Things have been picking up for New Bedford, Massachusetts' A Wilhelm Scream. Following the conclusion of their deal with Nitro, the boys signed to Paper + Plastick and released their self-recorded, self-produced, and self-titled EP. The EP was an immediate hit finding itself on several top-records/EPs-of-the-year lists. After a marathon run playing Soundwave in Australia, Sean Jain dialed-up guitarist/co-vocalist Trevor Reilly and chatted with him about Wilhelm's upcoming Canadian tour with Outbreak, the Soundwave experience, plans for a new album, and the creative engine that drives A Wilhelm Scream.
So you guys just finished up Soundwave in Australia as well as a show in New Zealand, how did those go?
Man it was the best ever (laughs). Definitely one of the best tours ever. Every time we go to Australia we always say that when we come home, but this timeâcloud nine. The shows were incredible, the people were awesome and so receptive, everybody was singing-along, nobody was inhibited at any of the shows. Nobody was afraid or embarrassed to get down and party, and it was rad. Dude, there were so many awesome bands thereâFaith No More was incredible, Janeâs addiction, Paramore was awesome, Sunny Day Real Estate was amazing, I can go on and on, Anvil was insane. I lit the drummer of Anvilâs joint for him which was awesome.
While he was playing?
No actually, after they had played. Like, one of the last shows we were scrambling, we were like, "Alright, weâve gotta find all the bands we havenât seen, weâve gotta check âem out today!" So we went and saw AnvilâI figured there be mad bands on stage and stuff watching them but there was nobody, not like, one person. I was like, "Screw this," so we brought our crew and you know, we rolled really deep to Soundwave we rolled with like, a tour manager, a sound-guy, and a videographer, it was like eight of us. We taped the whole thing. Ben Thornley came with us, taped the whole thing and got awesome footage. He basically went with us to everything we did. Every day for us was action packed. But yeah, our whole crew went on stage, checked out Anvil and it was amazing. They were slaying it, this guy did like a five minute drum soloâ¦he looked at the side of the stage and weâd make eye contact with all the dudes in the band and be like, "Hell yeah!" and then theyâd, you knowâ¦bust out some crazy solos. It was a great rock experience, it was inspiring, it was almost inspiring as being on the tour in the first place. So yeah, smoked with him later on told him what I thought of his set. Super sweet dudes.
So you guys taped the whole Soundwave adventure?
Yeah, Ben Thornley, he did a bunch of videos for us. He did the, "5 to 9" video, "I Wipe My Ass with Showbiz," "Die While Weâre Young" video, and most recently our, "Fun Time" video. Heâs from Bolton, England and heâs just so talented and heâs done so much for us over the years so when we got the opportunity to go over we were like, "Hey Ben, howâd you like to come out to Australia?" and heâs like, "Oh yeah, good on ya," and weâre like, "Fuck yeah man, come on out!" It was great that we got the opportunity to bring him out to paradise, cause, I know that in England it was snowing and freezing, and I know that in New Bedford, Massachusetts it was the same deal, snowing and freezing, and Iâm feeling it nowâ¦my whole headâ¦it feels like Iâm underwater right now.
Yeah, I guess you went from warm summer weather to cold winter weather.
Oh dude, it was like, ninety-eight degrees every day. Perth was over 100. It was brutal, but we all got tans, we got to stay in some really nice hotels so a lot of us got up early and went and worked out in the gymâ¦it was a good feeling.
I think the whole experience was definitely a recharge. While I was out there, a bunch of ideas for songs came up and I was working on songs that I already had in the fire, it was just like, I dunno, that tour came at a great time. Like, in the dead of winter, letâs go to paradise for a couple months, play some awesome shows, hang out with some awesome bands, have some fun, and meet some cool people. We finally met the Four Year Strong guys, kicked it with them quite a bitâsuper nice dudes. I canât believe we hadnât met them yet, they live like an hour from here. But yeahâ¦just awesome.
So yeah, going back to Ben, is some of his footage going to end up in a music video or a DVD?
