With a name like The Wrecks, it’s easy to assume that the five guys in the alt-rock group are a bunch of mischievous twentysomethings looking to wreak havoc wherever they go. While that may not be true for their lives outside of music, it could be a fair assessment of their studio methods — but in a good way.
“There’s not a sonic destination that we know we’re trying to end up at,” frontman Nick Anderson tells Billboard. “We’re going in and saying, ‘How weird can this song be?’ or ‘What should this song feel like?’ A lot of it will be just be us experimenting with what a song could be, or what we could be as a band.” He adds with a laugh, “There’s just a lot of ‘who cares’ going on.”
That’s not to say the guys see their music as a joke: The Wrecks self-produce everything they create, which helps them stay as authentic and honest as possible. But they don’t take themselves too seriously, and many of their lyrics are indicative of that, perhaps mostly on the self-deprecating jam “James Dean.”
“I’m no James Dean/Heartthrob daydream/Bad hair, black jeans/Not cool suits me,” Anderson sings on the song’s chorus. Slyly diffident verses echo the hook throughout the entire song, which the guys hope positively resonates with fans.
“It’s knowing who you are, whether you’re an emotional wreck or struggling with something, or you’re just kind of like fucked up in the head — or you’re just different,” Anderson says of the song’s meaning, which coincides with the band’s brazen name. “Knowing your problems and being confident [about] it.”
The cheeky track is from The Wrecks’ sophomore EP Panic Vertigo, which was released in February but has been a staple in the group’s set since they toured with British alt-rockers Nothing But Thieves two years ago. The song is consistently one of the most high-energy parts of their show, so the guys felt it was only right to give “James Dean” a live-footage video treatment.
Coincidentally, as The Wrecks were looking to film a show for the “James Dean” video earlier this month, they played their biggest headline show to date at Tempe Marketplace — one of the venues where they were billed as support two years prior.
“That was a very eye-opening night, kind of a full circle moment,” guitarist Nick Schmidt says. Anderson adds: “And we thought it’d look badass in a music video.”
As the crowds have grown over the last couple of years, so has the band. But along the way, the guys have remained as self-aware as they are on “James Dean,” while also keeping the big dreams alive.
“We want to be headlining arenas one day,” Anderson declares. “In order to do that, we must go to the studio today.”
The Wrecks’ mix of “don’t quit” and “who cares” mentality seems to be setting them on the right track. “James Dean” is now getting airplay on SiriusXM’s Hits 1 station, a particularly special achievement because Anderson was initially told the guitar-heavy track was too much for mainstream radio. “I responded with the mix of the guitars even louder, with a note on it that said, ‘Guitars aren’t the enemy, bad songs are.’”
Their live show is the most reassuring validation for the guys, though Anderson can’t help feeling a little guilty when he sees so many fans show up. “It just makes me feel very lucky that I don’t have to go to a job that I hate, when I know that some people went to a job they hate to buy the concert ticket,” he suggests.
Nevertheless, big crowds keep The Wrecks grounded and fuels them to deliver the best performance they can every night. If that means Anderson and his bandmates are left feeling guilty for the rest of their career, so be it.
“It’s the best kind of guilt,” he says, “And it’s the best kind of reward.”
Watch the “James Dean” video below.