INTERVIEW: Carl Jackson (WISHFUL THINKING)
Forming back in the late 90s in the glory days of energetic pop punk a la Blink-182 and New Found Glory, Aussie punks Wishful Thinking found themselves in hot demand, with their tight and raucous ways finding them picked up by the legendary Boomtown Records (aka the gateway to today's UNFD conglomerate) and sharing stages with Millencolin, MXPX, Antiskeptic and more back in the day. And while the group officially disbanded back in the early 2000s, as we've learned from the past few years in particular, it's never too late for a band comeback, and following a reunion tour just last year after over a decade of dormancy, Wishful Thinking are officially back in business with a new EP One More Time due out tomorrow.
Fans have already had a taste of what's to come with some raucous lead singles already out in the world, but just what does the rest of 2020 and beyond hold for this riffin' quartet? Come join Wishful Thinking's guitarist + vocalist Carl Jackson chatting all things new tunes, standout moments and what's next in the band's exciting new chapter. Interview below.
TIANA SPETER: Hello and thanks so much for having a chat today! Despite a pretty chaotic 2020, Wishful Thinking have forged ahead with a very welcome return to form, and you’re closing out in style with a brand new EP gearing up for release too! How has it felt to be back releasing new music, pandemic shenanigans aside, after all this time?
CARL JACKSON: Hi, thanks for your kind words and thanks for having me.I keep saying that this last year or so has been an amazing gift. After being apart for 13 years we’ve been unexpectedly played on one of Australia’s most loved radio stations, got to tour with some of the countries coolest bands and reunited with friends we hadn’t seen in over a decade. The best part being that it started with the fans requesting us to come out of retirement. The guys in the band are my best friends and before all this I hardly ever got to see them and now we talk and catch up all the time. “Gift” is the best word I can think of to describe the whole thing. So in answer to your question, it feels amazing.
TIANA: Earlier in the year you guys released your first song in over a decade, busting out ‘Time To Be Alone’ and giving us some insight into Wishful Thinking 2.0…can you talk me through a bit how the new material came to life? Did you guys approach the creative or more technical side of things differently compared to previous releases? Or was it pretty much business as usual?
CARL: After our first tour I went home and just started writing as much as I could, and I wrote about 15 songs in a couple of months. I tried not to worry too much about what came out and just embraced the process. Having not written for WISHFUL in such a long time I started pretty formulaic and then just waited to see what came out of me. I would listen to punk tracks that I have always loved and would try to write songs that had a similar vibe. My brother Lachie (second guitar) and I are always sending each other songs via Dropbox and he and Al (bass) always have something new to bring to a song. It’s hard for us - as we’re all spread around the country and can’t get together for a regular jam - but so far this process seems to be working ok.
TIANA: As a band, Wishful Thinking have certainly had some massive highs, I won’t sit here and list your entire backstory to you because we’d be here for a while…but you certainly came up quick and fast back in the day, and your songs were/are still resonating well into your hiatus. Do you feel confident in the whole “skate punk”-esque realm Wishful Thinking inhabit, given it’s been over two decades since the band first sprang to life? What’s the secret to your longevity from your perspective?
CARL: Honestly, I have no idea. When we broke up at the end of 2006 the whole skate punk thing was being beaten to a pulp by hardcore and emo. It’s been exciting over the last 3 years watching it make a bit of a come back and maybe that’s why people have started to take an interest in us once again. But that being said, I’ve never been good at predicting how things will go and what will happen. At the moment we’re just riding the wave and seeing where it takes us. As far as our longevity goes, being friends is essential. Too many bands break up because of internal arguments and squabbles and I think we all try to be as good to each other as we possibly can. The guys in the band have to come first. I haven’t always been the best at that (just look at how our line-up changed over the years) but I think we’re in a good place now.
TIANA: And as a band who has been in existence for a lot of shifts and turns in the industry, I’m quite intrigued to ask you: rather than ask what’s changed the most, what has changed the least in the music industry since the band first started?
CARL: The fact is that the most popular bands are not always the best. There are so many bands that produce great music that never get noticed. It’s a shame but it always seems to stay the same.
TIANA: While live music has obviously been massively on the back-burner for the majority of this year, we can briefly duck down memory lane! You’ve played alongside a pretty staggering array of bands back in the day, is there perhaps a live music memory you could share that stands out amongst others, whether it’s memorably amazing, bad or plain hilarious?
CARL: When the band was starting out, I was massively influenced by a band called MXPX. While we were promoting our first album, we were lucky enough to open for them at the Hi-Fi Bar in Melbourne. Meeting your heroes and playing alongside them is always an honour and a privilege. My favourite shows however were always our own, where the punters came to see us and show their support. A particular highlight was in 2005 at a festival outside of Sydney where our tent got rained out and they moved us to a smaller one. During the show kids were climbing up tent poles and standing all around the stage so it was like we were playing in a sea of people. That would have to be a highlight for me.
TIANA: To slowly close us out today, I brought up skate punk earlier, and of course 2020 has gifted us the re-release of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2. So, in honour of that, what’s your favourite go-to move in the game? I’m going to be unoriginal and say ‘Christ Air’ for me (but on the down-low, I spent most of my time back in the day finding it hilarious to just eat the pavement than actually pull off the move…shh).
CARL: I’ve never been much of a gamer. I just ollie, mash the buttons and see what happens!
TIANA: And lastly, while there’s obviously some amazing things in the near future for Wishful Thinking, including your impending EP release…is there anything you can reveal about what 2021 may hold for the band?
CARL: At this stage we’re waiting with bated breath to see when we can gig again. None of us have any real desire to play a punk rock show where people are social distancing, so at the moment we’ll just have to wait it out. We’re still writing all the time and plan to keep releasing songs in the new year. Be sure to keep an eye out!
WISHFUL THINKING'S EP ONE MORE TIME IS OFFICIALLY DUE OUT TOMORROW, NOVEMBER 13.
FOR PRE-SAVES, HEAD HERE.
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BY TIANA SPETER