The Wilderness connects with fans via livestream

Rock band adapts to self-isolation by coming together online

The Wilderness livestream concerts on both Facebook and Instagram.

The Wilderness has proven there’s nothing more rock-and-roll than caring for yourself and others.

All six members of the local band just returned to Kingston after spending 10 days together recording their upcoming album just as public health agencies recommended Canadians start self-isolating. In the space of one day, the band went from sleeping together in the same room to spending days apart, social distancing in their own homes.

Now, as plans for an album release and the band’s first-ever European tour in May are put on indefinite hold, The Wilderness has taken the shift from the stage to the sofa in stride.

The group has embraced the new wave of livestreamed content being produced by musicians stuck at home as a way to stay productive, connect with fans, and most importantly, stay sane.

“As a band, our bread and butter has always been playing live and playing together,” lead vocalist Jonas Lewis-Anthony said in an interview with The Journal. “We took a few days to adjust to the new lifestyle.”

“We’ve been doing a band Skype call every day at two o’clock, just to catch up and see how everyone’s doing. In our daily meetings, we figured [...] since we’ve got nothing but time, let’s just livestream as much content as possible.”

As a result, the band has implemented a regular schedule on both Instagram and Facebook, with the various members taking on new tasks three times a week from their remote locations.

On Mondays, saxophonist Nick Lennox has been breaking down the band’s songs into music lessons for fans, explaining how each song was crafted and analyzing the differences between the album and live performances.

On Wednesdays, Lewis-Anthony has been hosting acoustic concerts out of his bedroom, providing viewers with backstage commentary about the band’s song-writing process.

To round out the week, the band invites their fellow musician friends to call them while they’re livestreaming. During these calls, they interview these musicians on how they’re adapting to social distancing, and hanging out with their fans. This past Friday, they Skyped in South Dakotan musician Rosco Wuestewald, who goes by the stage name of Aage Birch and has previously toured with The Wilderness.

The shift to a more intimate setting has brought the band closer to their fans.

“There’s no lights and no glitz and glamour and there’s no spectacle of putting on a liveshow,” Lewis-Anthony said. “It’s very personable when people can reach out [online] and ask us questions and we can interact with them. It really made me reassess the way that we’ve been doing things on stage. One thing that I’ve always wanted to put across as a band is that we’re no different from anyone else. I’d love to take some of the lessons we’ve learned from doing these livestreams to the live show and just make it an interactive experience to people.”

For now, the band has committed to livestreaming until April 3, but plan to keep it going as long as people are stuck in self-isolation.

“We’ve gotten to the point now where we have [...] a small platform, but a platform nonetheless,” Lewis-Anthony said. “I think it’s a responsibility of ours to use our platform in a productive way and to encourage people to [stay at home]. So if we can stay sane, encourage people to do the right thing, and also entertain people during this time, then that’s a win-win-win.”


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