Interview: Diving Into Wild Youth’s Sure Success Song “Through the Phone”

Wild Youth Press Shot
Wild Youth’s “Through The Phone” is an energetic and timely indie-pop hit about being separated from someone you love, and Atwood Magazine spoke with the band on its creation!
Stream: “Through the Phone” – Wild Youth
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Wild Youth are the charming four-piece storming to stardom in Ireland and throughout the UK. The band’s last single, “Next To You,” was a shimmering ’80s pop success tinged with vibrant groove infusions. In just the first week of its release, the track gained over 100,000 streams from their loyal fanbase, and Wild Youth aren’t short of music industry support either. Having opened shows for some of the biggest names in music, including Niall Horan, The Script, Zara Larson, and Kodaline, Wild Youth are now making a mark on the industry in their own right.

Through The Phone Artwork
Through the Phone – Wild Youth

Made up of lead vocalist David Whelan, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Conor O’Donohoe, lead guitarist Ed Porter, and drummer Callum McAdam, Wild Youth are known for their high-energy performances and faultless pop bangers. On November 13th, Wild Youth will release their next single, “Through the Phone.”

“Through The Phone” is Wild Youth’s new arena-ready track that emotively addresses the difficulties of staying connected with loved ones, while enduring a physical distance. The track is primed with tender verses, an entrancing chorus, and lyrics that, after this year’s events, are sure to resound with listeners across the world. Atwood Magazine is pleased to premiere Wild Youth’s single “Through the Phone,” offer reader’s a first listen of the sure success song, and provide insight into the song’s creation!

Whelan and O’Donohoe sat down with Atwood Magazine to talk about their upcoming EP, how one of Ed Sheeran’s quotes keeps them motivated in the studio, and the creation of the new single.

Stream: “Through The Phone” – Wild Youth
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Through The Phone Artwork

Atwood Magazine: Hey guys! Last month, you released ''Next to You,'' which got an amazing reception. So congratulations on that! You’ve got another track ready for release very soon, how does it feel to get back into the swing of releasing music after the year we’ve all had?

David Whelan: Yeah, it’s so nice to be releasing music again, and to be back out there doing what we’re doing. Obviously, we’re missing our gigs, but to be releasing music is amazing.

I can imagine! I presume you’ve been back in the studio recently working on these releases. So, what can we expect next? Is there an album on the cards for 2021?

Conor O’Donohoe: Yeah, it’ll be an EP probably early next year, and then we’ve got all this time, so why not start writing an album?

I think everyone has a lot of time at the moment, haven’t they?

Conor: Yeah, there’s nothing else happening really.

Wild Youth Press Image
Wild Youth © 2020

That's true. So when you guys are writing, how do you know you’ve written an off the chart single that you know is the one?

David: When Conor’s dad likes it.

Is he the one with good taste?

Conor: Eh…no! I think you just know it’s got a different feeling to it. A single always feels slightly different, and you can gauge it from the people in your close circle too. We all have two or three people that we do an acid test on. You just know by their reactions which song has the magic in it. We’re also lucky to have labels and management to help too. Although, as a band, we normally know which songs are the strongest contenders to be singles.

Yeah, that makes complete sense. Well, you guys have written some great singles, but is there any record or track that you think is so fantastic that you wish you’d written?

Conor: Yeah, so many.

David: There’s so many that you could choose.

Conor: Do I Wanna Know by The Arctic Monkeys, Lost In Yesterday by Tame Impala.

David: I love Labrinth’s Jealous. That’s what came to mind for me.

Conor: Fix You by Coldplay, And Then I Kissed Her by The Beach Boys, Someone You Love by Lewis Capaldi. How long do we have?

As long as you want, there are 40 minutes on the call so go for it!

David: And it’ll just be 40 minutes of us naming songs.

Conor: Oh, there’s actually a song by an Irish artist called Ryan McMullen. He has a song called Oh Susanna, and I always wish I’d written that song.

Wild Youth © 2020

Which bit? The lyrics, melody, or anything specific?

Conor: Just everything. Honestly, every time I listen to that song it gives me butterflies.

David: Rome by Dermot Kennedy too.

Conor: I think we’ve probably got enough now

David: Maybe we could just make an album out of all those songs. We can do a karaoke album of all our favourite songs that we wish we’d written.

