Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Tripper And The Wild Things

Artwork for ‘Boomerang Kids.’ Courtesy of Auteur Research.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Revolved around the theme of self-discovery within the realm of coming into your own as a young adult, energetic Hamilton, Ontario-based alternative/surf rock quartet Tripper And The Wild Things recently dropped their new EP ‘Boomerang Kids.’

Tripper And The Wild Things are vocalist/guitarist Josh Keillor, bassist Eric Tarquinio, guitarist James Puntillo and drummer Brian MacMahon.

The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with the band about ‘Boomerang Kids’ and more.

Music Bugle – How did you decide the band name? 

Josh Keillor – We wanted something different and out there. Tripper is the name of Bill Murray’s character in the movie, “Meatballs” and “the wild things” is pulled from the children’s book, “Where The Wild Things Are.” Both classics. 

Music Bugle – How would you describe Hamilton, Ontario to someone who has never been there before?

James Puntillo – Hamilton is a chameleon. It’s whatever you want it to be, really. It’s gritty and real no matter what – and that’s the kind of reputation it often attracts. It has a diverse music and arts scene, and more and more bands spring up every year. It has beautiful green space that literally cuts right through the city because of the Niagara Escarpment that separates the city into upper – “the mountain” – and lower – “downtown.” McMaster University is a spark of life in the Fall. You can drive 10 kilometers East or West and find the best suburbia in Southern Ontario. Take Highway 6 North into Waterdown or Flamborough and it’s all farms and stables and burgeoning subdivisions. Go into Dundas and it feels like you’re in a pre-confederate town in the US. Downtown Hamilton looks like old-town Brooklyn or parts of Toronto. We have a beautiful waterfront and a ton of waterfalls – which have both become super popular with tourists… thanks, pandemic!

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music? 

James Puntillo – Our music is fun to play. It’s especially fun to play live and we’ve been getting this sense that 80s-and 90s-inspired rock is making a comeback with the kids. We look at – local – bands like The Dirty Nil and feel some affinity with that gritty sound. I think that a band like The Nil, PUP, or Single Mothers are doing some amazing things with the pop-rock template, so we’re more and more excited to continue to innovate – and I mean, who doesn’t like a good high-energy track that makes you want to move around? 

Music Bugle – What is the biggest challenge in being a musical four-piece? 

Brian MacMahon – We don’t find many challenges to playing in a musical four-piece. The biggest challenge is finding time where we’re all free to practice. Josh, James and Eric have known each other a long time and have played in bands together before. I had known Josh from College as well, so I fit in nicely and we have a lot of chemistry together. Having multiple guitarists allows us to fill out our sound by layering parts and filling a larger portion of the sound spectrum. 

Music Bugle – What was your goal for the ‘Boomerang Kids’ EP? 

Eric Tarquinio – One of our main aims was finding our own groove in terms of writing and recording. The EP was our first attempt at really writing and crafting songs together. We were lucky to have worked with a dear friend and mentor of ours on the recordings – Marco Bressette, at Deadquarters Studio. He produced, engineered and mixed the release. 

Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write? 

Josh Keillor – All the songs came together pretty naturally, but the hardest to write in terms of filling everything out was probably “Boomerang Kids.” We went through quite a bit of versions and arrangements before it turned out the way it did. Hearing things live versus in the studio definitely changed our outlook for that track. 

Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians? 

Brian MacMahon – I think social media mostly helps musicians. I have tailored a lot of my social media accounts to helping me develop my skills as a drummer. I follow some of my favorite musician’s accounts and I get inspired to try new things by watching them play. Some of them even post content revolving around teaching a new idea or technique. It is important not to get too caught up in social media and let it affect your decisions as a musician or band. If you use it for what it is good for, helping connect people across the internet, then it is only beneficial for a musician or band. 

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise? 

Josh Keillor – Right now, heavily into 70’s soul/funk and 60’s surf, basically anything that makes me feel like I’m in a Tarantino movie is good to go. 

Eric Tarquinio – Right now? J. Geils Band. Specifically, the studio album, ‘Bloodshot.’

James Puntillo – Teenage Halloween, Mister Goblin, Billie Marten, Kardashev and Joni Mitchell.

Brian MacMahon – Trade Wind – “The Day We Got What We Deserved…”

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Eric Tarquinio – The pandemic forced us to slow down and focus on new material. The band has kept busy working on new ideas and arrangements virtually, however, I think I can speak for the band when I say we are all excited about recording and playing live again in the – hopefully – near future.  

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break? 

Eric Tarquinio – Everyone in the band is lucky to have professions we are all passionate about, so for myself, music has always acted as a great creative outlet outside of work and family life. In terms of getting away, I’ve always been drawn to Ontario’s “up-north.”

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