Wreck Loose is a 4-piece pop-rock group that was born a couple years ago in the ‘Burgh by a group of musicians who were already well-versed in the Pittsburgh scene. Singer and pianist Max Somerville, bassist Dave Busch, guitarist Nathan Zoob, and drummer Derek Kristek produce ’70s-twinged pop-rock that is full and friendly and a sometimes a little funny. Think Ben folds meets Elton John meets Pittsburgh.
The group has made a name for itself with lively performances and a genuine, good-natured spirit. They released their first EP, Well, in 2013, and in the past year have released two singles from the album that they are currently recording. We sat down with the four members, who were giddy from a particularly good practice session, at a coffee shop across the street from their practice space in Lawrenceville.
FoundSound: What was the first song that you wrote?
Max Somerville: It was called “Only You.” It’s always the last song we play. We were in a basement on Chesterfield Avenue where I was living, and Derek actually took a skateboard and put all of his drums on it and hiked it across Oakland and up this really steep hill so he could play drums.
I remember calling my dad- and I was like 21, and I was really high. And I was like, “Hey, hey dad. How yah doing, hey...You know how to modulate a chord? How do you do that, dad?” And he probably had no idea I was high at all but the whole time I was like “uhhh.” So that’s what I remember about that song most, because I wanted to put some weird modulation in it so I called my dad to ask him over the phone how I would do that musically, and of course it didn’t make any sense.
Nathan Zoob: You know, that was probably a really nice moment for him, and now he’s going to read this interview.
MS: Dude, my dad grew up in the 60s. He had real long hair. He rocked out. He knows about it.
FS: So you are recording your new album right now. Can you tell me about it?
NZ: Well the idea is to create a cohesive statement if we can. We have, over the last two years, started writing for the album where we just start out with songs, and then as we were writing started thinking about how we would sequence them. What kind of grand statement are we trying to make with the record? So I think our challenge now is to take these songs that we were writing while we were learning about ourselves as songwriters… And then these songs that we were writing when we were trying to think about themes and statements and a unified whole, and putting both of those together in what seems like a record. Because a record to me, at least personally, stands on its own. It’s a collection of songs that are greater once put together. So that’s what we’re trying to work for. We’re recording at TreeLady studios, up in Turtle Creek.
MS: We wanted to make an album because like Zoob said, we wanted to make a big album to say: This is our stuff. And we were actually thinking about calling the album Okay, Wreck Loose because it’s like Meet The Beatles!, kind of introducing ourselves to the world. But I had thoughts of naming the album I’m Praying That The Next Song Saves My Life – a little bit too wordy, but it’s some of the lyrics in the first song of the album called “Long Time Listener, First Time Caller.”
I was basically holing myself up in my room trying to write these songs, and each one was different. And every time I finished a song I would feel so relieved and so happy. I’ve been writing music my whole life, but when you start writing with three other people it influences your music so much, in a way that is very specific. So I’ve found myself writing rock songs and songs that I didn’t normally write because I knew that I could bring it to the band and it would be awesome. We’re hoping that it sounds cohesive enough, but I think that our sound is going to make all the songs sound similar.
FS: When you are writing a song or melody by yourself do you have a process for how you take it to the rest of the guys when you’re at a rehearsal?
MS: I try to finish as much of the song as I can, just because I am so particular and so crazy and intense when I write. But what happens- Like, we just wrote a song tonight, and I had an idea and kind of a structure, then brought it to these guys and they all just dived on it and created all these new pathways and new structure ideas and things that make the song so much better. That exists because of these guys. I know I can take a song to these guys and it’s gonna be cool when it’s done.
Derek Krystek: Like I’m gonna be truthful. When I first heard it I was like, ‘meh’ but by now this is the most exciting thing. In the past 24 hours Wreck Loose was writing this! You know, coming together and everyone adding their part in these little layers.
FS: What’s an average practice session like with you guys?
MS: We’re recording right now, so we’ve been taking a lot of practice time off to record… We operate the best when we are writing and working towards new stuff. When we’re not it’s like in a lull. As soon as we get that creative juice flowing, then we’ll spend a good two hours on that one tune, picking it apart and making it sound good. Practice is fun, though. We all basically live right in this area.
DK: Zoob lives directly above the space, so it’s like 15 seconds.
NZ: I was thinking of installing a poll.
FS: What are some of your favorite things to do as a band when you’re not living together?
MS: We are all so busy that we don’t get to hang out too much. Like we’re all in different bands; we’re in wedding bands, we’re just working musicians. Zoob and I are in a wedding band, and now Dave is going to be in that band too so in our time off in the band we’re still playing gigs together. But I think that’s kind of how we envisioned ourselves living; just playing all the time and spending your free time writing music, playing music.
NZ: I think it is a really music-centered relationship. Even when we aren’t playing together, which is very rare. Most of the social times I can think of, we’re at a concert.
Dave Busch: Or we’re drinking and talking about music.
DK: I’d also like to include eating. We are also eating.
NZ: But, you know, we rehearse on Tuesdays and maybe if we get out early enough on a Tuesday we’ll go to the Space Exchange and talk about the experience there and watch people that we’re inspired by and bring that inspiration back. But it does all circle back to the band.
FS: What's the name of your wedding band?
NZ: The Bachelor Boys.
FS: What are some of the Pittsburgh groups that you like to see live?
MS: I have not seem them play live, but Delicious Pastries is one of the coolest bands I’ve ever heard. I ran into the drummer at Music Go Round in Monroeville and he was the nicest guy in the world. He gave me his EP and I listened to it for like months straight.
DK: Grand Piano is probably my favorite Pittsburgh band.
FS: What do you think about the Pittsburgh music scene?
MS: Honestly, I have trouble finding bands to play with. We’re a pop band at heart, and there’s a lot of great pop music in the city. I think we kind of have an older '70s vibe to us and I think a lot of the other bands around the town are more folk-rock centric. I’m waiting for a more, like, Elton-John-band that we can vibe with and play around town together with! There are so many great bands. But I would love to find a band in the city that we could team up with. I think that’s my Pittsburgh scene vision thinking for myself and my band, but honestly that’s how I feel.
NZ: I think Pittsburgh is a great incubator because it’s a very comfortable place to live. I mean, there’s a bit of a competitive edge but for the most part it’s a pretty warm scene. Pretty supportive, and I think we all have a Pittsburgh-first attitude. The flipside of that is that without the competition sometimes you don’t get the exciting scene... But we’re now really excited about leaving Pittsburgh- Well, not leaving Pittsburgh but finding other cities and other bands.
FS: Are you going on a tour once you get the album out?
MS: Yeah, we’ve been trying to space out our shows in Pittsburgh to kind of maximize the effect. We only play like every three months, but every time we play we want to have a band from another city play with us and we want to promote it as a big show so that they get a crowd- and we hope that they can return the favor for us. We try to do that with different bands from different cities, so that when we’re planning a tour we’re not just cold-calling venues and bands. We’ll have people that will help us out, and that’s an important thing when touring.
You can see Wreck Loose November 20th at the Rex for a FREE SHOW with The Commonheart, Chet Vincent and the Big Bend, and Meeting of Important People.
And catch them for our next FoundSound Speakeasy series on December 3rd, eating grilled cheese and playing music at James Street.