Bradley Wik Interviewed on Trainwreck'd Society...
A while back, before the new album was completed, I did an interview with Ron at Trainwreck'd Society. Ron had some very kind words to say:
"I love music, but more importantly I love songwriting. I am a huge sucker for that beautiful singer/songwriter sound. I am that musically ill equipped sucker who has no artistic ability but has read too many God damned books, and feels like all music should be poetry. Poetry. That’s what it is all about! I’ve never understood some people, even those I respect and adore (I’m looking at you Marc Maron) who can say “I’m not a lyrics guy/lady”. In my brain, I can’t understand that. It’s about the fucking words, man! I want to hear that poetry set to a great guitar sound! Of course, if the guitar sound is not on point, it’s going to be awful. So, I think it all works together. I just put an emphasis on the words that are being sung so sweetly into my ears for my enjoyment.
And that is where I bring in the great Bradley Wik. Sweet shit, this guy is an amazing singer/songwriter. I dare say he is one of the best. I got a bit of flack some years ago for calling Eric Earley of Blitzen Trapper “the son that Bob Dylan wished he would have had”, but I dare say that Bradley Wik is tied with the genius of Eric (Again, I’m not trying to offend Jakob or his fans, it’s just a descriptor of talent, I love me some Wallflowers). I just love the idea of storytelling in musical form. And on far too few occasions we are unable to witness such beauty in song told as well as the likes of Dylan, Prine, or Cohen in this day and age. But, I truly believe that Bradley Wik is one of those guys that just fucking gets it. They have that emotional response to the world that should be required for all modern day singer/songwriters. Honestly, when I listen to this man, I want to do my damnedest to try and remove the idea of a “singer/songwriter” out of the equation, and just call them artists. What Bradley does with music is no different than what Ralph Steadman does with a canvas. It’s art that moves you in so many different ways. And it should be looked at as such.
So with that, please enjoy one of the best interviews we have ever had here at Trainwreck’d Society. He had some incredibly heart felt and warm responses during our digital interview, and I could not be happier to have been introduced to this beautiful human being. Buy his album(s), see his shows when he comes to your town, and goddammit love one another, I know this is what he would really want. Enjoy!"
Your 2012 release, Burn What You Can, Bury the Rest, is still one of those amazing go-to albums that never disappears from my playlists. It’s been a few years, so could you tell us how this record has affected you? Have you experienced much change since the album came out into the world?
I really didn’t know what to expect upon releasing that album. It was our debut record and my first record ever. I was very confident in the songs but secretly I was just hoping we could sell through the thousand or so CD’s that were sitting in boxes in my living room. I know so many talented people who have worked so hard and put all their time, energy and money into an album that sits in boxes, collecting dust in a closet. It’s such a disheartening thing to see. Music can be very cruel as there is no direct correlation between talent, work and success. But, we (with lots of help from my extremely amazing girlfriend) worked our asses off promoting and were fortunate enough to get lots of support for that record in print, online and from radio. The shows very quickly got better (getting paid decent money as opposed to a six pack of PBR and whatever tips we can scrounge up) and we had to get better as a result. The more we moved forward, the harder we had to work to keep it going. It’s sort of cliche, but we had to learn how to be a “real” band instead of four guys who play music, drink beers and do a few shows a month to try and impress girls. But I think the craziest thing was when the record first came out and I was still working at a local paint store, random people would come in and recognize me from the album they bought after hearing us on the radio or my picture on a show poster or article they read, etc. It was weird to be in dirty, paint-covered work clothes and have someone ask for picture. But that will always seem weird to me, I suppose. The album has a wonderful picture of my handsome face on it and someone always wants one when I’m tired and sweaty after a show or something. Go figure.
So, your song “This Old House” is a very important song to me, for reasons I can’t even fully express. Let’s just say it this song hit me at exactly the right moment in my life, and I interrupted it as such. But, now that I have the chance to ask you, can you tell us what this song is really about? What was the inspiration behind this brilliant track?
It warms my heart to hear you say that about “This Old House.” My goal in making music has always been to try and give back, at least a little, of what music has given me. Music has been the backbone of my life and I define chapters of my life through music. The Wallflowers’ “Three Marlenas” was my middle school girlfriend and, subsequently, my thirteen year old broken heart. Sun Kil Moon’s “Glenn Tipton” was the breakup from the first girl I ever loved. Springsteen’s “Racing in the Street” got me through the end of the next relationship. Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” saved me in my darkest of days. I think my favorite thing about music is how personal it is and how the same song can mean so many different things to so many different people depending on when it passed through their lives and what they needed from it. A relationship with a song can be a very singular and powerful experience. As a songwriter, I’ve always felt that some songs come easy, and you just have to sit down and write ‘em out, but some songs you have to earn. “This Old House” was one I definitely had to earn. As a musician, I could talk about songs, especially my own, for hours on end (just ask my girlfriend…) but I’ll give the Reader’s Digest version. Buy me a couple bourbons sometime and I’ll give you the whole story…
I had been living with this girl for a little over three years. We met in Seattle, moved to New York City together and then headed back west to Portland, OR. We were young. She was just eighteen when we started dating. I was only a year older. She’d had a tough life up until that point but was strong and trying not to show it. We would end up going through a lot together, and the years we spent in New York definitely changed things for us both. Things were already pretty rough when we left New York for Portland and only got worse once we got here. Neither one of us felt a connection to Portland the way we did to New York, and we both desperately missed our old neighborhood in Brooklyn. Our lives were spent looking backwards, which is dangerous. But soon I had a new band and was playing music again. She never got comfortable. The relationship had gotten so bad that I kept hoping she would leave me. But she wouldn’t. We said horrible things to each other. It was obvious to everyone, except us, that this needed to end and we would both be better off apart. Finally, months later, we broke it off and she moved out. I, for emotional (and financial) reasons, had to move out of our apartment. I found the cheapest and shittiest place I could in the neighborhood. I didn’t have a car so I had a buddy help me carry all my shit down the block and up three flights of stairs to the new place. The only upside of the new apartment was that it had a fire escape that I could sit out on and smoke cigarettes and drink while looking out at the city. I never write songs when I’m still very emotionally invested; I want to understand what I’m writing about from both sides. It took months and months to get to that point. But one night, after a couple bottles of wine, I was listening to music and staring at the wall when it finally made some semblance of sense. Looking around, they never fixed anything in that apartment, they just painted over it. I could see nails, holes, painted over outlets, all sorts of damage, evidence of the people who came before me. I started to think about all the life that had happened in that shitty apartment. I wasn’t the first to live there and I certainly wouldn’t be the last… We’d had our good times and our bad times, and like most relationships, it was more likely to end than last forever. We were just chapters in the middle parts of our stories, with many before and many after.
To read the full interview, CLICK HERE