The Wilderness finds its home with first full-length studio album

Indie-rockers worked with The Tragically Hip’s Rob Baker on ‘Until Tomorrow’

The Wilderness is excited to get back to touring after the pandemic.
Supplied by The Wilderness
Working with the acclaimed Bathouse studio was a dream come true for The Wilderness, but releasing their first album during a pandemic never factored into their plans. 
The Journal spoke to Jonas Lewis-Anthony, lead singer and rhythm guitarist, and Liam Neale, keyboardist and percussionist, about the band’s first full-length album, Until Tomorrow, which was produced by lead guitarist of The Tragically Hip, Rob Baker. 
Before meeting Baker, The Wilderness had most of the demos for their new songs finished.  
“We had most of the songs…completely done and rehearsed really well so we knew them backwards and forwards,” Neal said, “but at least four or five of the songs weren’t fully done. They were written but we hadn’t played them together as a full band.”
According to Neale, one of the biggest challenges about this album compared to their last EP, Seminary Road, was having a tight deadline and needing to make song-writing decisions on the fly. 
“We bit off almost more than we could chew by trying to crank out nine songs in 12 days,” Neale continued.
“We had to learn things on the spot. For example, the song “Fire and the Wolves,” only half of the band had actually played through it by the time we went into track. The first time I had ever played the piano part, they stuck the music in front of me and said, ‘Okay, time to start recording.’” 
This production style lends their tracks the spontaneity of their live performances, combined with the layered complexity and sound quality of a major studio like The Bathouse, located in Bath just outside of Kingston. 
“That kind of pressure was really cool because it forced everyone to be on their A-game and really, really give the best that they had, and I think that’s reflected in the record,” Neale said.  
“A lot of the lyrical content was deeply personal to all of us,” Lewis-Anthony said. “Having to go and spill your guts into a microphone and pick those songs apart was also really challenging, but it was super rewarding being able to work with Rob Baker as the producer, who basically made us feel like better musicians.” 
When asked how they got the opportunity to work with Baker, Lewis-Anthony laughed, “Luck, man.” 
“Honestly, it was luck,” Neale added. “We did a writing session in Quebec in January and that was when 90 percent of the album was written and we started reaching out to studios after that.”
Lewis-Anthony said, “We sent Rob a few demos that we recorded in my bedroom as a sort of Hail Mary, and he loved them.”
A couple days later, the band met Baker at NORTHSIDE espresso + kitchen, right next to the McDonald’s on Princess St., to grab a coffee and discuss their plans for the album.  
According to Lewis-Anthony, while The Wilderness was excited by the prospect of working with Baker, they were uncertain how their meeting would go. 
“We thought he would assess the situation and maybe see if he wanted to work with us or not,” he said, “but it was very clear that his mind was made up and he wanted to work on the project.”
Although Neale and Lewis-Anthony insisted it was all luck, their tracks speak for themselves, and the facilities at The Bathouse were up to par with what the band deserves. 
“The Bathouse is just a legendary studio. The equipment and instruments that we had at our disposal on the record were just incredible, and we wouldn’t have been able to see that anywhere else,” Lewis-Anthony said.  
On Sept. 5, The Wilderness aired on BBC Music Introducing for the first time with their track “If I Have to Die,” which was an amazing experience for all of them, but especially for Lewis-Anthony, who grew up in the UK. 
“I discovered many of my favourite bands, to this day, through BBC Introducing,” 
Lewis-Anthony said. “I grew up listening to that radio, and then to have one of our songs on there was just mind blowing.” 
Working on Until Tomorrow was a wonderful and surprising experience for The Wilderness, but with the COVID-19 pandemic hanging over the album’s release, the group can’t help but feel a little short-changed. 
“All of our touring plans have been canceled or postponed, but we would love to get back to The Bathouse,” Lewis-Anthony said. 
“We’ve all decided that we want to record our next [album] there just because the experience was so amazing. The more time we can spend in that studio the better.”

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