Definitely. What Ben had in mindâof course, I think he had a good idea of what he wantedâbut the thing about Ben is, his cameraâs always on. So you never know when heâs filming. Itâs not like heâs filming embarrassing stuff because, you know, we never act like dicks or anything so weâre not worried about getting captured as dicks you know? But like, he just catches us at every moment on tour and I think it will really show thatâin his videos thatâwe really enjoy each otherâs company. I really think that thatâs going to come through and I think thatâs really the most important theme about it all. I guess when you set out to do a video, you knowâ¦Iâve never directed a video, but Iâve spoken to Ben a lot about this kind of stuff âcause Iâm very interestedâbecause heâs so talented, you know what I mean? I want to know what makes him tick. So I was like, "Ben you know, whatâs it like, do you have an idea of what you want it to be?" What I learned from Ben was that, you get everything, then you watch the footage later, and then you say, "Okay, thatâs what weâve been gettingâ¦thatâs the story." I guess your footage tells you what the story is and then you just follow it and tell the best story you can.
Weâve worked with each other so much that itâs so normal for you to be talking to somebody and have a camera, you know what I mean? Itâs so automatic at this point, because weâre so comfortable with Ben, being such great friends with him. The new thing this time though, was that Ben would take us individually and interview us so heâd have some dialogue to go over a lot of the footage that he was making, which is something that we havenât really done before. Some of the questions that he asked me were like, "Tell me about Ray, tell me how you met Ray"âRay being our manager. You know, we all started doing this whole music-biz-thing together and heâs always been in our corner so, you can imagine all the sappy, corny shit I said about one of my best friends. So, Ben definitely got some of the real stuff, I think itâs going to be really cool, and weâve done so much footage with Ben that weâre stockpiling so much stuff that, when Wilhelm does come out with a DVD itâs gonna be epic. When we do finally put something out itâs just gonna be something that, hopefully, really takes advantage of whatever medium is hot. If itâs still Blu-ray then weâll be doing something to capitalize on everything that Blu-ray can do.
So you guys have a tour coming up with Outbreak across central and eastern Canada, what are you looking forward to most?
We love coming to Canada. Itâs great to be going up with Outbreak, theyâve got some serious ballsâmusically, you know, and we love playing with bands like that. I think its going to be a great tour, man. Iâm really looking forward to watching all the bands every night. Weâre definitely the type of band that we want to start the show, we want to have a beer right away, we want to watch the first band right away, we want our experience,âour partyâto lastâ¦we want to start at seven and end at whenever. We want to end at question mark. Thatâs my long way around of saying that Iâm stoked.
Canada is such a huge country from end to end and you guys have toured all over it…what is your favorite and least favorite parts to drive?
To drive, I would say the least favorite part to drive is right in the middle there where youâve got to watch out for all the moose. Thatâs pretty scary. Iâm knocking on wood right now. I donât wish any band to see any moose or anything like that. I hope all the bands out there really pay attention, make sure that thereâs more than one person awake, make sure the guy riding shotgun isnât sleeping, make sure that youâre alert when youâre driving the middle of Canada because those moose are fucking bionic dude. Their legs alone are like, six and a half feet tall, itâs like a car going by as slow as he feels like going. I definitely almost plowed into one of those things at four in the morning and if that had happened, if I hadnât pounded four coffees that night, we might have, then you might be interviewing me about something else!
Thatâs definitely the hairiest. The most pleasant, the best place to driveâI like driving on the West coast. Either extreme coasts I dig. I love the East coast as well and this tourâs going to be taking us to some really East coast places like north, I think weâre going pretty far up north too.
Yeah I think you guys are going to places like Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
Yeah! Totally,â¦places we havenât been in a long time, so Iâm really looking forward to go out there because I know thereâs a lot of beautiful country out thereâ¦thereâs a lot of sweet stuff to see.
Do you have a favorite Canadian beer?
Beer? Umâ¦I used to always love Kokaneeâ¦that was like the first beer that we had. Weâve been going to Canada, you know, since well before we were of legal age to drink in America. So, one of the first beers that I drank in a bar was Kokanee being eighteen years old or nineteen years old. Iâve always loved Kokanee since then. Is Alexander Keithâs Canadian as well?
