Interview: Max Rainer of Wilderado on Bottle Rock Festival, Miley Cyrus and Ted Danson


Photo by Cara Robbins

Americana Highways recently had the opportunity to speak with Tulsa native Max Rainer of the band Wilderado.  Wilderado has already had a busy year opening for Mt. Joy and the band will be embarking on a headlining tour in May. This week, it was announced that Wilderado would also be playing at Hop Jam, a Tulsa based festival put on by the Hanson brothers, as well as Lollapalooza. Read our interview about favorite tracks, Miley Cyrus, working with Phil Ek, and Ted Danson.

AH: I like that you keep your About Me page simple on your website, with the picture of the four of you and the caption “Four Dudes,”  but for those of us that aren’t as familiar with the band, can you tell me a little bit more about yourselves?

MR: My name is Max, the short version is that I’m from Tulsa, OK.

I am susceptible to being influenced by music and I always have been.  And I was lucky enough to have people like the songs I was writing, which is how I met my fellow band members.

We started Wilderado with the idea we wanted to sing songs together and have a band that was about playing one part.  We focus on the tune, rather than separate individualized parts. Wilderado is about that focus, and about owning our songs as something we can each relate to in our own way. We hope to deliver the songs in a way that feels personable and allows the general listener to connect to them. The band originated in 2015 in Los Angeles. We’ve got two Texas boys and two Tulsans; two of us are back in Tulsa, two still live in Los Angeles and we travel the country playing songs we’re continually writing.

AH: Can you describe your sound in three words?

MR: Oh my gosh..umm…harmony, ooh…. let’s go with personable and guitars.

AH: What is unique about this tour, is there a special a place or a bucket list venue or one of the festivals you’re playing that stands out?

MR: It’s always such a privilege to go to a town that has enough people in it that want to gather in a building one night to hear songs of yours that they’re listening to. More than anything specific, it’s such an exciting thing to go and be around all those people.

Bottlerock in Napa Valley is such a fun festival. I’m really excited about that one, it’s the last show. It’s really fun to end the tour at a festival, because they’re so exciting and energized and then we get to go straight from that to a buddy’s wedding in LA, where hopefully and supposedly we get to meet Ted Danson.

AH: That’s so random!

MR: Isn’t that crazy? He’s our managers’ new wife’s godfather. So, he’s 100% going to be there, I’m a fan of A Good Place and I think Ted Danson is the raddest, and he’s going to leave a Wilderado fan, I promise you that.

AH: You’re probably right! When I think of him, I think of Cheers.

MR: You should watch A Good Place, it’s insane.  I think it’s really so, so funny and he is so brilliant in it.

AH: Your EP, Favors, has been said to reflect growth in the band and in your sound, do you attribute that to working with Phil Ek (Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes)?

MR: Here’s the thing, if you work with a producer, that person is going to have a massive influence on your sound. And it’s a fun thing, because it makes it so much larger than yourself, instantly. There’s no point in doing anything other than appreciating that fact. So yes, Phil Ek definitely had a very large impact on that EP. Mostly because we played it so live, we recorded in such a live way.  We were really hoping that we put out a piece of work that gave an explanation of what it may be like to come and see us play. He did an excellent job of capturing that energy. We’d played those songs for almost a year before we recorded them and the EP captured just how they come across and how we’d been performing them live. It was a fun way to record. He did have a big influence, he captured every sound and relayed it.

AH: Do you have a favorite track on the EP?

MR: That all kind of changes every night. As far as the performing live part goes, I really love the song “Sorrow” right now. It was one of those rare times that I said some things that I wanted to say or felt good to say, unbeknownst to my own self. And we love playing that song live, it’s got such a great energy behind it and it feels therapeutic to sing every time.

AH: I read that you guys are working on new material, is it going to be out later this year? Is it going to be an EP or a full length album?

MR: We’ll start releasing singles, just songs one at a time. I’m hoping for a proper release or LP in 2020. We have enough material to do that, we have so much new music and we’re so excited about it and it’s going to come out one way or another.

AH: Is there anyone on your wishlist that you’d really like to collaborate with?

MR: I’ve always wanted to do a collaboration with Miley Cyrus! She has the best voice ever, I’ve always wanted to sing with her and write with her. Whenever anyone asks that, I always say that so that one day, hopefully it will reach her.

AH: Who is on your playlist currently?

MR: There’s a playlist on Spotify called Lo-Fi beats (laughs) it’s just like beats, like very relaxed simple tracks without words and there’s something very zen about it for me. I’ve been listening to that playlist a lot.

AH: Thank you for talking to us.

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