Wil Wagner from the The Smith Street Band talks to Newcastle Live

It’s been a big few days for Wil Wagner. The Smith Street Band’s frontman has just kicked off a national tour in the same week that the band announced the details of their 4th studio album, with a new single and music video to boot.

So it makes sense that when I ring Wil for our interview, there’s no answer to my call. Twenty minutes later I’m hit with a text: “Hey mate sorry I’m unexpectedly on a barge. I’ll call ya back in halfa”.

After an afternoon of phone tag, it’s revealed that on the way home from picking up American singer/songwriter Laura Stevenson from the airport, their car had broken down on a barge on the way to an island getaway.

Stevenson is one of the main supports for Wagner’s upcoming tour. It’s the first ever Australian shows for the New York-based artist. “Her last album Cocksure, is like, one of my favourite albums ever” explains Wagner. “I can’t wait for people to hear her music”

Also joining the tour is Iona Cairns from the UK; formerly of the band Great Cynics who toured Australia with The Smith Street Band in 2015. She currently fronts the Emo/Indie band Shit Present.

Lucy Wilson was also added to the tour, replacing Ian Graham from Cheap Girls. Wilson is the phenomenal voice behind Melbourne soul outfit The Sugarcanes, and has appeared on a few Smith Street Band releases, most notably the single ‘I Scare Myself Sometimes’.

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Wil has promised to try and keep things interesting in his upcoming tour. “I’ve been playing with the band for so long when I play solo I am like…where has everyone gone? Where’s all the extra noise?”

Switching between acoustic and electric guitar for the shows, the set will be a mix of Smith Street Band and Solo material. “I might play a song that I wrote 10 years ago, but I could also play something that I finished in my room last week” said Wagner.

One of the songs most fans will be looking forward to is ‘Birthdays’, the latest single from The Smith Street Band that was released on Tuesday morning.

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In one of the bands most positively upbeat songs to date, Wagner puts bells on to confess his love; talking about subtle intimate moments to grand gestures and future children. All before the tension breaks and Wil finally spurts out “Anyway, hey, my name’s Wil / Ah, it’s nice to meet you.”

The song is the 2nd track on the upcoming album More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me, set to be released on April 4th. The title is an adage most commonly used to describe bears, sharks, and lions. But Wagner has adapted it into his own life, used in the album to discuss personal relationships and social interactions.

The new album will be released through Pool House Records, a new record label that has been started by The Smith Street Band, and their new album will be their first release. This is the first of their albums that will not be releases through infamous Melbourne label Poison City Records, although there is no hard feelings there.

Wagner explains that Pool House Records is a long time coming, and is heavily inspired by the work done by Poison City Records. The band see it not only as a new platform for their music – but groundwork that is being laid for a life after touring, working in the music industry. “Hopefully ten years from now, we will have our own discography of albums, and our own roster of artists that all work together the same way Poison City does”

What: Wil Wagner
With: Laura Stevenson (USA), Lucy Wilson, Iona Cairns (UK)
When: Friday, February 17th
Where: The Small Ballroom
Tickets: Oztix

Written by Spencer Scott

Spencer is a singer/songwriter from Newcastle. He's also a Triple J Unearthed Super User and writes for many national publications.