Good evening Ladies and Draculas. I have a secret message from beyond the grave. You know that cassette of the Pretty in Pinksoundtrack you're always playing? Well toss it in the trash because it's time to graduate. Guitarist Wymond Miles of the Fresh and Onlys is moonlighting with his own tunes, his own band, and his own new record Under the Pale Moon and oh my goth is it good. Calling to mind the Psychedelic Furs, Bauhaus and Echo and the Bunnymen, Wymond is here with romantic midnight crooning for making out with a red wine mustache in a graveyard. Reverb is the word and he knows how to use it. I sat down with "the Count" to let him get to the heart of each song on his new LP.
“Strange Desire” I hadn’t written a song in years. Took some time to go back to school, start up the Fresh and Onlys, and be a dad. This just fell into my lap one night. Nothing special, two chords, and some pretty candid musings on lust. I didn’t take it seriously until I casually recorded it later that week and that heavy swagger of a bass line snaked its way in and seduced me to make a record.
“Pale Moon” Again, this oozed out so casually the same week I hardly noticed it, and just as before, it wasn’t until the bouncy bass riff was written that I realized I had a gorgeous starry eyed child in my lap. As lyrics got refined I realized I had a whole world I wanted to create. When I was born the sun and moon were both in Cancer. I’m a lunar creature, period.
“Singing The Ending” At this point I knew I was gonna make this a record and I thought, “What kind of song would I want to hear next on a favorite album?” The third track is always a big one. It determines the depth and true direction a record has. This bears the relentless beating heart of the record. I thought it was pretty good, but when I finally nailed that shimmery guitar solo I knew this would be my favorite song for the year to come.
“Run Like The Hunted” In 2011, dissent and that old Promethean spirit of liberation were thick in the air. I wanted to harness that feeling. I actually wrote the skeleton of this back in 2003 the night we invaded Iraq. A blizzard struck that day and I was stranded in my apartment with nothing but the TV images of their “shock and awe” invasion—you can imagine the bummer claustrophobic vibes. I had been singing it around the house again and knew I could turn it into a proper tune. I wanted an anthem in that Springsteen sort of way, it probably sounds like prog-Bauhaus to everyone else. There’s a bit of me seeking community and compassion but only finding apathy. Back in high school when I wore a Smiths shirt and lipstick to assert my identity in a sea of jock core Limp Bizkit and N.W.A. dudes, I wish I had this tune.
“Youth’s Lonely Wilderness” A real summer honey dripping off the lens kind of jam. Lots of jangling guitars and bouncy bass riffs hazed over with some chorused out synths and feedbacking guitars. The music is so laid back but the lyrics are very contemplative of losing a friend unexpectedly...how she’ll stay young forever in our minds.
“The Thirst” Meet my records' Big Bertha, she’s demanding and a bit much to take in, but is a real charming character. Nothing makes life feel as alive as a confrontation with death. Watching everyone around you suffer in someone’s absence. Admiring them for their courage to be so weak, desiring them. A Dionysian trip of sexual exploits and drunken confession. Who knew you could get drums sounding like that with sm57’s? Really all the credit goes to James Kim who was the drummer on most of this record. This gal is stereo bass riff bonanza!
“You & I Are Of The Night” I had originally written those glorious chorus words—”you and I are of the night” for my boy and I, an old "us against the world" kind of thing. Then you look into a stranger’s face and see that they’re of the night too, in fact anyone listening to my record is likely of the night. I wish I could cohesively say what that means, but no sentence is coming to mind off hand. Verses are a Dylan-esque ramble of breaking down the old static mechanistic, patriarchal perspective of life and instead seeing it a more holistic, quantum, integrative sort of way. I like the weird prepared piano intro and outros.
“Lazarus Rising” This was almost an Onlys song, that’s Shayde on bass and Tim on the shaker! (no really, it’s what drives the song, he’s a fantastic percussion player). I knew it would have to be on the record opposite to “Run Like The Hunted”, they’re basically the same rebellious, frustrated with the world as is kind of anthem.
“Badlands” Wrote the chords with Shayde of the Onlys at 7am on a homemade skate ramp in some dude's backyard in San Diego on no sleep and plenty of booze. Sometimes there’s no dignity being in a working rock n’ roll band. Sometimes you feel ashamed of how you have to live a desperate cliche to be a working musician, to navigate the badlands. That’s Greer of the Mallard on bass, working some R&B I could never fake my way into.
“Trapdoors & Ladders” I was walking through the trees of a park in Minneapolis with my wife several paces ahead of me. Dozens of delicate wind chimes were placed on the branches and as the breeze got them whispering my hair stood on end. My wife looked back with tears in her eyes, we both knew we weren’t alone. A critic accused this tune of being the weakest on the album, my “manly” voice and “book of symbols” lyrics overwrought and “corny." Fuck that dude. I’ve never been so literal, honest, and direct in a performance or song. This was read publicly at a trial to convey an experience of loss to the courtroom, and with the empathy and compassion it conveyed to all involved, I’ve never felt so honored.
Wymond Miles plays Saturday, August 18th at Barboza.