Q&A: Indie Rock’s Best-Kept Secret, The Wrecks, Knock on Stardom With Their ‘Panic Vertigo’ EP

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If I had a dollar for every young band that withered away into retirement after failed attempts at rock stardom, I would revive the discontinued Hot Cheetos Asteroid snacks from my childhood. Unfortunately, The Wrecks don’t seem like they’re willing to contribute a single cent to my dreams.

In 2015, the Thousand Oaks-bred, Los Angeles-based indie rock band with heavy influences from The Pixies, The Strokes, and Weezer, snuck into a recording studio to self-produce their debut EP, We Are The Wrecks. Since then, the band has secured a number of nationwide tours while opening for bands such as All Time Low, Paramore, and Nothing But Thieves. With the recent addition of a successful, sold out headlining tour to top off their impressive resume, The Wrecks have finally released their long-awaited sophomore EP Panic Vertigo

We managed to catch The Wrecks frontman, Nick Anderson, and guitarist, Nick “Schmizz” Schmidt, for a casual interview with Ones to Watch. During this conversation, we learn why the EP was delayed, how the band thrives on tour, and which member would survive a robot apocalypse. 

Pick up your tickets to The Wrecks’ current tour with New Politics and Dreamers here.

OTW: Only days after meeting everyone in-person for the first time, you guys snuck into a studio and finished recording your debut EP in 3 days. How did that work?

Nick: I already had a handful of songs written, and that’s kind of how I got the guys to join the band. I was like “Here, these are what the new songs are, and this is what the band I’m starting is going to sound like,” and they were down for it.

OTW: Can you guys briefly take us through the creative process for your new Panic Vertigo EP? How was it different from your first EP?

Nick: Well, these songs were written mainly by - you can go by Schmizz in the interview.

Schmizz: S C H M I Z Z

Nick: We originally recorded the new EP right after we signed our record deal and had a budget. The label put us in a studio, and we got to pick a producer, but we’ve never worked with one before so it was an interesting process. When we began, we had no idea what we were doing with our producer and we didn’t have a vision for our sound as a band. We went down this rabbit hole for three weeks. When we first finished with the producer, we thought these songs were dope, and then our managers came in the last day and were like, “What did you do to the songs? These are so weird and not good.” And immediately when they say that, the curtain gets pulled back and you’re like, “Oh my god, yeah these songs are not what we want the band to sound like.” After that, we tried to salvage the songs but we realized that we had to redo them completely. So we threw away the EP, had no more budget left, and we were pretty much out of money. The whole band moved into my grandma’s house in the middle of nowhere: Wellsville, New York.

Schmizz: It’s a miserable place, truly.

Nick: When we moved there, we drove 45 minutes every day to our friend Patrick’s studio, and we recorded in this barn. He had a studio in his barn, and we decided to do everything ourselves. We woke up every day and ran to the studio to explore what we wanted to sound like on our own without looking for someone else’s approval. I feel like we’ve finally found our answer and we’re really proud of it.

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OTW: So do you guys prefer working WITHOUT a producer now?

Schmizz: Well, it just has to be the right one.

Nick: Sometimes, working with a producer really works, and the right one can take your songs and blow them out of the water. But for us, as far as establishing what we wanted to sound like, we have the ability to produce the songs on our own so why not do that?

OTW: It sounds like you guys have been sitting on this EP for a while then.

Nick: Yeah! Because of the whole situation where the EP fell through the first time, we’ve been sitting on it for a long time. Surprisingly, when we perform the songs live, so many fans know the songs already because they find the YouTube live versions and we really owe it to those people.

OTW: The Wrecks recently opened for Paramore and Dashboard Confessional, how was that whole experience?

Schmizz: So sick. I crowd surfed for my first time and got waaay too drunk.

Nick: We had this part in our song “Turn It Up” where our tour manager Lauren grabbed Schmizz’s guitar and I grabbed our bassist’s bass and they both ran out and crowd surfed while Lauren played the guitar for the last chorus, and I played the bass. It was really fun. A huge show. We love the Rave! Shoutout to Leslie, the owner of the Rave, giving us the tour and everything.

OTW: How was it different from sharing the stage with All Time Low?

Nick: Mm, pretty similar but I feel like the show with Paramore and Dashboard Confessional was bigger because it was a radio show. It’s always a bit more exciting when it’s a one-day event cause you’re not on tour. When you’re on tour, it can get repetitive.

OTW: What’s one lesson that you can take away from your first headlining tour?

Nick: Oh man, take vocal lessons. I’ve learned that from all the tours so far. It’s crucial for longevity and stamina. Just take care of yourself and drink a lot of water. It’s really important to just stay healthy and eat properly.