Yes it is.
Yeah I like that one too (laughs). I like all the Canadian beers, theyâre all strong and theyâre all frosty and cold and thatâs all I can really ask for, you know?
Whatâs your favorite song to play live off the new EP?
We started playing, "Fun Time" and thatâs a real blast, but I gotta say, "Skid Rock" is the funnest just because that song really plays to all of our strengths. Brian gets to do his crazy tapping thing, and we finally unleash Mikeâs guitar solo fury. I think thatâs the most fun right now. Seeing the looks on the crowds facesâ when we start playing it, up until the very end. And thatâs not a really short song you know? Itâs kind of a lengthy, four-minute, song and it keeps peoples attention.
I understand you guys have a die-cut, gatefold vinyl version of your recently released EP coming out…is it going to be available on this tour?
I hope so. It was supposed to be done months ago. Iâm glad you asked that because a lot of people have been asking like, "Wasnât that supposed to come out in November?" We had everything ready, we had all the artwork and everything ready to go but since, like you said, we had die-cutsâ¦this was the first release where we had the intention was for it to be on LP and then we were going to toss the CD inside it so the kids can go into their car and listen to it right there. We were just going to include the CD for free. The way it ended up working out was, we were always on tour so Vinnie was like, "Alright, weâll get some CD copies for you guys to hold the fans over." So thatâs why weâve had these CD tour copies and also the version from Greece and the version from Germany, and the version from Australia, and weâve had all those CDs and stuff but weâve yet to see the vinyl. I canât confirm or deny that weâll have them for this tour but if we can make it happen, weâll definitely have them. I guess though, it takes a while for vinyl to be manufactured and with all the shit that we have with itâwe pulled out all the stops on it because we were like, "Itâs just going to be on LP? Okay what sorts of wacky shit can we do with vinyl? Alright, letâs do it," and apparently if you want vinyl to play backwards on the back in a special spot then it takes like an extra month and a half to make sure that you do that. So when it finally does come out thereâs going to be all kinds of fun wacky shit going on. I canât wait to see it myself, Iâm really stoked on it.
So with all your future touring coming up, Harvest of Hope, Canada, and Europe with Pennywise and Strike Anywhere, are there any plans to head back into the studio this year and do a full-length?
Yeah. The short answer is yeah. While we were on this tour, we got offered a couple other tours, and luckily for us, those tours are going to be just outside the time that weâre giving ourselves to write and record, so I think weâre kind of looking at June and July as really going for it, but like June and July kind of fragile (laughs). Weâre hoping to be home for the summer because we havenât been in a while and I think it would be pretty sweet to record an album in the summer.
Yeah totally, in your home town, when its beautiful and sunny out.
Hell yeah. I mean, the ideas are there, weâve got like tons of ideas and Iâve got tons of lyric ideas just flooding up in me. Weâre all in a great place right now and when youâre in a great place mentally the songsâ¦I mean, youâll have more songs then youâll know what to do with.
Any idea if any of the songs from the EP will end up on the full-length?
Thatâs a good question because my whole intention for the song, "Fun Time" was to kind of have one version where its very stripped down with me singing it, and more of like a rock vibe. Like imagine if I was the lead singer of the band, the band would sound quite different, because Nuno is so much the voice of Wilhelm, even though itâs a lot of my work that heâs singing. Itâs his personality, itâs his voice thatâs on the songs. When a lot of these songs start, especially since I have the advantage of having a studio, I would do different versions of the songs just to get them written and then bring them to Wilhelm and then we give the Wilhelm sound to it.
I didnât know that you wrote a lot of the lyrics, thatâs pretty cool.
Yeah, I always have. Iâve always done the lionâs share of the writing for the band going back a long time. But yeah, what I was saying about the, "Fun Time" thing, I did an acoustic version. Basically I wrote the song the night before and I recorded it the next morning so it was kind of imperfect. So I made a CD of it and I passed it along and the guys were like, "Man I really love that song." So I was like, "Alright, letâs try it." So we did our version which was like, a medium-speed version whereas the original, when I wrote it, was like, "Whoa this guy is gonna fucking kill himself," you know? It sounds like Iâm very bummed. Its like, Iâm singing about, "All day long, I sing this song, and itâs driving me insane." And it sounds like Iâve got a razor in my hands while Iâm singing these happy words.
