What began as a high school dream has finally taken shape as one of Hamilton’s newest bands for singer and guitarist Joshua James albeit with some very liberal help from some other bands. Tripper and the Wild Things only officially started taking shape at the beginning of this year, but with a slew of shows planned, they offer their brand new album at a special seasonal party.
“Music has always been a part of my life and I was part of some high school bands back in the day — it was always something I wanted to do but everyone went their separate ways and it was lucky that Eric Tarquinio and I reconnected,” explains Joshua James on he and his old Brebeuf high school chum. “I always wanted to do this and now that it’s started, I'm expecting it to be a lot of fun.
“I’ve been making music for quite a while but haven’t released anything until recently,” adds James. “Eric [Sweet Virginias’ drummer] and I have been working on this on the side for a few years and it’s finally materialized in the last year. Eric wanted to do something different with this group so now he’s on bass. We got some moving pieces from different pieces from different bands. It started with Eric and I and then my cousin, Peter Keillor, is the drummer for local band Run Maggie Run. He came in with us on this project and went into the studio back in March. Our lead guitar player now, James Puntillo, is the bass player for the Sweet Virginias and I think they’re making another record now. Brian MacMahon is now playing with us on drums. It started as a project but now we’ve got seven shows to promote the new album. It’s exciting to see it go from just an idea to a full fledged band. we’ve been playing shows since early August and now everything is materializing. We went into the studio and recorded without a plan of being in a band but it has graduated from a project to a full fledged band.”
Produced with Michael Keire at Threshold Recording Studio, Tripper and the Wild Things do betray their influences readily conjuring up images of Weezer, the Pixies, or Treble Charger although you’d hope even if their mining of ’90s alt–rock wouldn’t just get them lost in the fabric of the “Sweater Song”.
“We were trying to hone in on a specific sound from the ’90s and some innuendo to Weezer and the “Sweater Song” are pretty apparent,” laughs James. “It wasn’t on purpose but we wanted to make something we enjoyed listening to when we were kids growing up and bring that back to the scene. [Weezer’s] The Blue Album for me is timeless and we wanted to make a record that you can throw out into whatever decade and it’s just good music. We wanted a laid back, slacker feel that you can bob your head to. It’s nice, easy fun music to listen to whether you’re doing your groceries or you’re at the gym, you throw it on and it fits anything. I think a lot of the record is a reflection back on our youth, easier times and who knows what the future will hold.”
The band name is reportedly derived from Bill Murray’s character in the film Meatballs and the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, underscoring that nostalgic point of view for James and company.
“We wanted something different and we just stumbled upon the combination of two touchstones from our youth,” says James. “We put them together and came up with a unique, out there name. We get a lot of comments on the band name so it’s getting us some attention.”
With their album, Tripper and the Wild Things are prepared to get more attention and while the project was heavily promoted online, the band is hoping to promote their music now with more live shows. For the official hometown release, the band takes on a Halloween party that has become an annual event for Tarquinio.
“When you’re starting out, it’s hard to get enough content for Google searches but we’re developing more versatile content — music videos and more — as we navigate the internet world of promoting your band,” says James. “Ultimately, we’ll have to pay more attention to that and figure it out but it was something we didn’t expect when we started out. It’s more and more important these days if you want your band known so we hope to develop that and well as a band, we hope to play lots more shows.
“Eric has been throwing this event for the last couple of years and all of these things lined up for us to play a big Halloween costume party and release our album at the same time,” adds James. “We wanted to do something different to make one big party. We will definitely be dressing up in costumes as well. We’re starting to come into our own on stage, when you first start it can be awkward but now, I think we’re going to put on a pretty rocking show. We just hope that anybody who likes good music and wants to have a good time comes out.”
Tripper and the Wild Things Play at The Staircase for Halloween Party III on Friday October 18 with the Mackinaws opening. Doors open at 8:30pm and $10 gets you in. Click on facebook.com/tripperandthewildthings