Portland Musicians Corner With DJ Sonic Szilvi – Interview with The Wild Jumps

Well, let me start out by saying, if you want to go to a show to chill and relax, The Wild Jumps are probably not the band you want to see. However, if you have massive energy and you want to get your heart pumping while drinking beer, this band could be your match made in heaven.

Watching these guys is totally fun and brought back some fun memories of my own punk rock days in Germany. The name is truly appropriate because these guys rock the stage and staying still is the least thing on their minds.

Allie Riot provides the voice, Gab-A-Tron 42069 the bass, Vincent Kicks the guitar, and Okie Sticks the drum beats. Let’s jump right in and find out some more about The Wild Jumps.

Usually I ask bands about the origins of their band names, but in this case it speaks for itself (laughs). So let’s move on to another question. How did you guys meet? How did this band become reality?

Riot: When we moved to Portland it was a slow process of finding the final fit. I met Warren (Okie Sticks) at a party my coworker invited me to. I thought it was a college party, which already made me feel ancient, but it turned out it was a high school graduation party.  Awkward, but I got a good drummer out of the whole ordeal! Gabby was the last killer puzzle piece in a band that doesn’t like to sit on their asses.

Kicks: Allie and I lived together for about seven years before realizing we both enjoyed playing music and performing together. Although we were facing a comfy life with good jobs and a solid routine, we realized we were way too young for that and needed to do something crazy. After about six months of going to open mics every week and playing shitty punk covers, we began writing our own music, eventually forming The Wild Jumps. We started playing monthly at a few of our favorite bars in Fairbanks, and soon needed to move to Portland so we could play all up and down the northwest. The opportunities for venues and towns to play in this area is unbeatable. We knew that in Portland we could find the right people to play with. I don’t feel that The Jumps really got formed until we met Okie and Gabatron.

Okie: I met A-Riot at a house party that me and my girlfriend were throwing. She saw my drum kit and was ecstatic about getting me to try out for The Wild Jumps. I did that, and the rest was practically history. As clichéd as it sounds, Allie Riot and Vincent Kicks saved me from a toxic relationship, with the power of punk!

Gabatron: Adam (Vincent Kicks) and Allie found me at the perfect time. I joined a band before The Jumps and it didn’t work out really. So I left with my friends to the Symbiosis Eclipse Festival for a week and when I came back I got a message on Facebook from Allie asking if I wanted to join. Oh yeah, they found my account on Bandmix. So we met up at my work before Allie had to leave for her job. She was wearing sick colorful pants and Adam wore his favorite tan skinny jeans. Basically, they had no choice. I was joining the band.

Why punk?

Riot: For me it comes down to the attitude. I’m sick of going out and seeing people wallow in their misery on stage. Yeah, I hate some things about life too but I want to try and do something about it! I want to inspire my audience to keep fighting the good fight!  Complaining solves nothing. Get at the root of the issue and stomp it out: politically, personally, it doesn’t matter. The punk music I like is the music that fuels change, so that’s what I want to play. For better or worse, punk nowadays is such a gigantic umbrella of music that we can play lots of different styles. It’s a difficult genre to play in terms of finding the right crowd because on one hand you have hardcore screamo punk and on the other you have the high male whine of emo/pop punk. We like to align ourselves with a more first generation punk sound while still allowing ourselves to play outside the hard and fast boundaries. All that means is that fans of “punk” might not think we play punk music sometimes. But as long as we are using our music to try and fight what we see wrong with the world, and try to use our moments of anger to incite change and action, then we classify it as punk. So why not try and change the world for the better to the tune of fun, high-energy, good music?

Kicks: I enjoy most genres of rock, but punk was the only type that became more than music to me. The defiant attitude of early punk and the heavy social commentary made it easy for me to relate to. It really helped drive me to improve my life, which sometimes involves defying certain social norms or standards. No other music I have heard has had such a positive impact.

Okie: We pride ourselves on being goofy while also delivering a powerful punch. Punk music was running through our veins from birth, and we embrace the hell out of it. When we formed the band, we knew there was no other genre that we wanted to play. It happened naturally.

Gabatron: Why Trump?

