Simon Jankelson, Martin Solomon, Saul Wodak, Harry Thynne and Dustin Bookatz started making music on a whim. With members coming from a variety of musical backgrounds, WIM is grounded in an array of musical stylings from mostly classic artists. The Australian natives bring together the talent of creative songwriting with haunting folk-rock music. Their mesmerizing choruses overlay dazzling instrumentals. The band releases their self-titled debut album, which features songs that smack of Grizzly Bear, Paul Simon, and Local Natives, with the grunge of classic Oasis. WIM’s performances echo the beauty of their songwriting ,with long sets and raw emotion.
We spoke with Simon and Martin on their accidental band, the character of WIM, and traveling the world.
HOMETOWN: Sydney, Australia
ON MEETING FROM MYSPACE AND MAKING MUSICAL LOVE: [Martin Solomon:] I had been living in Paris for a couple of years. Simon had been traveling the world. We were introduced by mutual friends who sort of liked what we were doing individually. They thought that together we might be able to come up with something interesting. We sort of met and made beautiful, musical love.
[Simon Jankelson:] I sat on my balcony playing Martin some songs. I heard his stuff. He had a little band as well while he was traveling. I heard his stuff on Myspace. I loved his voice. I loved, loved his songs. I loved the way he sang. I had been writing some songs as well. I definitely thought this could just be a great match. I was sitting on my balcony with Martin, playing him some of my music and me just going, “Oh, I hope he likes it!”
[Solomon:] I remember he first played it for me. I was like, “What the hell? Who is this boy that is writing these classics?”
MUSICAL STYLINGS AND THE INSTRUMENT CONUNDRUM: [Jankelson:] I had met them all from a previous band. Originally, before any of this, I was thinking we go double-bass, violins,d and I think it turned out for the best. I asked Dustin, who is a remarkable bassist in Sydney. He also heard my stuff and loved it. He decided to give it a go. Dustin comes from a soul-funk background, but definitely dabbled in all sorts of styles. So, he was up for a new challenge. Harry, we also met through the same friend. That same friend was in New York traveling with us, now that I come to think of it. Harry came in from a very different musical background: a hard-rock background. We had a violinist and cellist, but they didn’t last long. We realized that it wouldn’t be the same band if we didn’t have a guitarist. So, it just all worked out. I think it’s all these different people coming together.
[Solomon:] I suppose our different influences, different world travels, coming from different places and at the same time, strangely, all these amazing connections to each other’s pasts and each other’s families. We also formed this beautiful family thing and this beautiful history that continues. It’s sort of remarkable. We all feel very lucky. It just sort of happened.
THE IMAGINARY WIM: [Solomon:] It was really within the realm of what was really cool at the time. For me, personally, I try to avoid listening to a lot of new music. I don’t really want to know what’s cool and what’s going on. It’s like books. I’d prefer to read classic literature, before I move onto new stuff. There’s just so much to know in the past. This was three or four years ago. We didn’t want any band name that had “wolf” or any animal reference to it, or “club” or “kid.” We didn’t want to be a “the something band.” It took us a really long time to actually work out what the name would be. It took us a really long time to figure out a name. We got to this ridiculous place where we decided that we would sit down all together. We sat down and decided that tonight was the night. Effectively, we all sat down and I had the idea of giving a name influenced by making a character: something that had meaning to us. We knew that we wanted it to be a graphic-looking name. I had been interested in weird, sort of, flippy, palindromic words. We invented this character, “WIM,” who was born in that moment, unformed and yet to develop. We had this idea that this character would grow up in the band. All of a sudden, it was like there was another person in the room. It’s woman. It’s man. It’s the line in-between. For us, this character acts as a really good moral compass for us. Like, you don’t want to do anything that’s going to upset the child.
[Jankelson:] It was hard as well, because there are so many different musical influences in the group as well: different people from different places. How do you come up with a name that unifies an entity, which hasn’t really found itself yet?
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PAST: [Jankelson:] I have to say, I don’t think we were influenced by a huge amount of new music. I think it is really the classics that resonate with us. In that sense, it’s a huge range. Everyone from Paul Simon to Neil Young to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
[Solomon:] Everyone comes from different backgrounds and different musical interests. I feel like we would be a very different sounding band if we didn’t have Harry as our drummer, who sort of comes from this hard-rock background. It is sort of out of element. It’s outside of what was cool at the time. I think it’s cool because there are some things that we do all agree on. Yes, we all love Paul Simon. We all love PJ Harvey. Anything and everything kind of goes, really.
THEIR FIRST CMJ: [Solomon:] CMJ was amazing. I really didn’t know what to expect. We kind of just came in with excitement and joy at the idea of being in New York. For me, how does one stand out from a crowd that large? For us, coming from Australia, where creatively speaking, there’s really great stuff going on. I think the intention behind listening and appreciating live music is very different. For me, and I think I can speak for everyone else in the band, it was amazing to see so many people that were so excited to be at gigs and excited to see new music. It’s amazing for a young band to get that kind of enthusiasm and encouragement: to exist in that kind of environment. It’s exciting.
TAKING OVER THE STATES, AND THEN THE WORLD (MUSICALLY): [Solomon:] We’re off to LA for about 10 days, before we go home. We’re going home for about eight weeks and then we’re doing something exciting back in the states. We’re going to use that as a launching pad. Then we’re going to be New Yorkers.
[Jankelson:] I think Alex [Keating], our manager, said last night, “2012: America; 2013: the world.” That’s career-speak. Musically, we are going to get back home and play a few more shows. We’re going to wrap up our tour here. We hope to do a bit of writing in the future, over the next few months. Like Alex said, come back to the states and continue playing shows. Maybe an extensive tour around March.
WIM’S SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM COMES OUT IN THE US TOMORROW. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.