One-on-One with Samuel Wells

Wept (Photo by Paige Collin)

by Laura Stanley

The new album from Victoria band Wept immediately grabbed me. Dress Me Like I’m Yours echoes my current state of restlessness: Colt Hoey’s guitar has bouts of agitation throughout the record – most fitfully in “Brushwork” and “Unclean” – a rich melancholia and an urgent need for change clash in songs like “Waded Through” and “I Shaved My Head,” and on opener “Candles,” front-man Samuel Wells lays out his unease as he sings, “Everyone returns to their routines but I’m still shifting.”

When Wells and I chat over the phone one afternoon, I tell him that I had recommended the album to someone by describing it as emo and I wonder if he thought that was an accurate descriptor. He does and we share our fondness of the current emo-revival and he says, with a laugh, “When we were writing Dress Me Like I’m Yours, we just thought, ‘oh fuck it, let’s write an emo record.'”

When we started writing Dress Me Like I’m Yours, I was in a relationship and then about half way through I was not in a relationship,” he says. “I also had just graduated high school so I had no idea what I was doing. I was sort of a mess and I think that’s the right time for emo. It was all very overwhelming and dramatic. Or it felt like that at the time.”

Dress Me Like I’m Yours symbolizes a new era for Wept. Formerly known as ACAB Rocky – a phrase Wells’ friend randomly latched onto one day at the skate park – the project began between Wells and Oliver Hollingshead but when it grew to include Hoey on guitar and Angus Watt on bass, a name change was in order.

“[Oliver and I] didn’t think anybody would ever listen to us,” Wells admits. “[ACAB Rocky] stuck for a while and as we added members and started taking it more seriously, it almost felt unfair for this weird little inside joke from when we were 16 to be forced upon these two new people.”

“We also had so much material under ACAB Rocky so it was nice to get a fresh start with a new name and push this record as our first formal release as a group. ACAB is hinged more so on what I did but Wept, and you can hear it on the record, is by the group.”

Wept’s music isn’t as rough as ACAB Rocky’s. It’s crisp and confident sounding, despite the lyrics. While it has an emo and pop-punk energy it also flirts with math-rock, pop, and even folk as heard on the hushed ballad “Amy”.

“I think a lot of that comes down to the fact that we all get really bored really easily. Our music is always inspired by what we’re in to,” Wells explains.

“I float around doing a bunch of stuff which is why I have a million different bands. For Wept, we added two more people to the writing process since our last record, Truce. Once you start getting more people into the writing process and you get more people’s opinions, naturally it’s going to sway in a different direction.”

Wells and I share a laugh over the number of projects he’s involved with. I claim it’s eight million and but realistically it’s about 5, including Melrose and an ambient project under his own name. He comes from a family of musicians – he describes his Dad as “an old blues guy from Chicago” who’s “a total weirdo and plays local pubs every night of the week” and his brother Joshua is the drummer for Destroyer and Black Mountain. A fervent love for music is what Wells knows. 

Looking ahead, Wells says he has a role in and is providing the soundtrack for a short film by local director Alex Bierlmeier, he’s making a follow up to the Melrose EP, and is working on an ambient/electronic album inspired by the everyday conversations he has with people. The shifting is continual.

“I always want to be playing everything all the time.”

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