Life has gotten rocky for Wild Moccasins as of late, but the Houston-based indie pop act has found a way to sound smoother than ever despite that. On the band’s newest album, Look Together, synths pour into the mixture to turn otherwise melodic indie rock into a more romantic and laid back affair.
While Look Together shows some significant sonic changes, it also sees Wild Moccasins taking another new turn in the band’s career. Technically, the recording was a hurdle in itself both lyrically—it was a breakup record for both Zahira Gutierrez and Cody Swann—and literally—because they technically lost other members, including a guitarist and a drummer. “It made it more exciting for us to have those shoes to fill,” says Swann. As a band, both members found they had to assert themselves more boldly, learn how to write beyond their own individual parts, and fill the shoes of someone else while learning how to be comfortable in them.
“A lot of our change comes from getting less insecure about how we sound. As much as the way things go, I think a lot of our change in sound was a conscious decision. We wanted to get out of our comfort zone on this record, so the way we did that was by making decisions that alternated the way we write,” says Gutierrez. “I wrote more on this record than the last one. I wanted to have more of my voice on the record, because Cody and I wrote most of it with the help of our drummer.”
To understand how they’ve grown over time, we interviewed Zahira Gutierrez and Cody Swann for a round of Wheel of Tunes, a series where we ask musicians questions inspired by their song titles. With Look Together as the prompt, their answers are quizzical and fun—a flash of what to expect when the band headlines ONCE Somerville this Sunday.
1) “Boyish Wave”
DIGBOSTON: How would you describe the way you usually greet your male friends?
SWANN: We have a tight-knit group of friends, girls and guys. If we stop to hang with anybody, we’re probably going to give them a big hug. Anybody who has stuck around with us for this long deserves a hug. [laughs]
2) “Temporary Vase”
DIGBOSTON: Have you ever had to turn an object into a makeshift vase because you didn’t have a proper place to put flowers?
SWANN: Yes, but I can’t give you the exact time that I’ve done it. I know I have, though. You made me think of also Zyra and her boyfriend use trophies from thrift stores as bookends.
GUTIERREZ: But that’s different!
SWANN: I know, but it’s just as zany.
GUTIERREZ: They’re happy and they’re cheap! But yeah, I don’t put anything in a vase because I kill all plants. I killed a one recently that’s hard to do, supposedly, so I try to stay away from flowers now.
3) “Longtime Listener”
DIGBOSTON: Who is an artist you’ve been listening to for over a decade but would be too scared to talk to if given the chance?
GUTIERREZ: There are very few people out there I don’t want to know because I don’t want the image of them to shatter, or be too intimidated. I would probably say Bjork because she’s such a huge inspiration to me and she’s not even a real human, you know? She’s from another planet. Who knows how to talk to her?
SWANN: David Byrne, because I don’t know what you would even say to the guy who has heard it all and seen it all. All you can say is thank you.
4) “Missing You (the Most)”
DIGBOSTON: What’s the one thing you miss the most when on tour?
SWANN: I know our significant others would like us to say that, but that answer isn’t any fun [laughs]. I miss the food in Houston.
GUTIERREZ: Yes, that’s a good answer. The food in Houston is incredible. It’s a very, very, very diverse city, so you get all these different cultures coming together to make all types of food. You can’t find that in a lot of other cities.
SWANN: Taqueria Del Sol is my favorite restaurant in Houston. I grew up going there a lot.
5) “Doe-Eyed Dancer”
DIGBOSTON: What’s a dance move you recently learned to do, even if it’s not a “real” dance?
GUTIERREZ: I just tried to learn the “In My Feelings” challenge. We listen to a lot of Drake in the car and I recently learned about this challenge. Two days ago, I was put on the spot by a stranger to do it. I’ve been wanting to learn it so I decided to learn it right then and there in front of a bunch of people I don’t know.
SWANN: The guy was holding a Bluetooth speaker. We had never met him before.
GUTIERREZ: But he was playing Drake and I was just like, “Hell yeah. Now is the time.”
6) “Seven to One”
DIGBOSTON: When was the last time you bet on something?
SWANN: The last time was, truthfully, when I was in a casino playing poker, betting money and losing. But then I probably played roulette and bet money and won. We get to stop a lot in New Orleans on tour. It’s close enough to Houston where we get to stop at places like that. It’s fun winning with strangers. You find yourself hugging somebody you had never met two seconds [ago]. If you don’t have an addictive personality, I say go for it.
7) “Look Together”
DIGBOSTON: If you had to pick one subject, what would you say everyone in the band can agree upon?
SWANN: We all are in agreement politically. We share the same sentiments, value everybody as humans, and love one another. Everybody we’re in the band with shares the same sentiments in that way.
GUTIERREZ: I was going to say we can all agree when it’s time to listen to Scorpio.
SWANN: My answer isn’t that good, but it’s the obvious, fundamental, shared truth between us all. But I can say we can all agree that it’s always worth it to wake up early to get to the venue on time, no matter how late we stayed out the night before.
8) “Desired Effect”
DIGBOSTON: Are there any guitar pedals or instrument additions like such that you would love to try?
SWANN: I would say probably an original Klon Centaur pedal. I have one that’s meant to be just like it, but I love that the guy who makes them basically gives you a questionnaire to make sure he wants you to have the pedal. If you answer incorrectly, he will say he doesn’t like how your band sounds and doesn’t want to take your money. He’s an older guy who makes these Klon Centaur pedals and it sounds like it’s worth trying to get one just to get that challenge. He gets $800 to $1000 for each pedal, and I love that on top of that price point there’s this unsaid rule that he has to want you to use it in your music, not the supposed “wrong” type of musician.
9) “No Muse”
DIGBOSTON: Who was an idol of yours that recently let you down?
GUTIERREZ: Morrissey keeps letting me down and that’s a bummer. We really love the Smiths. It’s a band we’ve been listening to since we were young. It sucks he says all the nonsense he has said. He’s just lost his mind. Everytime there’s a new headline about Morrissey I’m like, “Goddammit, here we go.”
10) “Shooting in the Dark”
DIGBOSTON: Have you ever gone hunting before?
GUTIERREZ: No, I don’t know if I could do it. It seems unnecessary.
SWANN: Yeah, just no.
11) “Conditional Lover”
DIGBOSTON: If you had a list of rules somebody had to follow in order to be eligible to date you, what would the top rules be?
GUTIERREZ: You know, I actually have an absurd rule [laughs]. If a guy showed up wearing sandals, I’d probably walk out. I have weird, dumb rules like that.
SWANN: If somebody was ever rude to a server, waiter, or waitress, I would probably walk out. That’s a deal breaker.
12) “Waterless Cup”
DIGBOSTON: Which reusable water bottle company are you a loyalist to?
GUTIERREZ: I guess I usually pick Smart Water for no particular reason. It just looks nice. And I think maybe it’s trying to add some consistency to an inconsistent day.
WILD MOCCASINS, FITNESS, NOVA ONE. SUN 7.22. ONCE SOMERVILLE, 156 HIGHLAND AVE., SOMERVILLE. 7PM/18+/$12. ONCESOMERVILLE.COM