After winning over seemingly everyone who has seen them live, THE WILD EYES’ recorded output thus far has been sparse. So when news came down the pike that the band were set to unleash their debut single, all at Bido Lito! Towers were in raptures. A highlight of their kinetic live show, frenzied two-minute wonder I Look Good On You is set to be the band’s first A Side; the song’s nagging riff and singer Huw’s insistent lead vocal pack a punch equivalent to those thrown at a Miss Stylie photoshoot. In stark contrast to the contemporary approach of piling up thirty multi-tracked layers of axe-bashing that reduce the riffs to sludge, the group recorded the track in their rehearsal room to maximize the effect of being ‘sat in’ with the band.
The flipside of the 45, meanwhile, showcases a completely different side of the three-piece. Basking in the rays of the finest sun-kissed delay pedal motif The Verve never got round to writing, the beatific Too Much unfolds gracefully; the two songs complementing each other brilliantly. “We want to reconcile the two aspects of the band,” drummer Sam explains of the stylistic difference between the two songs. “I wouldn’t want us just to be known as a garage band. This release is gonna represent where we’re at; we want the next one to be completely different. It’s the classic way, isn’t it? The A Side shows what you’re doing now and the B Side points the way to where you might be headed next.”
Released by Holy Are You Recordings, The ‘Eyes are justifiably proud of their firstborn: the beautifully packaged limited edition 7” wrapped in artwork by noted designers Smiling Wolf; while the video has been helmed by former Arctic Monkeys collaborator Gavin Wood. “We’re of the world where a band will put out 500 copies on Fierce Panda and we can’t get a copy ‘cos we’re not in London, and writers go mad over it,” Sam states. “If you’re asking people to buy it then it has to be good. If you buy a record, you care about it,” Huw emphasizes. “When someone does something you don’t like, I get really disappointed. I hate it when artists let you down.”
The band’s distinctive Venn Diagram logo that adorns their gig posters – aside from its eye-catching simplicity – neatly sums up the their ethos: the three members of The Wild Eyes are not interchangeable or merely along for the ride. “We’re locked into our way of how we’re gonna approach things. If you bring a fourth element in, it could completely throw it and send you off in the wrong direction,” Huw says, with Sam and bassist Neal nodding in agreement. “It took us so long to get a drummer ‘cos we realised ultimately one of us had to do it,” Sam explains of his switch from the guitar to behind the kit a few years ago. “It’s so hard to break into our little circle. We’ve grown into the songs together; it’s like tuning three radios at the same time, it takes a while until you’ve got a clear reception on everything,” Neal adds.
Indeed, the self-imposed limitations of remaining as a trio have allowed the band to fully define themselves. “There’s a certain sound we’re striving for but you can only work with yourself,” Huw explains. “The live stuff is a huge part of us, but I find it hard to play the more downbeat songs on stage,” he says, referring to the band’s preference for visceral numbers when playing live. “For me, a lot of what I enjoy, if you’re playing a gig it has to have that elemental rock n’ roll thing.” “I don’t really get off on seeing a band play exactly like they do on the record; that’s rubbish – it’s not live music, is it?” Neal says.
A portent that greater forces may be at work around the group arrives as the interview wraps up. Departing the pub, a middle-aged gent who has been sat quietly in the corner reading (and possibly listening in) shakes each of the trio by the hand. “I don’t know who you lads are, but I’ve got a good feeling about you. Definitely.” The book on the table in front of him is a well-thumbed paperback on Buddhism. As Buddhists and many Eastern religions believe the follower must develop their ‘Third Eye’ to see beyond the normal plane, a concept featured in treasured hippie tome The Tibetan Book of the Dead, the theory is especially fitting for the present trio. The signs clearly point to this being The Wild Eyes’ year, and after you’ve heard the single, you won’t disagree.