Have you ever played anything else than punk? Would you consider playing anything other than punk?

Riot: A lot of our songs could be classified as blues rock or garage rock, but the way we write our lyrics and style our performance will always make us a punk band. For us, punk is more an attitude than a finite genre of music, so if our attitude is right, and we continue playing what we love and putting on a high energy kick-ass show, it’s gonna be punk.

Kicks: As long as our shows are mostly high energy and our lyrics are personal, I will be playing whatever genre our sound gets classified as. We have a few slower ballads we play, but the overall feel of our show, including those slow songs is that of creating an energetic show that people will remember. I enjoy music and bands that are good pub music or background dinner music, but I am only interested in playing when we can really connect with an audience. The performance is everything. The connection with the crowd yelling and dancing along is where my passion really lies. I guess that type of sound and show is mostly hand in hand with punk or rock music so, yeah, I guess that is what I am gonna play.

Okie: I used to play in a small high school band with my best friend where we covered Kings of Leon, Queens of the Stone Age, and wrote a few crappy originals. I then went off to college in San Diego where I joined a jazz band as their percussionist. I have such a fucking great time playing punk drums and infusing my jazz and alternative rock roots. I will consider going back to jazz drumming when I get older.

Gabatron: I used to just play Tool/psychedelic inspired music in a shed down by the river with some old friends. I want to play metal and psychedelic music later in life.

I always like to hear about the crazy & and funny experiences that can happen when doing shows. Do you have any of those stories?

Okie: Canada! That fucking story makes me really pissed at myself. Canadian drunk tanks are pretty tolerable, eh?

Gabatron: Breaking my leg in Canada. Being drunk did not mask the fact that my leg felt like a bag of crushed potato chips. Upside, I did not lose a leg, fun story to tell. Downside, the oxy was horrific.

Kicks: No more booking Canadian shows with people who you meet at Eclipse Festivals.

Riot: Oh boy, where do we even begin with this one? We played a festival in British Columbia. It seemed like a pretty big outdoor show in a cool small town, so why the hell not? We head out to the spot to help with last minute set up. As we park our van, I lay eyes on the guy running this whole shebang and think “oh no!” This guy, henceforth known as DunderHead, clearly doesn’t have a logistical bone in his body. There is so, so much work to be done. We start clearing brush and hanging lights. The stages aren’t even fully set up, and they tell us they have been working for days getting it ready. Days! To top off this nonsense we find out that the fifty other bands that we are supposed to be playing with are all DJ’s. We are the only live music act in the entire two day festival. After two hours busting our butts to make this thing happen, DunderHead starts yelling “Stop! Stop! We have to move!” It turns out he never got permission from the land owners to have a festival on their property. Three hours from the start and we have no venue. On top of that he asked us to front $500 for booze for the festival, to which we responded with our most polite “go fuck yourself.”  Forty-five minutes after the thing was supposed to start, we are at a new, even crappier location. We are one of three acts that showed up on time, and he doesn’t have the DJ station set up, so they hand us one extension cord from the generator and tell us to start. Surprisingly, this is where the story starts getting ridiculous. We set up and start, cause at this point, fuck it. While we are playing, they start unplugging our amps and mics to plug in stuff for the DJ table. At one point DunderHead came up to me while I was singing and told me he was gonna unplug my microphone for a second, and then proceeded to actually do it. One of the DJ’s was kind enough to run sound for us, and he tried so hard to get the party of six doofus morons to not unplug our shit, but they were just relentless. None of us cared when our set got cut short by their generator problems. At this point we just wanted to get the hell out there.

Afterwards, we have quite possibly the best 45 minute drive ever, loudly singing along to The Scorpions and Def Leppard. We go to the airbnb, before hitting the bars to make the best of the night, and there Warren falls down a flight of stairs onto Gabby. Her leg is very clearly messed up. The airbnb people are freaking out, but we get her in the van and take her to urgent care. After about an hour the hospital staff let us back to see her. They tell us that Gabby has to be transported four hours to the nearest town to a facility equipped to handle the kind of surgery she needed. This would have been a more serious moment but Gabby, who already has a sitcom-side-character kinda personality, is now totally doped up on morphine and belting “I Wanna Be Sedated” at the top of her lungs. We have a video of it in our Facebook page. Gabby gets taken by ambulance and the rest of us pile into a motel room to sleep, because we aren’t welcome back at the Airbnb.

