Wife Patrol: "The music you make is the sum of all the music you’ve ever listened to." - Nicole
Someone needs to send this link to Adam Levine. Indianapolis trio Wife Patrol is the perfect culmination of music genres. Forging their own sound by taking inspiration from 90’s grunge and alt-rock, 80’s pop and new wave, and 70’s punk, their debut LP “Too Prickly For This World” is exactly what we have been missing from the scene. That statement seems vague but their latest album only makes the world a better place to live in. Throughout this interview, you will find yourself feeling a kinship with the members as they walk us through their inspirations, influences, and hopes for better representation and equality in the future. We are excited to share our conversation with Wife Patrol.
Before we get started can you all go around and list your roles in the group?
NATASHA: I play drums and sing.
GREG: I play guitar and sing.
NICOLE: I play bass guitar and sing.
Are there any special or unique instruments you play?
GREG: Out of nowhere, and in the course of being deeply into metal, I bought a banjo in high school. As a band, we have yet to confront that side of me.
NICOLE: Regular guitar has never stuck with me, but have been learning ukulele over the past two years. My uke Tina Tenor has a cameo in the second half of our song “Absolute”.
NATASHA: In addition to drums, I play tenor sax. Greg and I wrote a sax part for “H.A.” that I recorded for our “Orange EP” a few years back, but I’ve never played the instrument live with the band.
What was the most iconic musical influence for you all growing up?
GREG: It’s predictable, but growing up in the ’90s, Nirvana was the gateway to being a better musician and music fan. They’re who taught me guitar and who introduced me to the very concept of alternative culture. I think more than any other band, for me, it’s all different without them.
NICOLE: I just don’t think it’s fair, to sum up ONE iconic musical influence because I don’t think that’s how it works. If I were to pick a sample trajectory of iconic influences I would say The Jacksons and Motown → Dionne Warwick → Fleetwood Mac → Pop music → blink-182 → Nirvana → Pearl Jam → DEVO → PJ Harvey → Sleater-Kinney → The Courtneys.
NATASHA: As a teen, I worshipped The White Stripes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Still revere them today.
Do you think there will ever be a limit to how “heavy” you want to make your music sound? Are industrial guitar sounds out of the question?
GREG: Anything that genuinely interests us or is fun to play is in bounds.
NICOLE: I think we will always write songs based on what feels right for the song. How heavy a song is will vary based on who is listening. One of the things I like most about this band is that we don’t try to fit into one style.
NATASHA: I’m willing to go to the deepest depths of heavy, so long as that heaviness is melodic.
How would you describe your band’s type of music to a senior citizen?
NATASHA: Oooh, I love this question! I’m envisioning particular senior citizens in my mind who I’d probably steer toward our song “Starlight Sun” and away from everything else.
GREG: I think at this point most senior citizens were young enough to have loved a lot of the same bands we love now. The Lawrence Welk generation is gone. However, if they were huge squares, I would probably say we’re like those punk bands you saw on the evening news in the ’70s mixed with the stranger rock bands you saw on Saturday Night Live in the ’80s.
NICOLE: My 80-year-old great aunt loves the band and calls the music “fun, punchy, and rocking,” so I’ll go with that.
Who would have the best instrumental solo out of all of you?
GREG: I’m not big on solos these days. Usually, they take up space where there could be more hooks or things to sing along to. I can’t think of the last time I listened to a shreddy guitar solo and thought, “This was just as good as there being more song.”
NICOLE: That being said, the only one who really works a solo into a song is Greg. :)
GREG: It’s true, I can’t help it. The hot licks just fire out of my hands without warning!
NICOLE: But really, we try to arrange our songs to showcase everyone’s instrument, since there are only three. I like coming up with bass lines that work around what’s happening in the guitar or drums, create space when needed, or give support to certain parts of the song.
What are some of the best venues to play in your area?
