Interview - Wanderer “Songs For The Night”
For Fans Of: The 1975, flor, joan, The Stolen, LOYALS
Genre: Indie Pop, Synth Pop
Released: January 24th, 2020
Within the recently-revitalized sound of 80’s style pop, built upon bright guitars and keyboards, analog synths, and bouncy basslines, comes Wanderer’s debut album Songs For The Night. Released Friday, January 24th, the debut record by Adam Simons is his first full length LP.
After spending 2019 taking the Wanderer project to new places around the world, such as Brazil and Singapore, Songs For The Night offers fans nine brand new songs. Characterized by warm neon vibes and ethereal melodies overtop lyrical sadness, SFTN is a soundtrack for adventurous souls roaming the late-night city.
Adam spent some time with our Discover Vinyl team giving us an inside look at the record. See below for our interview…
Q: Where does this record’s “80's synth / pop” identity stem from?
A: I think it comes from my love of artists from that era, whether it's Fleetwood Mac's "Tango In The Night," or Tears For Fears, Phil Collins, Don Henley, etc. I've also been very inspired from hearing those kinds of sounds in modern records, which I think is cool. Having a lot of guitar in the songs has always been huge to me, as it's my first instrument and how I compose music, which is based upon the guitar a lot of the time. I also think I just naturally write pop music; it's not a preconceived thing. I just like catchy melodies and tight song structure. So this record is really a combination of so many things I love.
Q: How did you select the dark, neon aesthetic for the album?
A: The neon/80’s look was something I incorporated and loved from the start of the Wanderer project. It only felt right to culminate everything I've done so far into this record and have the visuals reflect how the music sounds and the aesthetics I've been developing for years. A friend of mine took the cover photo for the album and I just loved the simplicity of it, so we ran with that and tailored the rest to fit that same nighttime look.
Q: What notable stories over the creation process standout to you, from the initial songwriting, to tracking guitars and layering sounds, to the final mix?
A: There definitely are. This record all in all took about a year, with tracking for weeks here and there, going on tour, coming home, and then tracking some more. Songs like “Who's Gonna Love You” & “California” were from my previous EP. So those were written a while ago, but we revisited them, and whether it was a new mix of it, or adding extra vocals and re-doing certain parts, I wanted them to feel fresh.
A lot of the tracking was done in Phoenix with my friend Eric Hebert, who co-produced and mixed the record. We'd spend whole days and nights just layering guitar parts and messing with subtle sounds. We used this red "Whammy" guitar pedal, that is pretty famous from the 80’s, and employed a lot of wild pitch-bend and dive bomb kind of sounds with it. If you listen to "Runaway", the guitar in the bridge and end of the song is all done with that pedal, through vintage 1980’s amp profiles. That kind of wacky, crazy sound felt really cool to use in certain parts of the album. Some of the other tracks also have these airy swell sounds, like "The Dark". Those pieces just add so much texture and feeling to me, so I wanted to sprinkle that all throughout the album.
Songs like "Streetlights", took a long time to finish. That one specifically went through a couple final mixes and was reworked. I re-tracked all of the vocals on it because it just didn't have the vibe I wanted. I changed melodies and added harmonies in certain parts.
Also, I always wanted to have an instrumental track on the album. I thought it was a cool idea and a nice break from everything. A chance to change the tone of the record slightly and transition into the final two tracks. Originally, the music and guitar riff for "The Dark" was what I was going to use as the instrumental piece. However as I worked on it more it just seemed so open and that it needed vocals and melody on it. So I wrote the rest of the song in about 20-30 minutes and there it was. "Cerulean" was another seed of an idea I had floating around, and felt much more like the right fit to have a guitar & synth-based interlude.
Q: Which track in particular do you feel is your most ambitious or challenged you the most?
A: For me "Runaway" felt like it stood out a bit. Having loud, driving drums with the fuzzy bass holding the song up was something I don't do all the time. It was different and a little brighter sounding mood-wise than most of the record. That one was really fun and simple to record. It's not trying to be anything more than it is: just a catchy, feel-good ride that wasn't overthought or analyzed, it just came out like that. I think that's ok sometimes.
The most challenging song I think was "Hurt This Way". While it was an earlier single that was released, the recording process took about six months to get right. It originally had completely different verses, vocals & melody, and a bigger overall feel. However I thought that bringing the band in off the top took away from the power and size of the chorus when it came in. So, after a complete remix and writing new parts, we took it a bit slower and let the song build from the intro to when the chorus hits in. Ultimately it feels much better and more dynamic, but that one definitely went through a LOT of mixes before it was right for me.
The man behind the “Wanderer” name, Adam Simons, is a familiar Phoenix musician, having played in RadioDriveBy, Weslynn, and as an auxiliary musician for The Maine live. In fact, from February into March, Adam will be touring throughout Europe alongside The Maine.
Wanderer - Live Sessions - Who's Gonna Love You
Wanderer - Hurt This Way | Directed by Austin Gavin
Adam Simons on the 8123 Podcast - Pat and Garrett of the 8123 Podcast sit down with Adam Simons (Wanderer).
SONGS FOR THE NIGHT TRACK LIST:
1. Who’s Gonna Love You 2. Hurt This Way 3. Driving 4. Runaway 5. California Looks Good On You
6. Know Your Heart 7. Cerulean 8. The Dark 9. Streetlights