Features Interviews Wildlife's Dean Povinsky Strikes Hard

Wildlife's Dean Povinsky Strikes Hard


Interview by: Natalia Buia

It's been more than five years since indie rock band Wildlife came out of the woodworks. Late last year the five piece ensemble – the majority hailing for Oshawa, Ontario – released their debut full-length album Strike Hard, Young Diamond to rave reviews.

The 12 songs on the album aren’t your typical run-of-the-mill tunes. On the contrary, the band offers something very vibrant and refreshing than most soulful pop-rock bands in the city. Strike Hard, Young Diamond is the celebratory soundtrack to all things young, naïve but ever so hopeful.

Wildlife is still basking in the glow of divine recognition from coast to coast. The band continues to tour and promote the album. Late last month, hundreds hurdled inside the upper level of Sneaky Dee’s to experience in person the alluring exuberance from Dean Povinsky (guitar, vocals), Derek Bosomworth (bass, vocals), Dwayne Christie (drums), Tim Daugulis (keyboards) and Graham Plant (guitar).

Lead singer and guitarist Dean Povinsky says while the album was released way back in November of 2010, he continues to feel a strong connection to it.

"In some respects it took on a life of it's own. It seems like new things are always happening with it. We just had it pressed on vinyl!" says Dean. The full-length was the first thing they recorded in a holistic sense that the band was comfortable with.

The band showcased their best songs from the album during their scorching hot performance at Sneaky Dee's on May 26 (Dean wasn't lying when he claimed Wildlife is the sweatiest band in Toronto!). He goes on to explain how two of my personal favourite songs were late bloomers.

"'Killing For Fun' and 'Matches' were added a year after everything else was recorded." says Dean. "When we first put the record together, songs were chosen for their thematic unity. They all dealt with the same things, written around the same time, shared the same content. Originally, we were going to record it and mix it in 8 days. But we realized we wanted to put more into it."

As the unintimidating yet powerful front man, Dean commands the attention of all audience members wholeheartedly with his genuine love of storytelling. A trait he seems to have picked up from Bruce Springsteen, one of his many influences.

"It's the religiosity of his songs. The urgency he conveys through the way songs are built, is so epic. It's hard for people to match. And it's the big sound, too. It's the borderline religious experience of them," says Dean, who then laughed when I informed him I even go as far as to list Bruce Springsteen under "religious beliefs" on my Facebook page.

What Dean truly admires about Springsteen though, is his natural ability to use characters when discussing real life situations and feelings, at times even better than a seasoned novelist can. His distinctive songwriting is what inspires the band to pen the songs that can be found on Strike Hard, Young Diamond.

"For a while, we had some songs that were written a long time ago but we weren't necessarily in love with them. Being in a band, I have to songs and when we go on stage and play them, I believe every word."

Normally, after the songwriting process, musicians track individual songs first, and mix them many, many days later in the studio. For Wildlife, putting heart and soul into one song at a time felt more appropriate.

"When we first started, because we were trying to move quickly, we were recording a song and then doing a mix right away after. When we put hours into mixing away, you crank up the volume in the studio and everyone gets all excited. We got that payoff quicker than you normally would when you make a record," says Dean.

They worked steadily during the preproduction phase. The entire recording process was self-directed, according to Dean. The band spent four straight days in the studio: eating, sleeping, working and at times, overcoming obstacles.

"It's very much a team effort. People fall into certain roles, right? If someone's so adamant about something, like it's a hill they're willing to die on, you have to take it into consideration. When you’re recording, you're working too hard on it and it's easy to lose sight on the whole picture," says Dean.

The tour continues for the city-slicking quintet. They're playing shows out West before coming back home for the NXNE Festival where they'll conquer the crowd of music lovers at the Horseshoe Tavern on June 18.