That’s pretty niche, but you know, if it flies it flies. You’ve worked and toured with some of the biggest artists in the industry, so you must have picked up some insider tips for touring or knuckling down to write a record. What’s the best advice someone gave you?

Conor: Yeah! Leave your ego at the door. Nothing outweighs the song. The song is the most important thing in the room at all times, and don’t let your ego come in the way of writing the song. Someone also said “All shit is fertilizer” and I just love that. I think that’s a great saying. Somedays, you’re in the studio, and you’re writing a bad song, and you think “I’m just not good.” One day someone just said to me, “don’t worry cause all shit is fertilizer.” Ed Sheeran also said that if you turn a tap on that hasn’t been on for ages, you get loads of dirty water, but if you keep letting the tap run, you’ll eventually get to the clear water. So, no matter what, you just gotta keep going, keep trying, and get in there every day. If you don’t stop, you’ll eventually get to that clear water.

I love those sayings, I'm definitely going to use them. So, on those tours, you played some incredible venues and you must have had great fun on the road. Have you got any spectacular or ridiculous tour stories, or are your antics top secret?

Conor: David, you should tell the story of Paris.

David: Well, we were supporting Kodaline around Europe, and it was like we were interrailing. It was our first experience of traveling outside of Ireland and going around Europe playing gigs, seeing these beautiful cities, and visiting places we hadn’t been. Our first night was in Paris, and we were all very nervous already because we hadn’t played to a crowd outside Ireland before. We were shitting ourselves basically. I can lose the run of myself up there and get a bit too energetic, so I have to calm myself down, or I end up doing stupid things and demolishing the stage. During the first song, I was running across the stage, and my leg got tangled up in Ed’s guitar lead. I jumped and spun, or something ridiculous, and I ended up ripping the jack out of his amp and completely broke it. The amp just started screaming, literally like a pig. Wasn’t it Conor?

Conor: You have to remember, this is night one of the tour, the first song, the first show, the first time even being in Paris. I remember playing Loose Control and then all I hear is this mad noise. I looked over, and Ed is so panicked and flustered because the lead is totally snapped.

David: It was sparking out of the amp and all.

Conor: It wasn’t good.

Wild Youth © 2020

Well, at least it can only go up from there.

David: We had to laugh. Well, we laughed, Ed was traumatised. We just had to say sorry for the technical difficulties but I felt so sorry for Ed.

He must have had absolutely no idea what was going on.

David: None of us did, even me, and I’d done it! I didn’t have a clue what had happened.

On the topic of live shows, we have to talk about it. Gigs and tours aren’t actually going ahead right now. How much are you missing playing live shows? I know I’m missing going to gigs like crazy, so it must be even harder for you guys!

David: Of course. As a band, that’s probably our favourite thing to do. It’s at the top of the list for me anyway. To not be able to do it feels like we’re missing a limb and it’s probably the longest I’ve ever gone in my whole life without playing some sort of gig. Whether it was busking or playing in a pub, this is the longest I’ve ever gone without performing, it’s strange. You just have to try and be positive. There are people in worse positions than me, and us as a band. We have a roof over our heads and we’re able to come and talk to you and do this sort of stuff as well as release songs. So we can just wish and hope that they come back sooner rather than later.

Conor: But, it is shite.

David: It is super shite.

So on a real note, it’s absolutely rubbish.

Conor: Yeah, it’s depressing.

Wild Youth © 2020

Live shows are obviously such an important part of your lives, and they help you connect with your supporters, and build your fan base. Is there anything you’ve been doing to replace that? A lot of people have been doing TikTok and social media gigs. Do you think that’s the future?

Conor: I mean, TikTok is definitely the future, but the future for some people. We have TikTok, and we almost treat it like a prank channel.

David: It’s a different platform from our music.

Conor: So, I’m not sure TikTok will ever change our musical careers while live shows aren’t around. But you never know, we might get our own TV show on MTV.

David: TikTok is more for people to see what we’re like as people. We’re all just best mates who mess around all the time and take the piss out of each other. So, that’s where we are with TikTok, and then we have our serious musician side.

Conor: But you never know, there could be an Irish Jackass coming your way. An Irish Jackass that sing sad bangers and we’ll just do a gig at the end of it and cry.

You should pitch it! What was the last show you went to before lockdown then? Did you know that it would be the last show for a while?

Conor: It was The 1975.

That was my last show too!

