Sometimes Spotify's "Discover Weekly" just nails it.
I was on my couch gaming one night in 2018, headphones on, trying to find more artists to add to my playlist. I'm admittedly picky with the genres I listen to, heavily favoring rock music and skipping almost everything else (I've gotten better lately, though).
That night, "Between Two Rooms," the lead-off track of Wildermiss's 2017 EP, Lost With You, popped up in my algorithm and immediately caught my attention. Knowing my usual musical tastes, it wasn't a surprise to hear Emma Cole's crisp vocals just seconds into the track. After all, I've had an affinity for female-fronted rock bands since I purchased my first CD (Garbage's self-titled album from 1995).
On top of the soaring vocals, Joshua Hester's soothing guitar work and Caleb Thoemke's creative percussions combined to form a compelling first impression of the band.
In diving down the rabbit hole, I noticed they had a few EPs and single releases but no full-length LPs, a trend that continued for a few more years. Still, it was apparent from what was released that Wildermiss loved exploring different sounds with their music, and something big would eventually come of it.
Over the next few years, the trio sold out numerous headline shows in their hometown of Denver, Colorado, while expanding their fanbase across the U.S. In 2020, they even got creative during COVID times, playing shows on neighborhood streets from the back of a flatbed trailer.
In 2023, Wildermiss kicked their touring into overdrive and has already played more live shows than they did from 2020-2022 combined. Recently, they joined Switchfoot for several dates of their Beautiful Letdown 20th Anniversary Tour, playing tracks from their first full-length LP, Levitate.
Released on October 26th, Levitate is the start of a new phase for the band. With 13 songs and clocking in at just under 42 minutes, the album showcases the many sounds of Wildermiss in all of their glory.
I spoke with Emma, Joshua, and Caleb in the midst of their ongoing tour dates to discuss the new album and their experiences over the years.
Wildermiss talks opening for Switchfoot, shedding old skin, and tour life
Between multiple tours and your first full-length album, this year definitely feels like the biggest Wildermiss has had as a band. What stands out most about what you've all accomplished together in 2023?
The connections we’ve made with fans across the country. It’s always amazing when you show up to a city you’ve never played before, and there are people there who know your music.
I was excited to hear about Wildermiss joining Switchfoot for some of their Beautiful Letdown 20th Anniversary Tour! What was that experience like, and do you feel like you learned a lot by spending time with a band that's been around for over 20 years?
Playing those shows with Switchfoot was amazing! The whole crew was super friendly and really welcomed us in and made us feel like a part of the team. They set a great example of how to treat your support band. They are genuine humans who we’re grateful to call new friends even though we’ve been singing along to their songs for 20 years.
Getting into your first LP, Levitate. You previously had released a fair amount of singles and EPs dating back to 2017. What convinced you all that it was time to dive into a full LP?
It was the right time. Shedding old skin, growing and learning, experimenting. The saying 'every seven years, you change.' We're a new band.
Pretend I'm someone who's never listened to Wildermiss before. What can I expect when I jump into Levitate as my entry point into the band? Is there a main theme to look out for?
This album is a rebirth and a letting go. Dark to light. Processing pain and trauma. Rising above.
Gettin' Old Rock & Roll is a song that stood out immediately when I saw it live well before its release. I understand it came together on a whim one night. Can you describe how that turned from a late-night riff into a standout track on a full record? And who deserves credit for the catchy "hoo-ooh, hoo-ooh" melody?
We wrote this after a 12-hour day of writing and demoing. We were so exhausted and delirious, and then Josh played those two simple chords. Then Emma started singing, Caleb started drumming, and it just came together so fast. Emma wrote that melody.
(For Emma): I've been a huge fan of rock bands with a female vocalist for years, from bands like Garbage and No Doubt in the 1990s to more recent ones like Flyleaf and Paramore. Who are some female-fronted rock bands that have influenced you? Is there anything like that in your music rotation currently?
Emma: Surprisingly enough, I wasn’t very interested in female-fronted bands growing up. There weren’t many on my iPod or in my rotation. I was always interested in indie rock alternative artists like The Strokes, Radiohead, Jet, Phoenix, Silversun Pickups, Vampire Weekend, Born Ruffians, etc. I’ve always loved the male vocal register and tones of these artists. Female-fronted bands and artists I’ve found and loved on my musical journey include Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wolf Alice, Middle Kids, Wet Leg, Lorde, Paramore, Mitski, and many more. I’m grateful to be a female artist discovering my own voice and taste.
Is there anything you can tease your growing fanbase about the band's plans for 2024?
More music! More touring! More, more, more!
From the day I first encountered their music, I was convinced Wildermiss would become a big name before too long. Their recent move from Denver to Nashville reaffirmed their commitment to making music for the masses, and it's just one of many leaps to come. For Wildermiss, the story is just beginning.