Thatâs interesting, the version on the EP sounds pretty upbeat. Thereâs like a whole other side to it.
(laughs). Yeah I mean, the original version is called, "Super Happy Fun Time." The Wilhelm version is called, "Fun Time," and Iâm sure the demo version will come out eventually and that will be called, "Super Happy Fun time," and when you hear it, youâll see why. It can be a bit of a downer, but a catchy downer (laughs).
When I write songs and I bring them to the band, a lot of them end up sounding very alternative-rock just because thatâs a lot of the stuff that really comes naturally to me. Like the Dinosaur Jr. in me comes out. In a lot of interviews, people will say, "What do the guys bring to the band?" and Iâll say, "The guys bring to the band what the band is, because the band is the band. The band is what makes our sound." I might have made the arrangement, I might have made the words, the melody, whatever, but regardless of all that shit, what your hearing is personalities of all five guys and what it sounds like when we play together. As I get older, I continually see how so many bands donât work that way, how so many bands they go from the direction of just one guy and thatâs fucking sad. Thatâs fucking sad to me, because youâre cheating every body out of some beauty that can really go down. Honestly, I feel like I have that best musicians in the world in my band and Iâd be a complete fool not to let the beauty that comes out of their finger tips enhance my songs.
Iâll be honest, I didnât know that you wrote most of the songs as well.
Well weâre in a new age, weâre definitely in a new age. Weâve come out of the whole age where everyone checked out the liner notes, because a lot of people are just hearing the band on the mp3âs and you donât get all that informationâ¦you donât know whoâs recording it. That was like the magic of the beginning of my love affair with music, reading all the liner notes. You know, like "Who the fuck is this guy," "What does a producer do?" Those were questions that I had way early on and I feel like a lot of kids donât really get that but Iâm kind of digressing, go on.
So basically you stitch the skeleton together and then the rest of the band get together and add the, "body."
Yeah, exactly. You know how I relate to it, I basically relate to it like this, somebodyâs gotta drive this fucking bus. Somebodyâs got to drive it and thatâs not always the fun part. But for me, it really is fun. Itâs kind of like directing, like pointing things in a directionâthatâs going to stoke me out and make me finish songs. Itâs something that will give me that spark or that motivation and in order to do that, you really have to make yourself receptive to what everybodyâs doingâto what Nick does on the drums. If he does something a little bit different, I do something a little bit different right along with him. Thereâs no room for real stubbornness and if Iâve got to be stubborn, then Iâll take twelve and a half minutes to explain why I feel we should do it a different way. I mean, Iâve been playing with these guys for so long that that they trust me. They trust me so much, weâve done so many records this way together, that we all know what weâre good at and I really donât mind the guys looking to me for where to go next, because I owe it to them to have an idea. At the same time, they owe it to themselves, and to me, and to the whole band to rock the fuck out and stoke each other out and get everybody psyched.
And thatâs how you make good records right?
Thatâs how you make great records. Thatâs the whole secret right there, thatâs the magicâ¦itâs not a guy in his room alone, believe me. Iâve definitely been that guy aloneâ¦like the Ruiner record, our second record. Thatâs a guy in a room alone, and I gotta say, sure that came out good, but if I did that part 2, that would be a really bad record. It would be really bad and Iâm the first one to admit it. Iâm not going to go into a room, alone, and write a record again because I might not come out of that room. (laughs) They might carry me out of that room.
As I get older, you know, Iâve found out that there is enough room for everyoneâs ideas and I really try to nurture everybodyâs ideas to make everybody not afraid to bring up ideas because I know how daunting it is to bring your idea in front of four people. Even if theyâre four of your brothers, its not always that easy.
Alrighty, last question, how do you respond to allegations that your new EP has been melting off peoplesâ faces?
(laughs) Oh man, I donât know if you can make the New England accent come out in print but all I can say to that is, "Guilty as charged."