For Flavorwire, I interviewed David Wingo of Ola Podrida and numerous film soundtracks, including — most recently — Gentlemen Broncos. A number of questions, including some relating to Ola Podrida’s upcoming album Belly of the Lion, were cut for reasons of space; they appear below.
Where during this period of time did the songs for Belly of the Lion get written? The first album came out in 2007 — were the songs from Belly of the Lion all written after that?
There were a few that were holdovers. “Donkey” and “Sink or Swim” and “Lakes of Wine” had all been written not long after I wrote the songs on the first album. The rest of them, though, I did pretty quick. Going back to what I was saying about trying to focus, balancing the work — Gentlemen Broncos, there was kind of a stop. As I was doing the music last summer, I’d worked on it for about five, six weeks, and I knew they were going to do a bunch of re-shooting and some re-editing, but I knew that I was not done. I knew there was going to be about three months there where they were going to be doing some stuff, and I’d be coming back in three months. I did take that time knowing that I didn’t want to get any other jobs in the meantime, in case they coincided with Gentlemen Broncos. And I knew that after Gentlemen Broncos, I was going to be needing to get some more film work. Even though those three songs I mentioned had already been written, I took that time to do all the writing and all the recording of the accompanying parts. Writing the other songs and everything. Those three months, I was in New York at the time, I was living in Brooklyn — between sessions during Gentlemen Broncos was when I did almost that whole record. I was definitely proud that I was able to use that time wisely and keep working and make sure that I had another record to show for it once I was back on Gentlemen Broncos.
You’re credited with playing most of the instruments on Belly of the Lion — was that how it was for the first album as well?
Yeah. The first record I did all on my own. I started a band [where] the guys I started playing with were all good friends of mine. And then, it was a very long time when I did the initial recording, before it came out. So I didn’t find a label and I didn’t go mix it until a year after I’d written it. And at that point, playing with a band, we’d changed up some of the songs and worked up some things. Robert Patton, our guitarist at the time, and Matthew Frank, our drummer, went back in. [We] redid some of the songs with them playing on it. With Belly of the Lion, though — with that lineup we had, we’d worked up five new songs, none of which are on the record. They’re definitely different than the record. As a band, we’re definitely going in a different direction than that record. We were a five-piece band, so it sounded like a five-piece band, playing more poppy, rocking stuff. We never got a chance to record those, and people slowly started moving, and that lineup ceased to be. Those songs are kind of lost in the ether for now. But I wrote those songs for that particular lineup, so I still have a grand plan — we’re all still very good friends — of getting everyone together for a couple of weeks to do their songs. Because I do like them. So in the meantime, I decided, if I was going to be doing another record on my own, I picked those three I previously mentioned. Those felt like songs I could do on my own rather than with a band. The rest of the songs that I wrote, whether it was intentional or not, were things I felt more comfortable working on on my own. And then Matthew played drums on five of the tracks on Belly of the Lion.
You also played on the Wooden Birds album that came out earlier this year, right?
[Andrew] Kenney’s very nice and gives credit where credit is due, but….I just sang backup. (laughs) I would have loved to have done more. I was living in New York at the time. We had always talked about me being more involved than I ended up being. I was going to come down to Austin and do some stuff. I was busy working on Gentlemen Broncos at the time, so… But I did do the backing vocals. (laughs)
Listening to both of the Ola Podrida records, it seems like Belly of the Lion feels a little more retrospective in terms of where the lyrics are going than the first album. That’s kind of an off-the-cuff observation, and it may not be entirely accurate… But I got the impression that this had more lyrics looking back a few years…
For sure. It is a record that is steeped in a sense of nostalgia, for sure. Lyrically, that was not a conscious decision. My turntable had been broken forever. I got a new turntable; so many of my favorite records, I hadn’t gotten to listen to in a while. A lot of it’s the stuff I listened to in college: mid-90s, early-90s shoegaze and stuff like that. When I started recording the record, that was what I was listening to a lot. There was a sense of going back and listening to music I had some of my favorite records [that] I hadn’t gotten to listen to in so long. That affected the music I was making, and I’m sure it put me in a headspace of thinking back to that time, probably. Yeah. It was not really an intentional decision, like, “I’m gonna make a record that sounds like the music I listened to fifteen years ago!”