Listening to Wild Fur’s last album, “Feel Free” (2016), lends itself to a mixture of Indie, folk and electric notes. But it’s the distinctive vocals that hook the ear from the Durham band. Take “Can You See Me,” wherein the singer’s presence is reminiscent of Roy Orbison’s poignant and evocative voice.
“That’s all Wylie [Hunter]—dude can sing!” Wild Fur’s Nick Jaeger observes. “Several people have brought up the Roy Orbison thing, which is funny because I don’t think he hears himself that way, but I love it.”
“I grew up on Roy Orbison,” Hunter reveals. “He has one of those voices that is absolutely haunting and inimitable. I think that haunting quality is certainly part of the vibe we’ve tried to cultivate in Wild Fur.”
Wild Fur is composed of Hunter and Jaeger, who both write, perform and produce their own records. Nevertheless, they’re not just resting on Hunter’s alluring chords. In fact, to produce their full and robust sounds, the two start with arrangements and lyrics before recording anything. Hunter plays drums and Jaeger’s on bass to get a rhythm track and structure in place before they both record harmonic instruments and add vocals.
“When we perform [live] we have a bass player, Nick Stroud, and drummer, Brad Porter,” Jaeger explains. “Wylie and I take on all keyboard and guitar duties. . . . We’ve fallen into what feels like a natural cycle for this next batch of songs.”
While Wild Fur nails down new tunes for their next album, the road will soon bring them back to Satellite Bar and Lounge this Friday. They’ll be joined by Nashville’s Harpooner.
“We played a few shows and festivals with [Harpooner] in the midwest this past summer and they completely blew me away,” Harper tells.
“We love playing Satellite,” Jaeger adds. “They always treat us well and it’s a vibey spot.”
encore spoke with Wild Fur about their sound and future recordings.
encore (e): Tell our readers a little about what unique piece each person brings to the Wild Fur puzzle?
Nick Jaeger (NJ): In my experience of playing with other bands, the greatest lesson I’ve learned is to act in service of the song. We both strive to create parts that are going to work harmoniously with everything else on the track.
Wylie Hunter (WH): I think the experiences we had in our previous projects showed us how important it is to begin something with a clear vision. When we started the project, Nick and I set goals for ourselves creatively that I don’t think we would have even thought of had we not been involved in other projects. We wanted to take songs that stood on their own, and ornament them in new ways that borrowed from a variety of different styles and genres. The years leading up to the formation of Wild Fur, Nick and I had each been the creative engine of other bands, and I think that experience made it possible for us to communicate, clarify and get behind a vision. [It] laid out a clear direction in which we wanted to move forward.
e: What are some other influences Wild Fur have embraced thus far?
WH: When I was younger I listened to a lot of Springsteen, who I know was also heavily influenced by Orbison and has that similar sort of vibrato. It took a lot of years to find what I would call my own voice, but for Wild Fur my aim is to simply serve the songs with my singing the same as with any instrument.
NJ: In terms of other influence, we try to not let any one thing have too much of a hold over what we’re trying to do. That is also reflected in the way I listen to music. For example, this past week I [couldn’t] stop listening to the Dylan song “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” and “Know Your Enemy” by Rage Against the Machine. Both songs are similar topically but incongruous in presentation. I like to let combinations of genres stew and see what inspiration may come from them.
e: You mentioned writing songs to start recording this winter. Can you elaborate a little?
WH: At this point, I think all I can really say is there are quite a lot of them, and I’m very excited about the direction they are taking. We’ve been demo-ing new material since, essentially, the day our last record came out. The next few months we’ll be making big decisions on which songs will actually be on the record, and putting them together in a way that makes sense.
I’d say as a whole they are more outward-looking than our previous releases. There’s a lot going on in the world right now that’s hard to ignore. We’re both in a place creatively where we feel a need to process some of that.
NJ: When I start a song, I’m trying to write lyrics that come across the way I would say something verbally. I want the lyrics to feel natural; as though you’re having a conversation with a friend about what is going on in the world around you. This particular batch of songs have been a vehicle for my thoughts and feelings about being a modern person in the modern era.
e: Are you playing them live currently?
NJ: We’ve been playing “Million Dollar Hashtag,” which is a modern-day murder ballad. At least that was the intention. It’s about someone who got filthy rich doing nothing and dies due to their own self-importance. I think we’re going to start playing another one at these at upcoming shows, “Say It, Do It,” which stemmed from several conversations I had with my wife over the summer about the infuriating bullshit women are subjected to—just by crossing paths with unevolved ego/sex-driven males.
WH: We generally tend to wait until a song is fully finished, and we have a demo recorded, before bringing it to the live band. That’s mostly for the simple reason that a lot of the writing and arranging we do happens during the demo-recording process.
e: How might you continue to evolve on the next album?
NJ: I think we’re going to take a new approach. For “Feel Free” we did the whole thing on our own, and it was a great experience, but I think we’re going to record [the next record] elsewhere. I think the current plan is to finish our demos, and go to Nashville and work with Logan Matheny and Jeff Crawford, whom I’ve known for years—and used to play with in Roman Candle.
WH: As far as content is concerned, I think it’s a less introspective collection of songs, though it still feels very personal. I also think we’re branching off in several different directions genre-wise that we haven’t really touched on so far. There are rawer rock songs we’re working on, for example, which I think have come about as a result of how much time we’ve spent touring and playing live the past year.
e: Will you explore any new soundscapes, instrumentals or approaches?
NJ: I think getting in a new room with new people working on new songs will bring about something exciting for us. We used to have the phrase “anything goes” as a descriptor on our website . . . meaning try new ideas, even if it’s unorthodox.
WH: Whenever we sit down to work on something new, we generally try to approach it with two things in mind: Firstly, if the song doesn’t stand on its own, it doesn’t matter how we arrange or ornament it. Secondly, we are not beholden to any sort of sounds or instrumentation. We arrange for the individual song, even if that means we have to figure out later how to play that arrangement in a live setting. So we’re always exploring new sounds and ways of using instruments in that sense.