interview: wylie hunter

wylie hunter & the cazadores @ local 506

The second of two interviews today! Wylie Hunter and the Cazadores will be opening for Jon Lindsay (my interview with Lindsay is here) at Slim’s on Thursday, 12/1, and Wylie was also nice enough to answer some questions for me in advance of the show. Behind the jump, Wylie on the writing process, how the band takes their hashbrowns at Waffle House, and his biggest vices.

Y’all just got to the mixing stage of the your first full-length record — tell me a little about your writing process. How do you collaborate with your band? Do you start with lyrics and move on to music and arrangements, or vice versa, or a little of both? Do you write on the road? How long has this album been in the works?

I still usually sit down with a guitar and write. Sometimes it starts with a lyric or an idea for a lyric and the music takes it’s place around that. I have a million little progressions or licks that I save up that sometimes find there place with the lyrics I’m writing. I usually try each song a few different ways before bringing it to the band. Sometimes I will already have an arrangement in mind, but mostly, when it’s done, I play what I have for the other guys. All of us then start bouncing ideas off each other and figuring out how best to serve the song. The songs sometimes evolve during this stage also, one of the guys may have a better idea for how to transition between sections, or a different feel that might serve the song better. That’s the thing that ties us all together, I think: we’re all about how best to get the song across. I don’t do a lot of writing when we’re on the road because writing has always been a solitary process for me. I need to be able to try things sometimes while I’m writing that might feel silly or stupid in front of other people. On the road, you’re never really alone for any significant period of time. This album has really been in the works since shortly after finishing our EP. I had already started working on several of the new songs during the recording process of the EP, I’d say maybe a year and a half.

You guys have spent a lot of time on the road this year. How has touring been different from just playing in the Triangle? Where is your favorite place to play outside of North Carolina?

One of the really fun things about traveling and playing shows on the road is you get to meet all kinds of different people. This country is so large and culturally diverse, that everywhere is a little different. Some places are really different, it’s almost like culture shock. It’s really cool playing for people you’ve never met. When people come to our shows knowing only the music, and not us personally, it sometimes makes it easier to commit to the moment. I’d have to say up to this point, New York has treated us the best. We’ve been playing every couple months up there and more and more people have been coming out. It’s also always a blast to just get to spend some time up there, so much to see at every turn.

What records in your parents’ record collection were your biggest influences as a kid? Have you held on to any of them as you’ve gotten older; who are they?

I didn’t start playing music in earnest until high school, but my parents were both great music lovers. Both of them listened to a lot of Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bonnie Raitt, The Rolling Stones. I remember my dad listening to a lot of R.E.M. I used to listen to Jimi Hendrix every day when I did my homework in middle school. I’d say more than the specific influences, it was the core of what made those artists great that I’ve held onto. I still listen to Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones, but I rediscovered them as an adult. The main thing that rubbed off on me, I think, was taste: my opinion of what great music is.

Who (or what, if it’s books or something else) is influencing or inspiring you lately?

I’m always being inspired by different things. But lately, I’ve been reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time since high school. Such a human story, anything that makes me feel that strongly is inspiring. My Morning Jacket have been providing a lot of inspiration as well. I love the way each of their songs almost feels like a different genre, but all still makes sense together.

How do you prefer your hashbrowns at Waffle House?

I prefer mine scattered and covered. I’m easy to please when it comes to potatoes.
Paul likes his smothered and covered.
William’s a plain ‘taters kind of guy.
And Seth likes his at 3 in the morning, half drunk, after watching a killer show.

What are your three biggest vices? Three biggest indulgences?

For me they’re the same three: popsicles, popcorn, and caffeine. Popsicles and popcorn are like crack to me, I could eat them for three meals a day. Caffeine has been a vice of mine for a long time. I go through phases of drinking one cup of coffee after another for entire days, I’ve been trying to reign it in lately.

Carolina, Duke, or State?

We’re all Tar Heel boys. Most of the guys in the band went to Carolina, and we all either live in Chapel Hill or Carrboro. It’s kind of hard not love, when the team is always so good and everyone in town is into it.

What’s your tour van smell like after a month on the road? Please be as descriptive as possible.

We generally don’t go out for that long at a stretch, but even after a week it gets pretty rough. I’d say mostly just junk food and smelly dudes. Think somewhere between a weight room and a Carrboro dance party.

If you had a time machine and could use it to go back in time and see one concert, any time and any place, who would you see, and where?

Lord, too many choices. I guess I’d really like to see Dylan play in Greenwich Village. I would have loved to see Springsteen play the Bottom Line in ’75. I have a recording of one of those shows and it sounds absolutely raucous.

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