Conor: Yeah, they were on tour around that time.

David: Mine and Conor’s birthdays are two days apart, so we went because the show fell between our birthdays, and we didn’t know there would be a lockdown at all. That was as it was just coming into Ireland. I was hungover for two or three days after and bam we were going into lockdown.

Conor: And then the hangover got worse. It’s been a hangover for eight months now it just won’t go away.

Wild Youth © 2019

You’ve mentioned how live shows are a massive part of Wild Youth, so when you’re writing a track do you think much about how it will come across live and how you can make it sound great for shows? Or does that come after?

Conor: I think we write a song and just write that song. We’re very lucky to have Ed and Callum, who are musical gods, in the band as well. So, we know whatever we write, they will make it sound amazing and we’ll join in. We definitely take it into consideration, but once a song is a Wild Youth song, it’s a Wild Youth song. We’re very focused people. So, when we go into the studio its like tunnel vision until we get a song or record done. It’s the same when we rehearse those songs, we don’t leave that room until we make the song sound like it does on a record, or even better. No matter how long that takes, if its hours or weeks, we stay on those songs until we get them perfect.

Do you ever find yourself changing arrangements when it comes to shows, or do you try to make it as similar to how it sounds on the record as possible?

Conor: I think we try and make it sound as similar to how it does on the record because that’s how people hear it, and that’s how they like it.

David: They’re coming to hear that song.

Conor: If you wanna change it, why didn’t you make it like that in the first place? We normally stick to a similar arrangement, but we mess with things like intros or outros. I do get it sometimes, but if I go to a show and I love a song, then the artist says “I’m gonna do a different version of this song,” I think, “no, play the song the way I love the song! Put the acoustic down, put it down!” Oh, I’m only joking! But we like to keep the song as it is and just mess around with intros and outros.

David: And the links!

Conor: Actually, I’m such a hypocrite! On our last tour, we totally changed the arrangement.

Wild Youth © 2019

Have you just realised that?

Conor: Yeah, we stripped it right down, and played it acoustically.

So, you’re that person.

Conor: I’m a dick, pretty much.

David: I think that “Put down the guitar” comment you made was actually at yourself in the mirror there.

Conor: Yeah! I apologise, maybe we can edit that out.

David: No, keep it, it’s real.

Yeah, it’s real, it’s legit! So, through lockdown, what themes have been inspiring you guys? Are there any topics or feelings that are really guiding your writing right now?

Conor: Love, self-doubt and how much energy we use as a band while in the studio and touring. It’s constant, and your whole life is on the go. So, when you’re alone and stop, you realise how much you’re living in your own head, overthinking and beating yourself up. You can feel so useless when what your whole life is based around is taken away from you. I think there’s plenty of themes, but self-doubt and where your mind can wander are some of the biggest. Love is another one because people have used this time to connect and spend quality time with loved ones.

Wild Youth © 2019

I think everyone experiences feelings of self-doubt and overthinking, so they're very relatable topics to draw on.

Conor: You start to think you’re going crazy, but when have we ever been left with this much time to just think? When you can’t focus your energy on what you do every day and positive things, like working, it just goes into another place. It goes into overdrive, and suddenly the one small thing that you thought of is a giant catastrophe in your head within 10 minutes. We catastrophise all the time.

And sometimes when you say it aloud, you hear what you’re saying, and it sounds much smaller and less important.

Conor: And other times, people go “What? Where have you gone to?” But I suppose that’s the power of the mind.

It’s a nightmare! Finally, to finish off the interview, when your fans or new listeners hear a Wild Youth song, is there anything you hope they take away from your music?

David: I hope it makes them feel happy, warm inside, and accepted. We always say that we want our music to go further than us and to create friendships and bonds. So I hope people listen to our music and feel at home.

Conor: I also think the amazing thing about music is that when I listen to some of my favourite songs or artists, I hear the lyrics and think “Oh my god, they went through that too. I went through that exact same thing!” It makes you feel not so alone or as crazy as you think you are. It’s nice when your lyrics can translate, and people feel comfortable in the fact that others have gone through a very similar heartbreak or happiness. There’s a lot of people that go through similar shit all the time.

And that must be good for a fanbase. If they feel they have gone through similar things to you guys and each other, that’s when it becomes a unit.

David: Exactly.

Conor: That’s when it becomes a family.

— —

Through The Phone Artwork

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