NICOLE: Some of our favorite places to play have been Healer - creative atmosphere and all-ages crowd; State Street Pub - people come for the music; Punk Rock Night at the Melody Inn - supportive crowd; White Rabbit - the stage is huge.
NATASHA: And the Spot Tavern in Lafayette!
NICOLE: I’d also shout out Blockhouse in Bloomington.
How has the music scene in Indianapolis been coming together during the pandemic?
NICOLE: The Arts Council of Indianapolis launched its #IndyKeepsCreating campaign highlighting performance opportunities, news updates and resources, and a relief fund. WFYI (our local NPR/PBS station) launched its Signal Boost show focusing on local music. And our community station WQRT has continued to partner with local organization Musical Family Tree to put on its Local Music Radio Hour every week, often with local musicians as hosts, curators, and interviewees. Many musicians like Clint Breeze & the Groove and Charlie Ballantine have hosted outdoor performances from their front porches (before winter hit) which were a morale boost. And above all, musicians have continued to release music which is a great way to support each other.
How has the reception been for your latest album “Too Prickly for This World?”
NICOLE: It’s been extremely positive. Our album has reached more ears than we could have imagined. Bandcamp featured our album in its New + Notable section the month it was released, VICE/Noisey included it as a Bandcamp Friday recommendation, and we’ve been invited as guests on a number of podcasts, radio shows, and interviews. It was also really special to catch the attention of Punk.Black and AfroPunk, two leading sources for supporting Black musicians in rock music. That representation is extremely important to us and it is an honor to be recognized.
GREG: The reception has been positive to an almost suspicious degree.
If there was a dream band or artist you would like to tour with who would they be and why?
NICOLE: Hands down, I’d love to play with UK band Big Joanie. I love their style, community work (Decolonise Fest), and the way they use their voices to speak out in support of justice and equality. Most of the shows I play I’m the only Black person on the stage and/or in the venue. It would be awesome to play shows in which Black people are rocking the stage all night.
GREG: Yeah, Big Joanie. Maybe we could all weasel a guest spot when they play “Way Out” during their set. It would be huge. Two basses, two drummers, two guitarists, all shouting along in the chorus.
What is the first show you are going to be looking forward to attending once the live events industry opens back up?
GREG: I’ve gotten wise to a few more bands while in quarantine. Ones I hope we can lure to Indy, like Bacchae, Here Lies Man, Blackwater Holylight -- tons of others. I’m also looking forward to seeing the friends we’ve made online during all this finally be able to come through town and play. I mean, really, I just want to be around people again. That’s what I’m looking forward to most.
NICOLE: Last year I bought tickets to see Brittany Howard and Vagabon together on tour and was so excited to see Black rockers on the big stage together (see prior dream band response). But it was canceled due to the pandemic. I would love to see that tour come back around.
NATASHA: I’m most eager to get back to Healer, the music venue/art space/portal to otherworldly magic mentioned above. The Healer folks always curate incredible shows, and I’m excited to see what artists they’ll be introducing me to once it’s safe to get out from under this rock I’ve been hiding beneath for the past year.
If there is one message you would like for your listeners to get from your music what would it be?
GREG: I hope listeners subconsciously absorb any of the backmasked messages we’ve hidden in our studio recordings exhorting people to love themselves and be kinder.
NICOLE: The music you make is the sum of all the music you’ve ever listened to. You don’t have to pick one sound, style, or genre. Play it all and have fun.
What has been your proudest achievement thus far?
NICOLE: I’m very proud of the fact that we released four songs near the beginning of the pandemic that we all recorded remotely. I had never done home recording before and literally recorded vocals and bass lines into a cell phone. It really encouraged us to try new things, stay connected, and set goals for ourselves in a time when things felt very isolating and out of control.
GREG: Yeah, that’s a good one. Keeping working as a band during a time when we can’t be physically together has been great. Nicole found a cloud-based recording app that we’ve been using to write songs while in quarantine. It’s a blast. Like three hands drawing one picture.