Podculture: Stage Wombat Collective’s new EP will worm its way into your ears

Clay Lawhead, Reporter

Stage Wombat Collective, a duo of recent NU grads, is creating an EP that will worm its way into your ears, released March 12 on all streaming platforms.

CLAY LAWHEAD: Before we begin, a content warning: this episode contains some explicit language.

CLAY LAWHEAD: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Clay Lawhead. You’re listening to Sound Source, a podcast tuning into music on and around campus. The single you just heard is called “Clown Wolf,” and it is the premiere single from the new band Stage Wombat Collective, a group of recent NU graduates now set up in Portland, Oregon. Their uniquely charismatic indie-rock presence has translated effortlessly from the theatre scene, where they met writing musicals in college. I talked to Alec Steinhorn and Jordan Knitzer about how their band came about and the EP they are putting out March 12. 

ALEC STEINHORN: We’ve been writing theatre for most of our careers at Northwestern, and we were originally planning this year to move to Brooklyn to take our show “People You May Know” that had just gone up with AMTP and bring it to some sort of lab readings in the city. But due to the pandemic, we found ourselves in a place where it wasn’t going to be a financially viable decision. We looked at each other and we were like, “What do we really want to do right now? Do you want to be rockstars? Duh.”

CLAY LAWHEAD: That’s Alec Steinhorn. He is the pianist and composer for Stage Wombat Collective. The duo wrote six songs during quarantine, taking inspiration from artists such as Vampire Weekend, Vulfpeck and Glass Animals. But their experience writing for theatre has an impact on the way they write their own songs. I’ll let lead vocalist and lyricist Jordan Knitzer explain.

JORDAN KNITZER: The way we structure our songs is the same way we structure all of our songs for musicals, it’s all centered around the story of the piece. With musical theatre, you have a lot of restrictions. You have one listen for an audience to be like “Oh, I understand that lyric.” With music that we’re releasing, there’s just a lot more flexibility for us to be more experimental. 

ALEC STEINHORN: Sometimes you actually just get to write the thing you want to write, which has been very liberating for us.

CLAY LAWHEAD: I spoke with them a little bit about their recent single “Clown Wolf,” which Jordan Knitzer described as a “song that encapsulates what it’s like to exist for others rather than yourself.” I asked them what this song was inspired by and where that quote came from.

ALEC STEINHORN: When you are putting on sort of like a performative hat, that is an external act of exciting and cheering up and making others happy, but sometimes it can leave you feeling emotionally drained. The question that this song tries to pose is, “If you are busy making other people happy, still who is responsible for your own happiness? Are you able to provide that for yourself?”

JORDAN KNITZER: Y’know, with some dancing wolves and shit. 

CLAY LAWHEAD: Stage Wombat Collective plans on furthering their exploration into different genres and styles, especially with the upcoming release of their self-titled EP. There are influences from symphonic rock, alternative rock and even a bit of funk. They talk a little bit about the narratives that correlate with each song and how the EP came together.

JORDAN KNITZER: All of our songs have narratives. I think they’re all coming from a place of what we were feeling going into the pandemic. We tell a lot of stories in our songs, we have our beginning-middle-end, and you can see the journey in each. There wasn’t a huge overarching defining statement with this EP, it’s really like “Welcome to the world, we’re Stage Wombat Collective, and we’re gonna worm our way into your ears.”

ALEC STEINHORN: Right. From the outset, something that was on my mind was “Will this feel totally incoherent?” Having alt rock, hard rock, symphonic rock, all of these things sandwiched together, is that even going to be effective as a piece of music? And credit where credit is due, a lot of what the EP’s final sound is a result of our incredible band, who were able to put their musical talents to work and create a glue.

JORDAN KNITZER: They’re so kickass.

ALEC STEINHORN: They’re so goddamn good.

CLAY LAWHEAD: What are you excited for in regards to Stage Wombat Collective’s future plans?

JORDAN KNITZER: We’re ready to rock out. We love a live audience, we love interacting with people and we’re excited to take these songs and hopefully do a tour once the pandemic settles. We’re going to be starting our next album, a 10-12 song album, and we’re excited to keep expanding our sound and get feedback from what was working well in the EP. I’m very excited lyrically to pour my heart into a new project.

ALEC STEINHORN: What I’m also excited for going forward is the eventual synthesis into something resembling a voice. We are definitely artists on a path and I really look forward to seeing how our sound evolves. Before that happens, though, you can expect lots of ear candy. Bring in all the weird disparate sounds that you can think of because they’re gonna be on the EP and they’re gonna be on the album. Jordan might even rap. If we’re lucky.

CLAY LAWHEAD: You can listen to Stage Wombat Collective’s first single “Clown Wolf,” an early song release called “Self-Drawn Circle” and their upcoming EP which will be released on March 12 on all streaming platforms. You can find them on Instagram and Facebook under @stagewombatcollective and on Twitter under @stagewombatcol1. 

ALEC STEINHORN: If anyone from Northwestern even a little bit listens to our music, it would make me the happiest boy in the world.

CLAY LAWHEAD: From the Daily Northwestern, I’m Clay Lawhead. Thanks for listening to another episode of Sound Source. This episode was reported and produced by me, Clay Lawhead. The audio editor of The Daily is Alex Chun. The digital managing editors are Molly Lubbers and Olivia Yarvis. The editor in chief is Sneha Dey.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @omqclaydoh

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