Sometimes what you’re looking for is right in front of you.
Sure, the expression is trite, but as far as truisms go, sometimes, well, it just happens to be true. Such is the case with Wildermiss, a promising young band whose name literally reflects this notion and whose story also bears this out.
“We were driving in the Redwood Forrest, and I was looking at my phone, trying to write down band names the whole time,” recalls singer Emma Drae, who coined the name last year on a road trip with drummer Caleb Thoemke. “I was just missing everything. I ‘missed’ the wilderness. So I wrote it down as a joke, and the guys -- we all texted each other our top ten names -- loved it.”
The moniker fit perfectly, just like Drae, who had been in her bandmates' orbit for quite some time, first as a member of Montana Tapwater – an act she had previously played in with guitarist Seth Beamer, classmate from University of Colorado Denver – and later as a collaborator with Red Fox Run, the outfit that directly preceded Wildermiss and featured Thoemke and Beamer, along with guitarist Joshua Hester.
Shortly after Red Fox Run ended and right around the time Drae was finishing her degree, Drae asked the trio to accompany her at a graduation recital. The chemistry was immediate, and two months later, the foursome began writing songs together. After Red Fox Run effectively ran its course, the three members of that group – seasoned musicians who had been playing since they were kids – were ready to move into a different direction.
Turns out, Drae, who had been right in front of them the entire time, was the perfect addition. A gifted vocalist whose expressive voice blends the sublime sensibilities of singers like Ellie Goulding and Hayley Williams, with the powerful strains of Amy Lee of Evanescence, Drae completed the quartet on vocals and synth bass.
Drae started playing synth bass sort of by default -- the outfit needed a bassist to bring out the bottom end but was reluctant to add a fifth member, so she stepped in on synth bass because there was less of a learning curve, she says. Since then, it’s sort of become a signature of the band’s burgeoning sound.
"We love the sound of two guitars. I don't know if we were really looking to add anybody,” says Beamer. “We had talked about who we could add — we know tons of musicians and have tons of friends who could definitely fit the bill — but there was something about the four of us."
"We liked how it gave us this cool, mellow low end,” adds Hester, “and the guitars could do a lot more.”
This willingness to be flexible on the part of Drae is emblematic of the band’s overall approach to making music together, says Hester. “We've always been in service to the song,” he explains. “That's our goal. If we're writing something, it has to be to the benefit of the song, not our own ego. Our rule's always been we leave our ego at the door whenever we go into rehearsal. It's all about the music. It's not about what we're trying to do individually.”
“Yeah, the music is bigger than all of us,” Beamer agrees.
Indeed, judging from the songs the young act has crafted together thus far, this dynamic certainly seems to be in play here. As you see the band barreling down the road in the same direction, you get the sense that each cylinder is firing at exactly the same time.
“We're talking 24-7,” Thoemke confirms. “We always have a group chat going on. We’re texting each other all day, every day. Every decision that’s made, is made by everyone. Everyone's mindset is: this is a career. This is going to be something."
More and more fans seem to agree. Since forming less than a year ago, Wildermiss has quietly been taking the town by storm. Unassumingly serving as an opening act on frequent weeknight gigs, the auspicious act has been steadily making a name for itself with a smart brand of guitar-driven pop rock, which has plenty in common with acts like Local Natives, Echosmith, and Florence and the Machine.
The songs are instantly memorable as much for their melodies as for their meaning -- both of which are equally as integral to the impact of the song, if you ask Hester. "I've always thought lyrics find their validation through melody,” he says. “You can sing the simplest line but if a melody has conviction, then it works better than the most poetic paragraph you can write."
Talk about seeing the forest for the trees.