Dig Baton Rouge

Space. Indie. Pop.

BR band Wumbo refuses to be defined

When you think of the music blossoming in Baton Rouge the words space, indie, and pop are probably not what first come to mind; however, the band Wumbo is rapidly changing that. After releasing their self-titled EP in December, Wumbo has become a name familiar to most venues’ lineups, whether they are headlining at the Varsity or nestling their five members into a living room for a house show.

The band is compiled of Kevin McCabe on drums, Zak Ocmand on bass, Tanner Yeldell on keys and experimental sounds, along with Mitchell Mobley and Jake Heflin, both on vocals, guitar, and keys. The band’s dynamic of having two front men is something Mobley and Heflin said has helped round out their music by incorporating different writing styles, and was something that just came naturally.

“It really has been an organic thing, and I don’t feel like it’s sharing, or giving and taking, from either one of us. Since the beginning of Wumbo it’s been a two singer project, so it hasn’t been forced. I think that’s actually really helped with making it appear more organic on stage and sound more organic too,” Heflin said.

The band’s music experiments with texture and ambient sounds, while providing commentary on things happening in life and society that don’t always have conclusions. The song “Circles” is one that always gets penciled into the lineup, and was the first song Mobley and Heflin collaborated on together.

“This is kind of silly, but I wrote it right after a breakup and so it was a breakup song. But since time has passed it means other things to me now. Jake says it’s communication difficulties, and a being in and out of sync with people in your life kind of thing,” said Mobley.

Heflin agreed. “I think as an outside perspective listening to the song early on in the process, you could see where it could be a breakup song, but that’s not where I went to immediately. To me, it was a song that had a couple of different parties, that were close to aligning, but not really getting there. That’s what I felt was at the heart of the song.”

Wumbo’s sets usually incorporate other songs from their EP like the melodic “Hillsides” and a song about cowboys, “True American Hero,” but the band likes to throw in a few covers as well. With Radiohead being one of their influencers, “No Surprises” fits in with Wumbo’s sound, as well as their Latin-styled rendition of the song “Linger” by the Cranberries.

They took this set list on the road for their first tour at the end of last month, returning to record some new songs, in hopes of another album by the end of the year. Heflin said their new song “Portrait” has become his favorite one to play, and says he drew inspiration from the events that took place during the 2016 election of Donald Trump.

“It’s kind of a reaction, I guess not necessarily against two entities, but two entities that are fighting from very distant spaces. So, taking a lot of inspiration from seeing how that election played out over Facebook and TV. And just seeing these bitter anecdotes delivered from people you don’t necessarily know and making your own enemy,” said Heflin.

You can see Wumbo, August 28, at Varsity Theatre with Quarx and RiaRosa. Listen to their EP on Apple Music, Itunes, and Spotify or on their website
wumbowumbowumbo.com and be sure to follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Photos by Blair Thompson

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