"You are what you eat," as the expression goes. When the Austin-based band Wild Child took to the road last month, the six members fell into two distinct groups: the few seeking nutritious food on the road, and the many eating anything they could find. It just so happens the healthy eaters are the group's two females, and the lousy scarfers are the four remaining guys. And like their eating habits, this septet's latest album is a mix of healthy, fresh melodies and sugary pop conventions that have just about everyone coming back for seconds.
"I remember seeing The National in Houston, like 10 years ago or so. They played to a crowd of eight or nine kids and they played the dopest show I've ever seen," said Alexander Beggins, one half of the folk pop group's songwriting team. "It didn't phase them one bit that it was nine people. They were like, 'There's nine people here and we're going to give them the best show they've ever seen.' That really stuck with me."
In promoting their second album, The Runaround, Wild Child isn't playing to fans in the single digits, but they do bring an enthralling, high-energy gusto with their cute/painfully-honest brand of folky pop. In fact, after their first album Pillow Talk, their then-stripped-down ukulele and violin pop songs compelled a well-known artist to call them out of the blue and request to be considered as their producer on an upcoming album.
Said Beggins of the event: "It was surreal, I got a call on my phone from an unknown number and he's like, 'Hey man, it's Ben Kweller here and I just want to drop my name in the hat as a potential producer.'" Kweller, a folk-pop legend from Australia, helped the Texas natives wade through the recording process and elevated their ambitious sound.
"He just has so many idea because he's such a seasoned veteran," said Beggins. "There's six of us in the band and we all have a million ideas. It's nice to have an extra voice to solidify decisions."
As Austin natives, Wild Child have watched the SXSW festival grow from a burgeoning up-and-comer gathering to an international showcase of pop music's brightest and best. Beggins and company played the festival eight times this year, and although the yearly festival now lures Lady Gaga and Keith Urban as well as Doritos and Apple, the members of Wild Child aren't looking a gift horse in the mouth.
"It used to be a different thing," said Beggins. "I don't hate it. There's a city full of people who like getting drunk and listening to music. It's kind of a hard thing to bitch about."
On March 29th, Wild Child took over The Echo in Echo Park, bringing their unique folky charm to the eastside haven. Beggins and fellow singer Kelsey Wilson delivered their aching conversational lyrics and distinct ukulele/string arrangements crafted to make the denizens swoon. And yes, at times their tone is saccharine sweet, but that just helps all that clever songwriting medicine go down.
Check out the sureal video for "Crazy Bird":