Take me back to Tulsa
Wilderado comes home
Wilderado plays Nov. 29 at the BOK Center along with The 1975, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and more at The Edge’s Black Friday show.
Indie rockers Wilderado have been steadily climbing toward fame since launching the band in 2015. The quartet has released three critically acclaimed EPs, recorded an Audiotree Live session and toured with the likes of Lindsey Buckingham, Band of Horses, and Judah & the Lion.
Although the band formed in Los Angeles, they recently relocated to frontman Max Rainer’s hometown of Tulsa to write and record a new album. I talked to Rainer about coming home, touring and the future of Wilderado before the band opens for The 1975, Catfish and the Bottlemen and more at The Edge’s Black Friday show on Nov. 29 at the BOK Center.
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Kyra Bruce: Hey, how are you? Are you excited to be coming back to Tulsa soon?
Max Rainer: Oh yeah, so excited. I’m great. I’m tired!
Bruce: Could you tell me a bit about your history with Tulsa? You grew up here, right?
Rainer: Yeah, I grew up in Tulsa then left in 2007 to go down to Waco, Texas, and stayed there for like five years and then went out to Los Angeles and we just moved back to Tulsa in February of 2017. So we’re getting ready to have our two-year return home anniversary!
Bruce: Were you doing music in Tulsa while you were here, or did that come later?
Rainer: No, not at all … That’s why it’s been so fun being back home in Tulsa and having the band come down to rehearse, write and record there and in Norman. But the band started in Los Angeles, so we did L.A.’s circuit of all the shows you do there, and then we’ve been on the road. So we’ve only played in Tulsa like three times.
Bruce: How do your band mates feel about coming down to Tulsa to write and record?
Rainer: Oh, they love it! It’s really fun because they’re Texas boys, so there’s always been a fun under-the-table rivalry.
Bruce: I was watching some of your other interviews and your connection to Tulsa seems to really fascinate interviewers in L.A.
Rainer: Yeah, it’s honestly a lot more fun. We spent the first few years touring and talking to people and saying the band is from L.A., and then I moved home and I just felt like A.) that wasn’t true, and B.) it just makes much more sense to say we’re from Tulsa. That’s where we want to be from—if the band gets any attention, I would much rather that be redirected to Tulsa than L.A. And I love L.A., we’ve got family there, but it just feels much more authentic to say we’re from Tulsa. And, you know, anyone who knows music knows about the impact Tulsa has had on the music world, especially in the early ‘70s.
Bruce: You guys are coming back to open for The 1975 and Catfish and the Bottlemen for The Edge’s Black Friday show at the BOK Center on Nov. 29. How does that feel?
Rainer: It’s crazy! I can see the arena from my backyard, so I’m really excited to play it. My daughter and I drive past it every morning when I take her to school and she’ll say ‘There’s where you’re gonna work!’ But yeah, we’re obviously really excited. The size of a room we play really determines the volume we get to put out so it’s a lot of fun to be able to turn my amp up and play really loud—just totally rock it.
What’s really weird though is having not played Cain’s, having not played Brady, and then going straight to opening for someone at BOK. It seems so upside-down.
Bruce: You guys have opened for some huge acts before. What’s it like to try to win over a crowd that is waiting for a huge name like Lindsey Buckingham?
Rainer: We’ve played so many more supports than headlining shows, so really it’s the headlines that are just a bit off. You feel more insecure, I would say, because you’re more responsible for the night: the show, ticket sales, all that.
We honestly feel grateful anytime we get to play support because we understand what we’re doing is trying to grow, and you’re basically playing a marketing show. It’s like free marketing that we’re getting paid to do. It’s easy to get in your head about how only a few people are there to see us, but mostly we just look at it as another opportunity to play, try to get better, and learn from whoever we’re with and meet new people.
Bruce: Has a band you’ve played with ever given you a nugget of wisdom or advice that you carry with you?
Rainer: Every one of them. … There isn’t really a hierarchy to music, but there are people who have done it for much longer and on a much larger scale, and there is always something to learn from that. Lindsey [Buckingham] was really cool to us. He came in several times and talked to us and gave us advice … and I’ve learned so much from Mt. Joy. I’ve learned stuff from Judah. I’ve learned stuff from Band of Horses. I mean, everybody. Whether we’ve learned something from observing their shows or sitting down with them, everyone is just full of little nuggets to apply.
And most of the time it’s life stuff. I always try to seek out people who have families and children who are touring away from home. I’m always so curious about how they adapt and how they make their families feel paid attention to. No one knows what this is like except the people doing it, so anytime you get to be around other people who are doing it, it’s kind of invaluable.
Bruce: What’s next for Wilderado?
Rainer: We’ve got a lot of recording to finish up with Chad Copelin in Norman at Blackwatch Studios. We’ll finish this string of dates through December and then hopefully finish this record in the first part of the year. We just put out a new song, “Surefire,” a month ago and it’s doing well. We’re pretty patient about releasing new music. We don’t feel the need to just have music come out as soon as possible. We like to see what a song can do and what sort of attention it can get—and once the hype for it starts going down, that’s when we feel like it’s time to release new music.
Bruce: Well I can’t wait to see y’all back in town!
Rainer: Hopefully I’ll see you at the show.