It’s funny to be reminded of the fact that funk and soul are starting to infect the lives of the whole nation lately, instead of just everyone here in New Orleans. Who knows why, but brass bands, blues-rock bands, and all the far-out combinations in between are really making their music heard these days. One of those charming groups is Wild Adriatic, from Saratoga Springs, New York. Emerging with this soul revival, they’ve taken the influence from listening to their parents’ old Led Zeppelin and Funkadelic records, and translated it into a fresh big band, blues rock funk experience. Writing as a trio, the three faces of Wild Adriatic are Travis Gray on guitar/vocals, Rich Derbyshire on bass/backing vocals, and Mateo Vosganian on drums.
They’ve just released their second full-length album, Feel, which was recorded with six additional players on brass and keys. It’s a fat, groovy ride through jilted love that carries the feeling of barreling down a busy street in a decked-out pimp mobile funk machine. The psychedelic fusion of hard rock and big-band brass challenges your resistance to dance. I had the pleasure of speaking with frontman Travis about the new album:
What goal or ambition did you have for this album?
“We did a ton of touring between our last full-length album release and now. We were growing as a band. [Big Suspicious] came out in 2014. We were just really ready to record some new music we’d been writing since 2015. And we wanted to work with an outside producer, because we did everything in-house before. So, we wanted to have that experience and work with somebody that was going to help take it to another level.”
“[Appleton]’s named after a town: Appleton, Wisconsin. It’s not so much a song about Appleton. It’s a sorta happy song, it sounds really depressing, but it’s more of like “I’m angry and tired of your crap” song. And then it’s like “I’m getting out of here and going to...” Appleton’s a city that’s been great to us. We’ve spent a lot of time there. We’ve done some writing retreats there. So, it just fit in there nicely and made the first track on the album.”
2. Runnin’ Thru
“[Runnin’ Thru] was, Mateo, my drummer’s idea. The tagline “I got it bad, so bad. You keep me runnin’ through.” He gave me that. He was like “Dude, I have this idea.” And I was like, “Cool!” Then I just put it to this guitar structure I just came up with on the spot. It went from there, you know, just being played with. All things that are relevant to what happened to me personally in the last couple of years. In relationships and life and stuff like that.
3. Come Back Baby
“Funny story about [Come Back Baby]. [Laughs] I was writing that song in my kitchen one day. I had the melody “Da da da da dun daaa dunn,” and I was like “Shit, what words go with that?” “I want you to come back.” So, that’s just kinda what came out. And I was with this girl at the time. And I was like, “Hey! Check this out! Listen to this!” [Laughs] Then I showed it to her because I was so psyched about the hook. And she was like, “Who’s that about?” [Laughs] “Who do you want to come back?!” I’m like “Uh, it’s just a song. I don’t know. I just wrote it.” And it was a cool tag, and I kinda wrote it around that. That was fun.”
4. Cruel Lovin’
“Cruel Lovin’ is specifically about that turbulent relationship. When two people are like that, you know, we were in love with each other, but it was messed up, man. We were just really screwed up and dysfunctional and unhealthy.”
5. Chasing a Ghost
“Well, [Chasing a Ghost] changed a lot since it was first written, as well. It’s trying to like keep something going that’s pretty much just not gonna happen. The relationship’s dead, but you’re chasing a ghost, yo. That’s really it.”
6. Same As It Ever Was
“Same As It Ever Was is a political song. I actually wrote it before the election, before the primaries even. I think it’s even more relevant now than it was then.”
7. From The Start
“[From The Start]’s a song of letting go. Struggling to let something go, even when you know it’s bad for you. Again, another piece of that shitty relationship.”
8. Hurricane Woman
[Laughs] “That’s pretty self-explanatory, yeah. She like, basically came into my life and turned everything upside down. Just like destroyed. [Laughs] So, that’s where that comes from. And, you know, it’s about being wanted only when it’s convenient for the other person, and all that fun stuff.”
9. Blaze of Love
“Blaze of Love is a story about a guy who is some kinda addict. Not a true story. He was cheating on his significant other, and she knows it and he openly admits it, but she loves him. She won’t let him go. Just a fucked up story.”
10. Some Nerve
“[Some Nerve] one was at a time when I was getting out, and I felt good and confident and strong about escaping. Just saying like, “You’ve got some nerve, but I got some, too.” You know, “I’m feeling ok now that I got you out of here.” That’s the vibe of that tune.”
11. Busman’s Holiday
“Well, basically, the tagline is “I’m going back on the road.” You know, “busman’s holiday” it’s like a bus driver, when he goes on vacation, he takes the bus. It’s kinda like musicians. We’re not on the road, but we’re always doing something. We’re getting our holidays by just doing more music stuff, you know, and the effect that that has on your personal life, with other people.”
Wild Adriatic are coming to the best city in the world to prove their soulful skills. They play this Saturday, February 18, at the Howlin’ Wolf Den.
Exec Prod: Alana Duglas, Kym & Cliff Diedrick, Ed Lopez
Produced and Arranged: Chris “Frenchie” Smith with Wild Adriatic
Recorded and Mixed: Chris “Frenchie” Smith and Sean Rolie
Assisted: Yayo Sanchez and Daniel Sahad
Mastered: Alex Lyon