The pandemic lockdown gave Natalie Newbold the necessary time to write lyrics for her indie rock outfit Well Wisher’s second LP titled That Weight. It also gave her a lot of time to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite.
“I put a lot more energy in the lyrics than I have with any of my projects,” explains East Brunswick native Newbold. “At some points, it was hard and maybe I overdid it. I would rewrite, rewrite and rewrite. The end result was worth it, and I pushed myself to dive deeper. For the past couple of years I’ve been getting deeper into poetry, and I needed the lyrics to push the boundaries of what I do.’’
Not only was Newbold pleased with how the lyrics turned out, she was also happy with how she got to deliver those lyrics.
“This was one of the best performances for me singing-wise,” explains Newbold. “We had a really nice mic set up in a room, but I was singing into a crappy mic that was plugged into a distorted amplifier. I could yell and be aggressive when I wanted to be, but also I could sing softly. It was a different technique than I have ever tried, but it made me feel my performance.”
Newbold got what she wanted out of the recording experience, and was able to explore topics such as aging and expectations in the record, as she does in the song “29.”
“’29’ is a song I wrote when I was in a really weird headspace,” explains Newbold. “It was around the time I was turning 29 and especially as musicians, we put all these timelines on ourselves. Like if my band isn’t touring nationally by the time I’m 25, I failed life. It’s just unrealistic expectations, and it’s not what playing music is about. The only measure of success with being in a band and being able to play music with your friends and peers is having fun with it, and having it be a fulfilling and amazing experience. I was in the process of reframing it and relearning it.
“My mom called me on the phone and I was being really rude, and I hung up. That’s when I wrote the whole song. I was in a moment in life where I was disappointed with these unrealistic expectations that I set on myself. No one else in the world is like, ‘Yeah man, you’re a loser if you are still playing music in a band when you are 30.’ It’s not real life. A lot of that song is me feeling angry at myself for feeling that way.”
For a while, Newbold had these expectations for her band, and she gives thanks to her fellow bandmates for pulling herself out of that thinking.
“I definitely have to thank my bandmates for helping me get to a better place with it,” says Newbold. “They are a positive crew and all have serious 9-5 jobs, and still tour and do as much music stuff as musically possible. The joy of being in a band far outweighs any of those expectations. If you’re not enjoying the journey getting there, why are you doing it in the first place? If you’re focused on making the next step up you’re not going to enjoy where you are at the moment. In my 20s I didn’t really appreciate those moments in music as much. I have been having a blast with this record.”
Newbold is now enjoying the moments that she used to take for granted, like the moment of coming together and making music.
“The coolest part of this record is four people coming together, and asking, what makes me excited about music?,” says Newbold. “What makes me excited about music? What makes me excited about listening and playing music? It was mostly finding out how we could do that in the context of the songs I have written. It was a lot of demoing back and forth and sending each other ideas. Once it came time to go in the studio we were way more prepared than with our first record. Everyone was confident about their parts and what we were trying to do.
“With this record we were trying to go for a Pinkerton tongue-in-check musically with more heart in it, and a little bit of In Utero sounds. We had such a blast recording these songs, and it comes across in the record. I listen back to the songs and think how fun it was to record.”
One of the ways that That Weight differs from the band’s first LP, This is Fine, is that the band is more comfortable with playing around with their influences.
“We all come together around the punk-rock spectrum,” says Newbold. “But we are all a little bit all over the place. Lynsey (Vandenberg, bass and backing vocals) loves underground DIY punk, Lukas (Dalakian, guitars andvocals) loves bands like Illuminati Hotties, Pup and Manchester Orchestra, and then Matt (Viani, drums) loves metal. I’m kind of all over the place and I love all kinds of music from country to hip-hop to rock. My biggest songwriting influences come from that ’90s world of Elliott Smith, Built to Spill and Pavement, but I also love newer bands like Phoebe Bridgers and Hop Along. I’m kind of all over the place.’’
Newbold got her start in music growing up in East Brunswick, and the suburban experience shaped her interest in music.
“East Brunswick was cool,” says Newbold. “It’s definitely very suburban and there are a lot of kids and not a lot to do. So a lot of my friends and I would play music a lot and try to be creative, and make a scene here. We would throw a show in my friend’s backyard called CuddleFest, and it was a cool place to grow up and a nice place to have a beginning in DIY.”
Well Wisher’s second LP That Weight will be released on Sept. 16. For more information about the band, go here.