If you ever question the limits of reality, then the surreal sounds of Wild Frames are exactly what you need to fuel those transcendental thoughts. The psychedelic surf rock band from Hattiesburg creates a means of escapism with songs that take listeners to chill beach scenes or on wild flights away from earth.
Not that you could tell as they laughed and shared home-cooked brunch, but the five band members — Will Bird (drums), Ryan Locklear (guitar), Leeann Rogers (vocals), Jesse Spears (bass), and Jessie Vasser (guitar) — barely knew each other this time last year.
Bird and Locklear attended the same high school, but never seriously gave any thought about playing music together. However, once the pair moved to Hattiesburg they began discussing the possibility of starting a band. Soon after, they met Spears and Vasser through mutual friends.
“We convinced Jesse Spears to trade in his drums for a bass guitar so we could all start playing together,” recalled Bird.
After a few jam sessions, the group decided to search for a vocalist, and it just so happened that Bird and Vasser had recently heard Rogers sing at the Hattiesburlesque Beach Bash.
“Ryan mentioned getting a female vocalist, and I knew we should reach out to Leeann,” said Vasser.
Her unique, androgynous voice landed her the first — and only — audition for the group’s lead singer. For the audition they chose to learn “Wave of Mutilation” by The Pixies, whom they name as one of their biggest musical influences.
“We were trying to be very professional during the audition,” said Spears. “But as soon as Leeann left the room, we were all like, ‘that was fucking awesome,’” added Vasser.
The group immediately began working on original songs, and “Beach Banshee” was the band’s first track. Even before Rogers had written lyrics, the group knew they had created something they loved.
“I remember the first time we played it through. We were all smiling and Ryan said, ‘Let’s only play songs that make us feel like that,’ and so that’s what we want do,” said Bird.
The guys still continue to write their own parts for each song, usually based on an initial guitar part from Locklear or Vasser. Rogers says she needs to immerse herself in the music before she can begin to write lyrics. Rogers listens the songs on repeat until she has a specific image — like the ocean or a rocket ship — in her mind and then builds a narrative around that picture.
The lyrics for “Metropolis” were inspired by an amalgamation of the band’s most vivid dreams. The song’s intensity mounts through the combination of dreamy music and nightmarish lyrics:
“I’m trying to pick up the phone / But all the numbers are wrong / This house is Haunted, I’m not alone / All the stairs are too long / There’s a masked man following me / All the rooms are soul sucking / I’m running down the corridor/ And out into the tropical storm.”
Last August, Wild Frames took their original songs to Open Mic Night at the Thirsty Hippo, and venue owner Brad Newton invited them to open for The Donkeys in September.
“We’re incredibly thankful to Brad for giving us the chance to play,” said Vasser.
Playing live shows provides the band members with a much-desired creative outlet for their musical zeal.
“I can play anything in my practice space, but together we can create something more meaningful,” said Bird.
Wild Frames has since opened for Thelma and the Sleaze, Shmu, and Peelander-Z.
Rogers’s Hattiesburlesque background also shines during the band’s performance. For each show, Rogers plans and creates an eclectic outfit, complete with elaborate makeup and colorful wigs. Rogers said she’s always felt more like herself when she’s in a costume.
“I really just want everyone who comes to our shows to have fun and really let their freak flag fly,” she added.
She also incorporates hula hooping and light twirling into the live shows.
“That’s another reason we really wanted Leeann for the band. She brings so much more than just an amazing voice,” said Locklear as Rogers blushed from under her blue wig.
Wild Frames was excited to learn that their fans nominated them for Best Live Musical Act for FestivalSouth’s Best of the Pine Belt 2016.
“We’re thrilled to know that people are enjoying our shows and our music,” said Spears.
In addition to building their on-stage persona, Wild Frames is also in the studio recording their first album. Vasser said they are using a home studio that has great natural acoustics while working with experienced producer, Alfred Jordan, III.
In the upcoming months, the band hopes to finish the album and book a few out-of-town shows.
“We’re really proud to be a part of the Hattiesburg music scene, and we want to represent that community,” said Bird.
Luckily, you don’t have to wait for the album to drop to check out the reverb rock group’s spacey music. The live demo teaser is currently online at wildframes.bandcamp.com, and if you want to catch the next show, connect with the band at facebook.com/wildframesmusic.