Heartwarming Folk from Boston.
I found A Cold Lonesome Nowhere some weeks ago and fell in love with the delicacy of their music. The band from Boston/US is led by singer, composer and guitar player Seth Wonkka, who comes from a previous solo career in which he released the album More Than Him (2012) featuring his simple and touching lyrics and stunning voice. Playing with a support band since 2013, his songs acquired new nuances, and the mix of folk-rock and country music became more interesting with the addition of cello and beautiful backing vocals from Cristina Freda Warseck. The band has been playing at festivals and in pubs in their city and now is gearing up to hit the studio and record their first album.
I talked to Seth Wonkka about his creative process, sources of inspiration and plans for the future, and now you can check it out here.
I read in your bio that at age of 8 you began taking guitar lessons and singing, what or who inspired you?
Growing up I always had music in my life. From as early as I can remember my parents had Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and other similar artists continually spinning on the old record player. Pulling out all the vinyl and looking at the album art really gave me a huge appreciation for music and art right from the get go. When it came time to pick out my own music I remember (first record ever) getting Cyndi Lauper and then Joan Jett and just loving them. I think they lead me towards playing guitar and then was solidified by some of the hair bands of the day like Bon Jovi and Poison. The ballads were huge then, guitar solos insane and I just grabbed onto it. I think that early parental folk inspiration mixed with those ballads from the late 80’s steered me towards how I write today. That with a little emo action laid on top to the likes of Dashboard Confessional and Jimmy Eat World. It’s crazy to think of how all these styles converge and build a base for my own writing.
Tell me a bit about your creative process, where do you get inspiration for your songs from?
I always tell people that my songs are fiction… maybe from some innate fear of revealing too much information of how I’m feeling or how I felt at that one point in my life. It’s almost a way to release my thoughts and hide them as “fiction”. The reality is that all of my songs are based on experiences I’ve had, experiences I wished I could have (because of being in a tough situation at that time), or from things I’ve seen or witnessed and developed a story off of that imagery. The first song I wrote, “Here’s My Heart” stemmed from me being in a terrible relationship with a verbally abusive and crass partner. I used to escape down to the beach in the fall and bring my guitar. Instead of writing about how sad and frustrated I was, I wrote the song about what the perfect night would be with the perfect person and how I longed for that type of relationship. “Here’s my heart just take it, lying on a blanket, underneath the sky so clear tonight. I’ll hold you like I stole you. You know you steal my heart more and more, every time we kiss.” To this day the song turns that bad experience into a good one and remains therapeutic every time I/we play it. The creative process always starts with a guitar and a notebook. I write the melody, chords and lyrics then present it to all of ACLN where they develop it into a full blown production with strings, keys, guitar, harmonies and beyond. It sometimes blows me away when I think of how basic and simple a song was at its inception and how much it grows at the hands of my amazingly talented band mates.
So, in the beginning you were a solo artist, now you’re playing with a band, how much does it affect the creative process? Have any of your songs come from collaborative efforts?
I think for me, in writing, the creative process always starts the same way. Verse, chorus, chords. Getting the simple song down is always first. The beauty of having all the incredibly talented musicians around is that they each bring their own style, taste and character to the song. It’s almost as if they know what instrument should fit each void, or play each hook. As we are developing, it’s amazing how so much of this happens without even speaking a word to each other. I think that comes back to a fairly classic songwriting style and by keeping the base of the song simple and letting the depth develop through all 7 members coming together.
Ok, you’re preparing yourselves to hit the studio and record your first full length EP, exciting! What can we expect from it?
I think that when you hear our album you’ll appreciate the fact the songs make sense. Big choruses, quiet when they should be, building intensity, honest lyrics. I think the infusion of instrumentation often used with country music (pedal steel) or classical (cello) filtered through folk/pop/rock songs are what will make it so special alongside beautiful intertwined vocal harmonies. Too many bands try to fit and write into a genre and sound modern or relevant… We just play what we think sounds right and could care less about fitting into molds… and in the end, I think many will appreciate the way it defies genres and relates to all.