From left: Max Rainer, Tyler Wimpee and Justin Kila of Wilderado

Indie-rock trio Wilderado releases its self-titled debut album Oct. 15. The band, which consists of Max Rainer (lead vocals, guitar), Tyler Wimpee (guitar, vocals) and Justin Kila (drums), formed in 2015 and has toured with names like Lindsey Buckingham, Mt. Joy, Judah and the Lion, and Rainbow Kitten Surprise, performing main stage at Lollapalooza, BottleRocket and Austin City Limits festivals along the way. 

After years in Los Angeles, Rainer, a Tulsa native and Metro Christian grad, and Kila, originally from Mannford, returned to town in 2018. Wimpee, who hails from Waxahachie, Texas, remains in LA. For Rainer, who we recently interviewed, it’s been a positive decision both professionally and personally. 

What motivated the return to Tulsa?

We started having babies, and it was hard to make that work (in LA). We were touring so much, leaving from the middle of the country made a lot more sense. I think we were driving 1,800 miles on average to our first date when we were leaving from Los Angeles. I’ve got a big family here. It’s just one of those things made sense to do, so we came back. There’s such a great history here. If I’m going to be in a band, I’d rather be from Tulsa, Oklahoma, than from Los Angeles. 

Tell me a little about the upcoming album.

Well, first of all, it’s our first full length. That, in of itself, is something we’re very excited about. We’ve spent all this time as a band trying to get back to the place where we could sit and put out our first record, so it’s a big deal for us. It’s something we’ve wanted to do. Stylistically, we’ve put out so much music before ever having had a record. One thing I thought would be a fun challenge is to try and incorporate all the different styles of songwriting we’ve had in our catalog so far into this record and represent all the different ways that we’ve written as Wilderado, and I think we I think we did that. The record feels like a summation of the last five years and all of the other songs leading to these ones. I think that was a big reason why we wanted to self-title. It feels like this record is us. It’s exactly what we wanted to make. 

How has COVID-19 affected the band, and what are some of the changes you’ve made to cope?

I think first and foremost, we found our identity in touring as a band. We fit in recordings around that, and we made our fans that way. It was just kind of the top of the pyramid, and we figured out everything else. So now it doesn’t exist. People are starting to tour again, and we’ve got dates, but we just had our first date already cancel. Now, there’s this fear of it all happening again. I think what it’s done is made us reapproach this whole thing. 

The first thing you do is just try and decide if you still want to do it, right? And after deciding that ... we’ve been left with trying to figure out how and what that looks like today. The first thing we did was record a record, so we’ve got that at least, and the second thing we’re doing is starting to record a second one. So it looks like: “Let’s just start making more and more content.” That’s what we’re in the middle of. We’re trying to stay on our toes and be ready if we actually get the nod to go back out and start seeing our fans again. But it’s hard to say.

You mentioned having kids. Has there been some upside as far as time with family?

I try not to say this insensitively, but it’s probably been the best year and a half of my life. It’s been so great. We’ve got a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old, and within six months, I’d spent more consecutive time with both of them than I ever had. It’s the same with my wife (Natalia). Getting to spend some time in the studio has been amazing. Touring is great and a necessity, but it’s also incredibly exhausting and hard and anxiety-prone and, you know, you name it. So it’s been a fun thing for me. I’ll always appreciate having gotten to do this, but we know the band needs to tour, so there’s a necessity to getting back down the road, but yeah, it’s been just absolutely amazing being with the little girls.

You obviously appreciate the music history of this town. Are you influenced by the “Tulsa Sound?”

The short answer, “Yes.” I don’t know who I would specifically say stylistically may influence the band, if not all of it. I think I’m mostly just inspired by Tulsa, in and of itself. It’s this place where great music has always come from. There’s always been players that have had such massive impact on the mainstream music industry, yet have been able to stay in this place where it’s always just been about songs and playing, and never seem to get too lost in the other aspects of it all. I think that’s just inspiring. I would love to be able to continue to live that life where you get to live here in Tulsa, be with your family and be with your friends, and then make music.

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