Pop-punk is a very interesting genre of music – the genre has been around for decades, but only gained mainstream popularity in the last 20-25 years with the rise of bands like Green Day, The Offspring, and New Found Glory. You’d be remiss to forget about arguably the masters of the genre, Descendents.
With current bands like The Wonder Years and Neck Deep reaching the top of the heap, many pop-punk bands fall by the wayside. When you hear Wander’s self-titled debut album, however, you won’t want to let go of it. The band as a whole is one of the most fresh and unique takes on the genre in the last few years, combining aspects of pop-punk, indie rock flourishes, and above average lyrics into a blender that reminds me more of Turnover’s Magnolia album than anything else, though with more atmosphere and dizzying technical ability.
I caught up with Jack Rentschler (guitarist/vocals) of Wander about their new EP, the self-titled album, and why Jimmy Eat World is such an important band. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be sure to check out the song “Brave” below as well. It’s one of the best songs overall from their debut album.
Please introduce yourself and what you do in Wander.
My name is Jack Rentschler and I play guitar for the band Wander.
You guys are coming off the recent release of an EP and a self-titled, debut album in the last year, the latter of which was incredibly well-received. What have the last 12 months been like for you and the band?
It has been a pretty surreal year for sure. We’re still a really small band in the grand scheme of things, but I honestly never expected us to get this far. When we independently released our full-length on Bandcamp, we thought we were going to have to go through this huge process of sending it out to labels and agents so we could cement ourselves in the industry. Three days after its initial release on Bandcamp, We Are Triumphant contacted us saying they wanted to talk about a potential signing. Over the next few days we had about six other labels hit us up showing interest in signing us; it was insane. This band went from a personal hobby and stress reliever to something very serious, very fast. We’re really anxious to see what the next year has in store for us.
You covered my favorite JEW song, “Sweetness”, for a compilation recently. What’s your favorite Jimmy Eat World album and why?
Bleed American is my favorite without a doubt. Not only does it have most of my favorite JEW songs on it, but it was also the first JEW album that I heard. I associate that album with being a kid, and the feeling of youth is somewhat euphoric to me.
What are some of your favorite albums to listen to, past and present?
Copeland – Ixora, Beneath the Medicine Tree, In Motion, You Are My Sunshine
B.B. King – Live at the Regal
Between the Buried and Me – Coma Ecliptic
TesseracT – Altered State
John Mayer – Continuum, Battle Studies, Heavier Things
I the Mighty – Connector
Tides of Man – Dreamhouse, Young and Courageous
Deafheaven – Sunbather
Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Bon Iver
Are you or the rest of the band big gamers at all? If so, what games are you playing currently?
I have a tattoo from Bioshock and Andy has one from Majora’s Mask; I think it is safe to say we are huge video game nerds. I just got done playing through Bloodborne (I’m a huge fan of the “Souls” games), Batman: Arkham Knight and The Witcher III (I’m a PS4 guy). Just recently I have gotten back into playing Destiny after taking about a year off.
What do you want people to take away from seeing Wander live, and listening to the music?
I just want people to feel something. All of my favorite bands make me feel a certain way whenever I listen to them or see them in a live setting, and I think that is something that’s really special. Whether that feeling is hope, angst, sadness, or happiness, I hope that people can get attached to our music the way I have become attached to my favorite bands. It’s the type of relationship that transcends all the trivial nonsense that we are surrounded with every day.
What band breakup impacted you the most?
Copeland, my favorite band. When they announced their breakup I felt like I had just lost my best friend. I had never seen them live at that point and they ended a career that I felt was incomplete. When they announced their reunion album “Ixora” and tour with Paramore, I was ecstatic.
The cover art for both the self-titled full-length and your new EP are both fantastic – who did them, and can you tell us more about him?
Thank you! The album art for the full-length was done by Bradley F. Edwards, who is famous for doing the album art for A Lot Like Birds. “Rest” was done by our friend Chelsea Beck; she did an amazing job.
How do you overcome stage fright/nervousness when playing live? How long did it take you to get over it (if it affected you)?
I honestly couldn’t tell you because that type of setting is where I am the most relaxed. Playing live is something I look forward to above all else, and it’s where I feel like I belong. I guess I’m very lucky in the sense that I have never really had to deal with stage fright.
Where do you see Wander “wandering” in the next few years, overall?
We’ve got some pretty big things in the works right now. We’re hoping that one thing in particular will create a domino effect that will lead us to making this band our career.
What do you do for your “day job”?
I work for the Federal Government as a Financial Management Analyst (a glorified title for an accountant). It’s not a very musical job.
What’s next for the band? Do you have any news or things you’d like to share with anyone reading this?
Hopefully some more touring and definitely some new music. We’ve been hard at work on new material and can’t wait for everyone to hear. I just want to extend a special thank you to all who have supported us over the last two years. Whether you’re a close friend, a family member, or a fan of our music, we couldn’t exist without your support.
Thanks very much for the interview!