There are millions of ways that bands can be formed nowadays – online by taking advantage of our digitalised world, at school or in the halls of universities, through friends or maybe the one or another talent agency. Of course, some groups might have more unique stories than others, but only some will be able to compete with the level of absolute insanity that came with the formation of the now Los Angeles-based indie-rock group The Wrecks. It might as well be taken directly from a script of a spy movie coming to a cinema near you. But that’s the way the four-piece makes the magic happen – from producing their first EP in a rather illegal way, to selling a signed tricycle on eBay, the band’s craziness is only trumped by one thing – their phenomenal, DIY-infused musical creations that have lured their way into our hearts. And what’s the fun in being ordinary anyway?
“I met our bassist Aaron Kelly on Facebook when I was like 15 because he was really supportive of the music that I was posting. And when he started interning for our now managers, he invited me to meet them. After that, the management had us work with other artists in California, so all these bands would come in and out. And then we met the other two missing members, our drummer Billy Nally and our guitarist Schmizz (Nick Schmidt) in 2017. And now we’re The Wrecks,”, remembers Nick Anderson, lead singer and producer of the electric quartet. What might sound like a regular meet-cute band story, was quickly turned on its head just after the first night the group had spent on their manager Richard Reines’ couch. With Anderson already sitting on a bunch of songs he had worked on before the formation of the band, they were quick to set out to record their first EP, had there not been the problem of finding a good, preferably cheap studio to use.
But that’s the good that comes from always having a foot placed firmly on social media, as the band was immediately surprised to find an invitation from a friend of theirs to use the studio of a house she was looking after around that time. Working solely after the sun had set until it was coming up again, as they were advised not to let someone see them during the day, the four-piece spent three busy nights recording their first EP ‘We Are The Wrecks’, pizza-devouring and wine-drinking included. But it wasn’t until the last night that the story of how a band got to use a massive studio for free turned into a tale out of a thriller. “Suddenly the girl who led us in calls us and she‘s like, “Hey, you guys have to get out of there because the homeowner’s ex-wife is coming back now”. So we pick everything up, clean up all the pizza boxes and wine bottles. We got out of there and I swear it was like in a movie. We pulled out of the driveway and went around the corner and she pulled into the driveway like right behind us, we just barely got away with it,”, Anderson laughs, while dropping the pinnacle of the story at the end – the moment they found out they had forgotten all their songs on the studio’s computer and their then-producer setting out on his own adventure to get them back. “So, he goes on this crazy undercover agent mission. He sneaks through the back gate, at like two in the morning, and the ex-wife is absolutely home. And he gets in there, keeps all the lights off, transfers the songs, sneaks out and gets back to us. It was like one of those “and then everyone clapped” moments.”
“Our thing is not taking ourselves too seriously, in a very authentic way. We‘re not hiding behind anything. It‘s a “what you see is what you get” kind of situation with us.“– Nick Anderson
Many years later, The Wrecks have grown in many ways – from learning how to produce everything themselves and building their own home studio, to slowly but surely finding their home in the world of alternative rock. But if there is one thing they have stayed firmly close to it’s the appreciation for their past and all the wild ventures that got them to where they are now. “My favourite moments are our small milestones, like signing up for a record deal. We make an effort to celebrate them, no matter how big or small they are. I think it‘s important to do that, because whether you’re selling five million copies of an album or 5000, just celebrate those moments because they only come once,”, singer Anderson states, hinting at the release of their ecstatic debut record ‘Infinitely Ordinary’ and its counterpart EP ‘Static’. Brought to life in May 2020, the album and its probable setback had been the source of many discussions. And while other bands had decided to push back their releases in the eye of the pandemic, The Wrecks are proud of standing their ground: “We had promised our fans a debut album for three and a half years, so we were never going to postpone. I remember in April, just a month into the pandemic, it already felt like it had been going on forever. And people had no idea what to do with themselves, there was nothing to look forward to,”, Anderson recalls. “So the thought that we could put something on people’s calendars to look forward to felt really good. We gave them this thing that was definitely going to happen, that no one could take away from them. It was like a break from the madness for a second.” Looking at the massive reaction from their excited fanbase, it was quickly decided that the group had gone with the right path. Packed with irresistible hooks, clever lyrics and gripping instrumentals, each of the debut’s tracks feels like a short movie, captivating plots and intriguing scenes included. And with their 2021 release ‘Static’ and three more EPs in the starting blocks, the group is set to effortlessly build upon their previous momentum with smarts, style, and their fresh sense of energy and creativity.
