Wild Lives' New EP's Punk, Politics and Partying

Wild LivesEXPAND
Wild Lives
Jake Holschuh

The opening track of Wild Lives’ forthcoming EP came out of nowhere. At least that’s how vocalist Hans Meyer characterizes the origin of the local punk band’s newest protest anthem, “Streets.”

In actuality, the song came out of a rare practice session in 2018, when the five-piece band wasn't busy rehearsing for any upcoming performance and could just play for the fun of it. Meyer, a renowned immigration lawyer in Denver, had to miss the first hour.

By the time he arrived, his bandmates — guitarist Taylor Pendergrass, drummer Blake Pendergrass, singer/keyboardist Lindsey Housel and bassist Jay Tollen — had already come up with a number of catchy hooks that they were stringing together into verses and a chorus.

"I remember very clearly walking into the room and listening to what was basically a completely done song and thinking, 'This song is fucking awesome,'" Meyer recalls.

The vocalist grabbed a microphone and began belting out whatever lines popped into his head. Soon the group had a chorus: “That’s right! Me and you in the streets! Sweat, blood, rock and roll is our concrete!”
Later, Meyer and Taylor would add more politically provocative lyrics to round out the verses. “Iggy Pop said put napalm in the tanker/Our trunk will hold at least half a dozen bankers/Gonna yank yank you by the strings of the purse/Tax shelters and artifice — watch out, punk, the streets are coming for you first.”

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Pendergrass believes the organic way that “Streets” came together — as opposed to being written in a piecemeal fashion, like earlier songs — is indicative of how Wild Lives has evolved as a band. “I think we've gotten to a point where we all kind of understand what we're going for as musicians, artists and friends,” he says.

And those friends are unique in their makeup: Two of Wild Lives’ members daylight as civil rights-focused lawyers (Meyer and Taylor), Blake is an ESL teacher, Housel does audience development for some of Denver’s largest museums, and Tollen helps treat trauma through hypnotherapy.

All of that lived experience factors into the group’s songs and lyrics, which bandmembers like to describe as one part punk, one part politics and one part partying.

"What comes through, I think, is an accurate reflection of the times we're living in, which is a desire to seize life and be vivacious in our local community — but you hear some darkness, too,” Taylor says.

Right now the group is looking forward to unveiling the new EP, titled Return of the Kid — a reference to Meyer’s stage name, “The Kid.” Return comprises five songs; like Wild Lives' first collection, which was released last year, it was recorded and produced by Green Door Recordings, a studio run by Felipe Patino in Englewood. 

Return of the Kid's tracks are each edgy, fun and raw in their own way — including “Only One,” a furious number sung by Housel that rails against toxic masculinity. On songs like “Talk” and “Riots,” the band employs riffs that are catchy enough to induce head-bobbing, yet strong enough to carry lyrics decrying the inequities of capitalism and lampooning musicians who’ve sold out to corporate interests.

Wild Lives' New EP's Punk, Politics and Partying
Karl Christian Krumpholz

Much like the band’s live performances, the recorded numbers pack a punch. In fact, the EP was recorded live (with only vocals overdubbed) in order to retain the frenetic energy of a Wild Lives show. Perhaps the only thing missing on the record are the visuals of Meyer jumping around on a venue stage or doing handstands out among an audience.

Those antics are likely to be on display during the group’s EP-release party on Saturday, June 22, at Streets Denver, with supporting performances from Cheap Perfume and Vic & the Narwhals. CD copies of Return of the Kid will be available at the show, as will links to a digital download.

"It's going to be a big, fun party," Taylor promises, one that goes along with the ethos of the band. “We just want to continue creating spaces where people can come together with bands and celebrate, but also lament the state of the world and then inspire action — all within thirty minutes, because, you know, it's punk music."

Wild Lives EP release
9 p.m. Saturday, June 22, Streets Denver, 1501 East Colfax Avenue, $8, 21+.

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