Photo Credit: Shelby Mick
There are always a multitude of directions conversations can take and when we linked up with Lincoln Mick from The Arcadian Wild, it led us towards the expected like the band’s new album, ‘Welcome,’ out on July 21st, but we also took a left turn and discussed whether or not AI was something musicians were starting to worry about. So music, AI, and more with The Arcadian Wild await in this back-and-forth exchange.
Kendra: Let’s talk about the video for “Lara” first because as a band that got their start playing house shows, this sort of felt like an homage to the past. For artists that skip that part of touring, did you learn any life lessons about the road playing those shows back in the early days?
Lincoln Mick: Those first few years really shaped our perspective on the nature and the purpose of our work together. There was a lot of mutual trust thrown around between us and the fine folks who invited us to play in their living rooms or backyard and then fed and housed us.
We had to get good at graciously and gratefully receiving hospitality, and then turn around and somehow become hosts in someone else’s home. It was a really interesting and deeply meaningful practice, and we attempt to come with a similar posture to all the club and theater shows we play in this era. We’re still playing host in someone else’s house, and we have an opportunity to make each person in the audience feel welcome and like they belong. Hopefully, we’ve set a good table, and everyone walks away at the end of the night with something nourishing and sustaining.
Kendra: As for the song, I want to get into the inspiration of it in a second but first – it’s been noted that the person who started writing this in 2019 came out the other end a year or so later changed. How do you think “Lara” would’ve wound up without the trauma from, well, 2020?
Lincoln: Isaac wrote that one, so speaking not as the primary writer on this one, but rather one of the humble collaborators, I think the lyric of “Lara” had mostly been finished pre-COVID, with maybe a little bit of team tinkering before everything shut down. I think good music has this lovely quality of acquiring richer meaning over time, and that has definitely happened with that tune. Isaac wrote a great song, and it’s richer when experienced through the lens of the last couple of years.
Kendra: What about your July 2023 release, ‘Welcome?’ What direction do you imagine it would’ve taken if we’d never been tossed into a collective whirlwind?
Lincoln: Again, I don’t know that Welcome would have necessarily been made manifest without the COVID experience. I think the songs are kind of buzzing with this renewed sense of gratitude for the practice of gathering. I’ve heard that for some writers, the time in isolation was creatively prolific, but that simply was not my experience. Once I sort of saw the little rays of hope shining through in the spring of ‘21, I was finally able to start making music again. The whole time we were writing and arranging these songs, we got so much energy from collectively asking ourselves, “Can you imagine what it will be like to finally be in a room with people again and share this music together?!”
Kendra: Back to “Lara,” because this made me cry. You all started working on this after a friend mentioned her daughter was going through some stuff, so it’s so beautiful that you gave her this song – but when you were her age, what song or artist did you always turn to when you needed a boost?
Lincoln: The music we make is so incredibly different from what I was listening to during those years. I was super into alt-rock and pop-punk. Relient K was (and, honestly, probably still is) my favorite band. At 31, that music still makes me feel sixteen, in the most triumphant and exuberant way.
Kendra: Ahead of “Lara” you dropped “Dopamine,” which is such a fun song to listen to as you all layer your vocals throughout. What I also loved was this, like, “Expectation of the age of information” because with AI continuing to be pushed in our faces, it’s hard not to think about how far science and tech have come since even the ‘90s. I know the movie and TV industry is battling AI right now, but is this a conversation musicians are having as well in regards to AI taking their place?
Lincoln: Hopefully we’re still a ways off from really coming under fire from the robots trying to make music, but I think it’s important to participate in and listen to the conversation long before it becomes a problem in our little corner. We’ve definitely started fooling with tools that we don’t fully know how to wield yet, and I feel for visual artists, authors, and other creative professionals who suffer in these uncharted waters.
Kendra: AI can’t tour though, at least I hope it never can because I love live music and y’all have a lot of that coming up with over 30 dates on the books. When you aren’t playing or driving, do you get a chance to explore the cities you’re in?
Lincoln: That is a win on the human side of things for sure. Yeah, usually our tour schedule is pretty tight, but sometimes we’ll get a day off in a cool place, or a coveted short drive between gigs. We’ve got some rock climbers, gym bros (the friendly, sweet kind), and runners in this crew, and we try to fit in little outings so everyone has some kind of opportunity to scratch those itches and take care of themselves. In certain regions and cities, we run into friends or family, and we try to carve out time for our people to catch up with their people if it’s possible. Life lived on the road is expensive physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and it’s important for everyone to get these little individual or collective wins along the way.
Kendra: Time for a side note – this month we’re asking everyone to pick a song for our ‘ZO Summer 2023’ playlist. So what summer anthem would you add, and why?
Lincoln: I mentioned RK, so I’m going to advocate for “Bummin’” off their record Air For Free. It’s a fun tune, and as a Nashville resident, I like the “Wedgewood and 8th” reference.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Welcome’ out on July 21st, what else is on the horizon for you at the moment?
Lincoln: Just LOTS of time on the road, which we mostly look forward to. We’ve been sitting on this record for about a year, just aching to finally be able to share the music in real life with real people in real rooms with real oxygen. It’s tough being away from home so much, but more often than not, one of the gifts our audience offers us is a sense of place and belonging. We step on stage wanting to make sure everyone else feels welcome and seen, but we typically walk away feeling pretty warm and fuzzy, too.