of concise depth. Andrew would say it’s the “prettiest” and I’m inclined to agree.
What has been the band’s biggest achievement so far?
I think our greatest achievement is really in the creation of music. Fondly Truly was recorded way back in December and some of the tunes where written long before that. It’s really satisfying to finally see it all come to fruition. We’re also rather proud of the connections we’ve built with listeners and the intimacy we share with them through music.
Do you have plans to tour soon?
Wayne Szalinski is going on tour very soon. We’re leaving on the 6th of May and we’re all quite excited, it’ll be our first time as a group and as individuals. We’ve got our fingers crossed it goes well.
If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
I suppose I can only answer personally to this question. If I could be any animal, I would be a mongoose. I’ve been fascinated with mongooses ever since I say Riki-Tiki-Tavi as a child. There is this adorable scene where he eats a slice of banana that could definitely warrant a couple thousand plays on YouTube. Mostly the creatures are just intelligent and protective, they seem to have a morality, and still possess this flirtatiousness that’s so very charming. They’re quirky and aloof, and I’d love to have one for a pet, but they’re not allowed in the U.S. without special permit. That saddens me deeply.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in Wayne Szalinski?
I’d still be making music even if Wayne Szalinski didn’t exist. Even now, I maintain a solo project that provides an outlet for experimentation. We’re all still studying at the University, though the future is uncertain. If I didn’t make it in the music industry, I’d like to think I’d find some success in writing, whether it be poetry or prose. I’m aiming for a professorship now, but the path changes so very often, who knows where I’ll end up.