Into the depths of Wildlife

Wildlife’s new album reflects the freedoms and inevitable restrictions that come after graduation

Wildlife found their bass player Dwayne Christie off a posting on Craigslist.
Wildlife found their bass player Dwayne Christie off a posting on Craigslist.
Supplied by Brendan Ko

Dean Povinsky wasn’t about to let surgery keep his band, Wildlife, from their most extensive cross-country tour to date.

The guitarist and lead singer tore his Achilles tendon on stage during a July performance in Ottawa and has since undergone two surgeries. He said members of the band were all moving around on stage and he can’t remember what really happened.

“People who haven’t seen us before, they obviously don’t notice the difference in performance,” Povinsky said. “[But] I can’t help but be affected mentally just because I’m used to running around the stage like crazy and I have a cast that I have to be in so I can’t move around too much.”

The Toronto band is back in Ontario, after weeks of touring in B.C., Alberta, Chicago and Minneapolis. They’re scheduled for 42 shows across Canada and a few in the U.S. The set list features tracks from their debut album Strike Hard, Young Diamond.

The album was released in Canada in November 2010. It’s purposefully raw. Most of the tracks were recorded live off the floor.

“The goal of the record was to try and capture the live sound of the band, Povinsky said. “We wanted to have a certain rawness to it and then pair that with the studio creativity.” Plans for release dates in the U.S. and the U.K. are ongoing.

The five-man band started recording the upbeat alternative-rock album in August 2009. For Povinsky, Strike Hard, Young Diamond is about the period in his life after he graduated from Queen’s with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2005.

“It’s about being young and the things that you do and the decisions that you make when you’re careless and carefree and you don’t have any restrictions on your life,” he said. “Then the acknowledgement that that part of your life doesn’t necessarily last forever.”

The band works with a reoccurring aquatic theme on songs like “Stand in the Water” and “Sea Dreamer” as well as a photo of a beach on the album cover.

“It’s a metaphor for adventure and it’s a metaphor for the unknown and it can be a means of going somewhere,” Povinsky said. “But at the same time it can represent the darkness and the depth of things people don’t understand.”

The upcoming show at the Mansion will be Wildlife’s second time playing in Kingston. Despite their status as Queen’s alumni, Povinsky said the band’s members haven’t always been welcome.

“I was banned from the Grad Club for about a year,” he said, adding that Wildlife hasn’t been able to book a show at the campus bar. “I don’t know if that’s over anything unsettled.”

Povinsky said he was banned in 2003 from the venue for “something involving a fire extinguisher.”

Grad Club manager Virginia Clark has been responsible for booking live shows at the venue for 11 years. She said she doesn’t remember the incident.

“There have been a lot of incidents with fire extinguishers,” Clark said.

Wildlife plays a free show at the Mansion on Oct. 13 at 10 p.m. with Hollerado and the Pack AD.

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