Wren are one of my favourite underground bands. Their sound is rooted in the darker aspects of the underground scene yet sounds fresh, exciting, and interesting. Getting to speak to Rob from the band, we got to chat about their origins, their gigs with A Horse Called War, their history with Holy Roar Records, their excellent EP Host, upcoming plans, and Converge.
Jack: Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to speak to me. How are you doing?
Rob Letts (Bass/Vocals): Hi dude. Thanks for the invitation.
Jack: So how did Wren form?
Rob: Wren was formed a few years ago out of a need for Chris (Guitar) and Owen (Guitar/Vocals) to create heavy, primarily guitar-based music. The initial manifestation of the band was an instrumental concept, but was expanded upon when Alex (Vocals) expressed an interest in performing on the self titled EP. Each release since has seen various lineup changes that have shifted the style of the band slightly. The most notable of which was when Alex departed to reform his old band Throats, after our 2015 split with Irk. Owen picked up primary vocal responsibilities alongside his guitar duties from thereon out. We view the latest lineup / stylistic approach on Host as the first true incarnation of the band, and it’s creative aims.
Jack: As a band it is clear there are a wide range of influences in play, what bands are the biggest influence to Wren?
Rob: As this is a constantly shifting thing, there are really too many to mention. Artists that push the boundaries of the genre they inhabit usually capture our attention the most significantly. Obvious comparisons will always be made, and we’d prefer to leave that to other people’s evaluations.
Jack: Has being from London been an influence on Wren?
Rob: Sonically, I don’t think geography has had any kind of impact on our sound, but logistically and emotionally, sure. London is it’s own beast. It isn’t all hang-outs and culture discovery, as it can also an oppressive, emotionally distracting, and an expensive place to live. It goes without saying that there are far tougher places to live in the world.
Jack: Have any films or pieces of art played a part in the creation of Wren’s sound?
Rob: Reflections of various literary works make their way into our lyrics, but no visual influences have made an oblique impact on our sound so far. In regards to the artwork designs for specific releases, there is a melting pot of aesthetics that we take into regard. Again, naming these may inhibit the listener’s ability to view works as singular entities, so we’d prefer to remain vague on this topic.
Jack: In March you played two shows with A Horse Called War, how did these shows go for you?
Rob: Great. They’re a sight to behold on stage. We played with them at the Black Heart in Camden and The Waiting Room in Colchester, two awesome venues. The Waiting Room is a unique space for creative projects that every band should play. We were fed, watered, and everyone treated each other decently. Hopefully we’ll be invited back at some point.
Jack: You also played the warm up for Holy Roar Records’ 10th Anniversary, how did it go?
Rob: It was perfect. We’re fortunate to have joined the Holy Roar circle in time to be part of such a significant celebration.
Jack: How does it feel to be part of the Holy Roar family?
Rob: It’s been nothing but a pleasure. Alex (Fitzpatrick, Head of Holy Roar Records) has supported us with everything we’ve wanted to do up this point, and there’s never been any doubt in the process. We’ve been given true artistic freedom, which is all we can ask for.
Jack: When did you first meet Alex from Holy Roar?
Rob: At Spitalfield Record Fair in London. We went down to the HR stand to deliver the first batch of Host records.
Jack: Your latest release Host was released on Holy Roar, are you happy with the response?
Rob: Yes. It’s been great so far. The video that Gardenback made for ‘No Seance’ has seemed to resonate with people more than anything in our output to date.
Jack: To me, it seems darker and heavier than your self-titled release, what inspired the darker route?
Rob: It’s worth noting that the two releases were almost two years apart from each other, and as always with every lineup change comes a slight spin on a unit’s output. I joined the band as a 3rd songwriting contributor played a part in shifting the focus towards darker, noisier, and more experimental sonic territory, where we’ve found ourselves to be the most natural as a group. The sound on Host has been cemented, and there will be a marked continuation of it’s themes on our next release.
Jack: What was the biggest challenge when making the album?
Rob: Finding space for all of our ideas. Sonic and conceptual clarity are very important to us as songwriters. Logistically, time and budget is also a weighty consideration. We’re [going to record in] two weeks with Misha Hering at Holy Mountain Studio for this very reason.
Jack: You’ve also done some shows with your label mates OHHMS and Conjurer, how have they been going?
Rob: We’ve played with OHHMS and Conjurer a few times in the past. Both great bands, doing good things.
Jack: You’re also opening for Minsk and Kowloon Walled City where you will be returning to the Camden Underworld. What do you like about this venue?
Rob: The Underworld will always have a special relevance to us due to the huge amount of shows we all attended there in our formative years as musicians. Most recently our current lineup witnessed SUMAC there, which left us all speechless. We’re all big fans of Kowloon Walled City, so it’s very flattering to be asked to share the stage with them.
Jack: What other shows and plans do you have coming up?
Rob: We’re recording our debut album in two weeks, so all our focus is on that. Beyond that we have a show in Nottingham prior to the Underworld event. We’ve also been invited to play Incubate Festival in Tilburg, as well as Carefully Planned Festival in Manchester. Obviously there is much more we are yet to announce.
Jack: Finally, as there is a strong Converge influence, what is your favourite Converge album?
Rob: No Heroes/You Fail Me/The Poacher Diaries.
Jack: Thank you so much for your time and I’ll perhaps see you open for Minsk.
Rob: Thanks for having us.