I had the honor of speaking to some of the core members of Wild Rivers at Moon River Festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Wild Rivers is a band from Toronto, Canada. Core members include Khalid Yassein (vocals, guitar), Devan Glover (vocals), and Andrew Oliver (guitar, bass). This was their first time performing at Moon River Festival. Earlier this year they released their album, Sidelines and have been touring throughout the United States, UK, and Canada since the release. Now they are back in the U.S. at the final stretch of their tour. I asked them a couple of questions about them, their album, and tour.
How do you describe this album?
Khalid: Kind of like a quarter life crisis album is how we describe it. A lot of it is about perspective. We all moved to LA, we were working on this album, had a bunch of life changes. A lot of what we were talking about was trying to stay present in this weird mobile life that we lead. A lot of the time we were not entirely present, we were watching from the sidelines. We had a song called Weatherman that talked about that concept on the album. The whole record is about perspective and trying to put yourself in a situation, trying to look back at situations, and just kind of the distance of where you are and what you’re thinking about.
So you spent some time in Los Angeles?
Khalid: Well we are from Toronto, spent some time in Nashville, we spent some time in Los Angeles. But that was our biggest stretch as a band, we did like 6 months, rented a house, worked on music.
How was that?
Khalid: It was great. It was a weird sitcom-like life to live together and make music but it was awesome. LA was such an amazing music city. We loved getting out of the cold. It was perfect.
Can you tell us about your album cover and the concept behind it?
Khalid: We kind of have a car in like everyone of our songs accidentally. We just had a photoshoot that day and we rented this car from this random dude on Craigslist.
Andrew: Colton. Shout out Colton.
Khalid: Is his name Colton?
Andrew: I believe so.
Khalid: It was this beautiful old car, the color kind of matched the album aesthetic. There’s also the sidelines thing with the lines on the road. The photographer went up on an overpass and we laid down on the car and it was just like a perfect unplanned thing, other than renting the car.
Is there any song in the album that means the most to you?
Andrew: Kind of switches all the time. I like Safelight at the very end.
Devon: I think more or less it does a great job of addressing the overall theme of the album which is why we put it first, so that one was kind of like the thesis statement.
What was the message behind the song “Amsterdam”?
Devon: It’s about my cousin. I fully exploited her breakup situation. She’s a close relative of mine, we’re basically sisters. She was in a long distance relationship. She had met a guy on an exchange program, He was in Australia and she was in Canada and they did long distance for 2 years. They were going to end the long distance by moving to Amsterdam together. They had this whole plan, they waited it out for so long and then two weeks before she was going to go, he got cold feet. Then he called her and dumped her over the phone. It was just this horrible situation. She had been holding on to this dream of what their life was going to be for so long. So that’s kind of what it’s about. But the happy ending is that they ended up getting back together and moving to Amsterdam together. It’s all good! We played the song for them a few months ago live in an Amsterdam show and it was a hilarious full circle moment.
Andrew: I think the boyfriend forgave us maybe?
Devon: Yea yea. Kind of going to haunt them forever but that’s what we do for our job. Don’t tell us a story if you don’t want us to write about it.
What’s your writing process?
Khalid: Sometimes we write together as a band, all three of us. Sometimes we write with songwriters in Nashville or LA. Sometimes I’m alone in my room doing emo bedroom stuff. When I do that I melody first, I kind of just sing a gibberish language. I try to get deep into my subconscious, because I have trouble thinking about my feelings with my conscious brain. And usually something kind of cool comes out or I say something and I grab on to it and build the song around that. But it starts out very free flowing and then putting together the puzzle piece.
Any memorable moments during tour?
Devon: So many already! This is our first time on a tour bus so everything so far has been novelty and hilarious like getting ready for bed together, it’s like we’re a little family living in an RV. Movie nights. We’ve been doing some dice games. Everything’s weird and funny.
Khalid: We started gambling on this tour together like a 1 dollar bill dice game and I think the first night we did it, we were up till sunrise and it got completely out of hand. We liked the post show indoor activities. We’re not throwing TVs out the window, we’re just doing weird stuff in our hotel rooms or bus.