Reuniting after a 13-year hibernation, Australian pop-punk act Wishful Thinking have returned with their new single, the suitably titled ‘Time To Be Alone’ blistering over the airwaves. The track is short, fast and a hell of a lot of fun!
Amidst COVID-isolation, we spoke with Wishful Thinking’s Alistair Elkins (Bass Guitar) and Carl Jackson (Vocals/Guitar) about how they’re navigating their return to Australia’s music scene (and home-schooling!) amidst these uncertain times.
Hi Alistair and Carl, welcome to Wall of Sound, and welcome back to Wishful Thinking after 13 long years!
[Carl] Thanks Luke. It’s like a weird dream that I’ve woken up from. I never expected that something like this would happen.
First up, what spurred Wishful Thinking’s decision to reunite after more than a decade?
[Carl] In December of 2018 the good folks at Triple J featured two of our songs on their ‘Short, Fast, Loud’ program and our friends started calling me telling me that I was on the radio. That in itself was crazy enough, considering that we hadn’t released a new song in 13 years. Then in January, we were asked by Chopdog Entertainment if we would consider reuniting for a tour with Area-7 and The Porkers and it seemed like an opportunity we couldn’t turn down.
[Alistair] For the first time ever we played as a four piece, with Lachlan (Wishful Thinking’s original bass player) playing second guitar. Everything felt right, the band’s sound was bigger, the brother harmonies were back and the stage banter was better than ever! We had a blast playing those shows, so we decided to reunite.
[Carl] While we were rehearsing for those gigs, we started writing new songs and we all felt pretty positive about the outcome and so we decided to write some more. Then the gigs kept coming and bands that we loved from back in the day started reforming as well. We got to play with old friends like Antiskeptic, Seraph’s Coal, Angela’s Dish and For Amusement Only. The decision made itself really.
How has the fan response been to your return to the music scene? I can imagine your original fanbase was ecstatic at your return, but what are your plans to reach today’s younger generation of listeners?
[Alistair] We cannot believe how great the turnouts have been at the shows. We have had crowd sing-alongs, circle pits and even some crowd surfing. It’s been a total blast.
[Carl] I told the promoter that I didn’t think anyone would come to see us. but I was 100% wrong. The turnout of old fans came as a complete surprise to me. People were wearing Wishing Thinking t-shirts they’d had for 15 years!
[Alistair] It is a very different game out there these days with all of the social media and music streaming platforms. We are probably one of the few bands that have a bigger fan base presence at live shows than online at this stage. As for younger listeners, we kind of hope our music speaks for itself. We aren’t too serious in this band and it’s all about having fun, so if the kids are into that then the kids will be alright.
You have an EP planned for release later this year, but obviously the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown has immensely impacted both world and the Australian music scene; how has Wishful Thinking navigated these uncertain times as a band
[Alistair] Well we have just kept running with it. We haven’t delayed releasing anything and fortunately, we had just finished a tour before lockdown. We are happily at home writing and organising film clips for the next releases.
[Carl] I feel like we have so much to learn about how the music industry is operating in 2020, so it’s actually been a good chance to try and get a solid following online without having to worry about booking shows.
Speaking of the shutdown, what does a typical iso-day for Wishful Thinking look like?
[Alistair] Haha, oh man! It’s not very rock n’ roll. We all have kids so it’s been a lot of home-schooling. None of us live in the same town as each other, we are spread all over the country from Airlie Beach to Melbourne, so there is also a lot of phone call and emails to each other with song ideas.
Did you guys get a chance to have any jam-sessions over Zoom?
[Carl] Nah, we’re not that technologically advanced. You need heaps of gear for those sorts of shenanigans.
[Alistair] Yeah, we’re more of a “have a hotel practice before a show and wing it” kind of band. Haha, it’s punk rock!
Your recent single ‘Time To Be Alone’ sits perfectly amongst the sound of old-school blink-182 and The Descendents. I can just imagine myself listening to it on the soundtrack to a ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’ game. When it came to record new music, what was your process like? Did the 13-year hiatus change the way you did things or was it just like old times?
[Carl] I’ll usually write a song on my own and record it, then send the file to Lachie and Alistair and they all screw around with it and come up with their own bits and in a month or two it starts to look like a finished track.
[Alistair] We wanted that return to the original sound we had when the band started back in the late 90s, we just got lucky that ‘Tony Hawk Pro Skater’ announced their re-release game at the same time! It is really a sign from God that everybody should start listening to skate punk again, haha!
Streaming is huge in today’s modern music market, but vinyl has made a massive comeback in recent years; are there any plans to re-release your discography on record?
[Alistair] Now that’s a good idea!
[Carl] At the moment it’s all about being frugal. As cool as that would be, it’s far too convenient releasing songs online. No more boxes of CDs sitting in my garage taking up space.
Finally, I’m going to throw you a curve-ball question and ask if you watched ‘Tiger King’, and do you think Carol Baskin killed her husband?
[Alistair] Haha, yeah, I’ve definitely seen it! I think there is a good chance that she did, but also if I had to live with her, I would have probably fed myself to the tigers!
[Carl] All I’ll say is that you can never trust people who own a lot of cats!
Thanks for joining us today guys, all the best!
Interview by Luke Sutton – (@lukeasutton)