With the bass of Jon Freeman and drums of Hector Verdugo onboard, the group released its debut album Half-Told Bedtime Stories to great critical acclaim and international festival dates. MadeLoud recently caught up with Rush and Freeman to discuss influences, thunderstorms, and how much synth is the right amount.
MadeLoud: Is it true the band formed through Craigslist?
Cori Rush: I was actually going to post an ad, because I wanted to be in a band, and decided to check out what was on already, just in case there was something cool. I found Nate's ad and he was essentially the only person I talked to. I found him immediately, and we started playing together and found out pretty quickly that it was a good match. We decided later we'd like to add a little bit more depth with drums and bass. We went through a few people before we found Hector and Jon, and that was pretty much how it went.
The name Wendy Darling, coming from the Peter Pan character, hints at a kind of whimsical, playful entity but listening closely, your songs aren't entirely of that cartoony nature. Was that a conscious juxtaposition, or did that evolve naturally out of personal interests?
Rush: Lyrically at least, it's something that evolved. I do think there's those sort of whimsical, playful things that we do, but not so much in a playful way—it's a little darker-feeling. But it's still real.
You've branched out into a lot of new instruments and brought them into the new songs. Were any of those explicitly learned just for this band, or were they things you'd already picked up?
Jon Freeman: I just had a bunch of little instruments, like a melodica and a glockenspiel, and I thought it would sound great with the songs if we added them to the mix.
Rush: I actually didn't play anything before this band. At all. And I don't play too extensively on our songs, but what I do play I learned with them—they taught me, and they're pretty amazing. So I'm lucky to know them. [laughs]
Are there any that you specifically wanted to learn or incorporate?
Rush: I've always been really interested in the synthesizer, but I've never had specific goals to do anything about it, to be perfectly honest. But having an opportunity to play with it, and have it in our music, is pretty cool. I like it.
Freeman: I'm a music major, and learning a bunch of instruments is just what we have to do. I had all these toys, and when we were playing songs I would just envision little ditties here and there to add. And it just came together. We try to be as imaginative as possible, you know? I always kept that in the back of my head while we were writing on guitar.
As a band, you talk fairly openly about other bands you like and who you consider your influences. Do you ever worry that people will take that too literally?
Freeman: It's hard to describe genres, especially nowadays when there's bands in general that don't really fit a specific genre. I kind of like listing our influences because they show sometimes, but they also don't. It gives some background, but I'm not concerned. It definitely either blows people's expectations away, or lets them down.
Rush: When I say, for example, we're for people who like Rilo Kiley, those people might generally like us, but I'm also careful to note that doesn't mean we are like Rilo Kiley.
As performers at a larger, outdoor festival like Monolith, do you get to take it in as a spectator as well?
Rush: That's the last show on our 11-day mini-tour, and I believe we are going for two days. I'm pretty excited about the lineup, too. I definitely want to go see Passion Pit.
Freeman: I would love to just go explore around there. It's those thunderstorms, just out in the middle of nowhere—I want to see one of those. It's like you're not in a thunderstorm; you're just watching it.
Wendy Darling play the MadeLoud stage at 4:15 on Saturday, September 12th.