Schmizz: The fact that you need to take a break sometimes. We tried to do 14 shows in a row on our second tour ever while sleeping in a van every night. During that, we all smelled terrible. We walked to the venues looking like zombies. I got a concussion. I was all just fucked man.

Nick: That’s just kind of who we are as people. We’re always trying to do as much as we can. We were so hungry for opportunities and willing to do anything during our first tour. We still have that drive in different ways. Now Schmizz and I stay up pulling 20 hour days just writing and producing. 

OTW: You’re already on tour with the New Politics and The Maine shortly after. What’s something that you’re approaching differently this time around?

Schmizz: I don’t know about approach differently, but we’re finally on a bus so we can be a bit healthier!

Nick: That’s true. For the New Politics tour, we’re sharing a bus with Dreamers and it’s our first ever bus tour so we’re really excited about that. When you’re touring in a van and everyone’s just taking shifts driving, it’s rude to go out and make them wait. I’m really just excited to go out and know I have to back at the bus by 4am before it leaves.

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OTW: R.I.P. Daisy the van. The band’s first little tour minivan, right?

Nick & Schmizz: [Laughing while clapping] Yeah!!

Nick: The van’s sitting in my grandma’s parking lot.

Schmizz: It doesn’t drive anywhere.

Nick: It’ll probably become something like a backyard treehouse thing. I don’t want to sell it.

OTW: As a newer band, you’re frequently opening for other bands and artists. Does that affect how you play with them as opposed to when you’re playing at your own show?

Nick: No, we love it!

Schmizz: When we’re doing a support show, we rock out and go just as crazy. The only thing that’s different really is our set time.

Nick: We love supporting for bigger acts because we’re competitive want to win over that crowd and take new fans home with us. Um wait. Nope. Not literally.

Schmizz: [Laughs] We’re going to put them in our closets!!

Nick: Um, we want to make them our fans. That’s what I meant.

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OTW: When you’re living out of a van as an entire band, how does that affect the chemistry of the band? Did you guys get closer? Were you getting into fights? 

Nick: Honestly, we’ve seen some other bands, and we bicker so little compared to them. I’m actually surprised at how well we all get along. There are always going to be little things, and that just happens when you’re with people 24/7 for three months straight on the road. But no one’s ever gotten physical with anyone. I don’t think that’d ever happen with our band.

Schmizz: When we’re off tour, we do our own things. We have our own lives and it’s important to have your own space. Today, we saw Billy for the first time since our headlining tour, and we just gave him a big hug. That’s kind of how it goes. You come back together and it makes it more fun again.

OTW: I’m aware that you guys are fond of Cage the Elephant, Blink 182, and Arctic Monkeys, but who are some artists that you listen to outside of rock?

Schmizz: I would say Westen, our guitarist, is our biggest music fan as far as eclectic taste. He listens to hip-hop, pop, and a wide range of music. Nick, Billy, and I usually keep it to rock.

Nick: I like some country music and funk. I love James Brown. I love some new stuff like Lettuce, Vulfpeck, Dopapod, Dumpstaphunk. We just get down! Our favorite new song is by this band called Superorganism. Their first single, “Something for your M.I.N.D.” is like MGMT meets the Juno soundtrack. If a song bumps, it bumps. It can be anything.

OTW: You guys have some pretty gnarly stories from Bottlerock 2016 as attendees.

Schmizz: Which one is that?

OTW: The one where you threw a dildo at Nothing but Thieves during their set?

Nick & Schmizz: [Laughing]

OTW: You’re finally performing at the festival this upcoming May. Was this something that was on the band’s bucket list?

Nick: It was the first festival that we attended as a band so yeah, it’s really special for us and we accepted as soon as we saw the offer come in.

Schmizz: There was a hobo that had a goat and he tried biting off my festival wristband.

Nick: The hobo did, not the goat by the way. [laughing]

Schmizz: Bottlerock whoo!

OTW: If technology ever turns against us and all hell breaks loose, which band member would be the last one standing?

Nick: Oh, Aaron’s quick and nimble. He’s small, quick and athletic. He can probably hide in things, so probably Aaron. I would try to outsmart the robots and probably lose because I’m vain.

Schmizz: I’d probably be like, “It’s over anyway.” Just take some psychedelics, lay back, and say “Take me, this is it. I knew this would happen.”

OTW: Who are your Ones to Watch?

Nick: Aww man! Superorganism, that’s a One to Watch. The Greeting Committee. They’re recording their album right now, which we’re excited for. Hmm, who else?

Schmizz: Technicolors!

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