After we hunker down, Warren says he needs to grab something from the van. He was feeling really down and guilty about the accident and we are a little worried about leaving him by himself so Gabby’s friend goes with him. Adam and I pass out and the next thing we know, we wake up and Warren is nowhere to be found. It’s below freezing outside and the bars are closed. Adam and I head out in search of Warren. We are in a foreign country, so none of our phones are working. The cherry on this whole shit pie is that Warren has our car keys. We walk around the entire town. Eventually, after calling the police, we find out that he was picked up trying to break into a van downtown. Our van was not parked downtown. He is safely in the drunk tank, and we go back to the motel to sleep.  

All’s well that ends well, we made it back alive, got Gabby a wheelchair for shows, and spray painted our logo on that sucker. We performed a week later at a Halloween show dressed as hospital patients!

I like to add some fantasy questions to my interviews, I believe in day dreaming. So, let’s assume this guy walks up to your band at a show, presenting you with two pills, a blue pill and a red pill (yes, yes the Matrix reference, haha!) Now the red pill gives unlimited access to the best gear ever, you can have any instruments and equipment your hearts desire. The blue pill means you can do shows anywhere you want; any continent, any country, any city. Now, here is the catch. The gear is yours to keep, but the tours are unpaid. Which pill would you choose, and why?

Riot: Blue pill all the way! Playing shows is an experience unlike any other. I can build or buy gear at any time, the years of work that went into putting on the kind of show we do? That is what I want to put out in the world. It was a long journey for me to get on that stage and do what I do, and ultimately that is what drives me to keep doing shows and connecting with crowds. If it was money I was after, I’d be in a cover band.

Kicks: The blue pill, no question. Gear is cool and fun, and totally a worthwhile hobby or interest. I totally love to talk tones, speakers, and pedals! For me though, the shows are the reason I play. It can be fun to see and play quality gear but, in reality, gear isn’t very personal. Almost anyone can save up and buy a nice guitar. I enjoy the moments. Stories and memories to reflect upon and share as I continue through life.

Okie: I choose the red pill. Buy my dream kit of a Ludwig Vistalite set in blue with the 26” bass drum, then start stocking my house with gear galore. Since I’m not getting paid for my shows, I would use musical equipment for almost everything. Drum skin plates, drumstick chopsticks, guitar case sheets, and a cymbal bag bed.

Gabatron: Red pill. I can make the blue pill happen without matrix drugs.

And, the final question brings us back to reality. What can we expect to see from The Wild Jumps in the near and far future? What are you working on right now?

Riot: We are kind of a baby band in that we haven’t been playing music for all that long.  The more we work at it, the better we get. Trust me, we are working! We like to write new stuff, so there will always be more to hear from us. Our goal has always been to play shows, and we end up playing outside of Portland a lot, so we don’t oversaturate the market. Keep an eye out for our shows in town!

Kicks: Right now we are going on our first tours. One at the end of the month for eight days, and then another in the summer for a month or more. The goal is to play in some new areas, meet people, and explore a bit more of the country. We are establishing a good fan base in Portland, Eugene, and Tacoma, but we are always looking to expand and play new areas and meet new people. Along with the tours, we are writing new songs this spring. We are always folding new songs into our set. Writing improves not only our skills, but we tend to write better songs each time, so our set is constantly improving as well.

Okie: We have a month long tour, starting mid July, to promote our new album. We have local shows in the Pacific Northwest until the tour. We are also working on getting an ep released before the summer tour. We are hoping we can plan a nationwide tour for 2019. See you out on the road!

Gabatron: Longer hair and music packed with all the spice.

Thank you so much for doing this interview for the Freeform Portland visitors!

More info on The Wild Jumps can be found at their website or Facebook page.

DJ Sonic Szilvi, a European native, joined the Portland music scene a few years ago, currently playing bass for two active bands and one on hiatus. She recently joined the Freeform Portland family as a DJ. Sonic Szilvi hosts the weekly show Dark Noise Radio