Besides the impeccable artistry and their spectacular musical tours de force, it’s their one-of-a-kind humour and level of self-awareness that sets the group off from the rest. From setting up two live stream shows and building the themed set-pieces all by themselves, first selling a signed tricycle on eBay and then never actually seeing any of the money, to spending hundreds of hours filming a music video with thumbs for characters because the budget had been spent on groceries and rent – absolutely everything about The Wrecks is out of the ordinary. Their records might not sound as perfect as the ones coming from the millionaire rock stars out there, but even their mistakes are proudly referred to as “happy little accidents”. No wonder they have turned it into their star-USP: “I think our thing is not taking ourselves too seriously, in a very authentic way. We’re very self-deprecating in that sense. Whether it’s on stage or in our videos, we not only don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we don‘t really take the world around us too seriously either. And we‘re not hiding behind anything. It’s like a “what you see is what you get” kind of situation with us,”, the soon 26-year-old explains, while also noting the seriousness and importance the singer and his fellow band-members take from being part of the public sphere and having thousands of people looking up to you.
“I don‘t think that it‘s an artist’s obligation to be necessarily outspoken. But you have a license to talk about things like mental health when you have a platform.”– Nick Anderson
One topic Anderson has spent a lot of time with has been the change in the image of mental health in the world, especially online and among younger people. From being bullied in high school for putting himself out there more to suffering from depression and ADD (attention deficit disorder), the artist feels a certain responsibility opening up the conversation within his platform and pulling it back to what really matters. “It’s such an important message to tell kids that it’s okay to be okay too. I’m watching my little sister who’s struggling with real depression, and there’s a whole culture of emo TikTok, where it’s cool to be sad. It’s become this thing you have to have to be popular. It’s a total 180 degrees change from what I went through. I felt like an outcast for it, when maybe now I‘d be popular because of it,”, the songwriter and producer ponders, further illuminating the ignorance and fake compassion he sees being spread by other bands and musicians. “I think it’s dangerous to talk about mental health in an ambiguous way. If you’ve got a voice, use it in a real way and don’t just say some corporate slogan. Of course, I don‘t think that it’s an artist’s obligation to be necessarily outspoken. I think an artist’s obligation is to make art. And it can start and end there if it has to. But you have a license to talk about things like mental health when you have a platform.”
It’s that kind of devotion that makes it clear why The Wrecks have made it to where they are now. Gone are the days where the four-piece secretly takes over someone’s studio at night or spends all their money on having a producer master all their songs and then not uses any of it before doing everything themselves. It might have taken them a bit, but now the group has found its place in the industry, weaving their unique DIY-aesthetic through all of their stand-out releases, while never being afraid to throw out the odd joke at their own expense. And this is exactly why the only way for them is up. Not only because they truly deserve it, but because they always wanted it that way: “I always thought that we would make it. I sometimes ask myself, is this what I expected? Did I think that we would be this big? To be honest, I expect us to be even bigger. We’ve got this kind of naivety that we’re floating around this world and will eventually be as big as we want to be. But success finds you because when you think that way you work more, you pick up the phone more, you send that one extra email. You practice a little harder when you expect that things are going to go up.”
The Wrecks’ debut album ‘Infinitely Ordinary’ and the EP ‘Static’ are out now. Follow the band on Instagram, Twitter and Spotify.
Written by Laura Weingrill // photography by Matty Vogel