David A Clark
Arising from the ashes of the Beat Me Ups, Wellville and My Friend Steve have collectively stolen Orlando’s heart. Both bands seem destined for the big time, and deservedly so. We caught up with three-fourths of Wellville recently at a cozy downtown bistro. Here’s what they had to say about life, music, and serial killers.
Tell me about the start of Wellville.
Liz: I was working with a producer who wanted to work with just me. Anyway, he knew Matt.
Dave: I got Matt a gig with a guy who was friends of this producer. Matt played the gig and did a really good job and he got called back. We were both going to UCF together, and he brought a tape to me and I listened to it. I said, “Wow, I want to do this.” Eventually we auditioned other drummers, since Matt was in another band at the time.
Matt: Regardless, it was taking a considerable amount of time so I didn’t know if I could dedicate myself to it or not
Dave: I was playing in a band with Liz. We were auditioning drummers and nothing was working, so finally I got Matt to come back in and play. He wasn’t the original drummer who was supposed to play.
The other band, that was Heronymus, wasn’t it? How long were you with them?
Matt: A little over a year.
Liz: He was still in Heronymus for most of the time he was with us.
Was there any strain when you left Heronymus? Any bad feelings?
Matt: I had been looking at leaving for quite awhile. The band just wasn’t doing what I wanted to do.
Did they know that?
Matt: Yeah, I mentioned it a couple of times. Then I got offered a gig in California on a cruise ship. It fell through at the last minute but when I told them about it they said, “fine, we don’t want you in the band anymore.” I ended up staying around here all summer. There were not really any hard feelings between us, just a lot of personal matters that weren’t happening. That was the main reason I left.
Liz: We were able to work together comfortably. Then Litton came along in February and that was Wellville.
Where’d you get the name for the band?
Liz: The movie. I had gotten it out of the TV Guide. It got really bad reviews but everybody I knew saw it and liked it. I guess it’s a cult classic. Anthony Hopkins was in it, so how bad can it be? I think it was about Kellogg.
So where is everyone from? How did you drift in from wherever and end up here?
Matt: I moved down here with my parents in the first grade from Jacksonville. My dad was a drummer so I just started playing. My whole family [are] musicians, basically, so I have been playing since an early age. I’ve been here ever since. I didn’t have the money to go away, so I stayed.
Liz: I lived in a lot of places. When I settled here I met a lot of people who were musicians.
Were you involved musically before you came here?
Liz: No, I left Australia when I was 17. I thought I was gonna be a famous folk singer. I went to Toronto. I thought if Joni Mitchell could do it, I could too, but I was too inexperienced.
Do you think you will ever go back to folk singing?
Liz: Yes. I still do it once in a while. I haven’t done it lately but I want to. But I like the band idea better. I could always write a song but I could never play the guitar very well. I moved here after a few years of just doing other things. Then I met Steve Burry. We had the Beat Me Ups, but he left and that was it. I just continued singing.
Dave: I grew up here in Orlando and started playing guitar at 16. Then I moved to Dallas to go to school. There were so many guitar players, I just started playing bass just for fun. People started calling me for gigs on the bass, so I figured I might have something going on the bass rather than the guitar. Then I came back home for an internship at University of Central Florida. I kept playing.
Where do you see Wellville in, say two years?
Liz: Do you mean where do we want to see us?
Matt: On the road away from here.
Liz: We are working on more than just that. We are serious about making it a career.
You guys are fairly confident you will make it. It takes patience and talent to make it big; just waiting for the break won’t do it. Is that it?
Liz: You could say that.
Dave: It certainly is the luck quotient but it’s the same for any band.
Matt: We’re always trying to make ourselves better at what we do because word gets around. We don’t want to get passed into this bottomless pit of bands that stay the same.
Dave: It’s having the right person hear you at the right time.
Liz, do you write most of the songs for the band?
Liz: I write most of them, but we really have been writing some together as a band. David and I have written songs together. The whole band really arranges them.
Do you come in and say, ‘Hey guys, I have a new song let’s try it out’?
Liz: Yeah, or I have it in my head, or they play it on the guitar. Dave will sometimes bring a piece of music in, and I will write the words, and we will work together on it, and it definitely is a better song then. I think that is why we like being in a band together.
Is inspiration where you find it, or do you go certain places to be inspired?
Liz: It is never deliberate. It is always very instinctual, or just a train of thought, something that may of happened a minute ago or ten years ago. Sometimes I just make up a story, make up something everyone can relate to.
Matt: The band is full of bad relationships.
So that is the main fountain of inspiration?
Dave: Yeah, we’re a real soap opera band.
Matt: I can’t speak for what Liz writes about. A lot of the stuff we play I relate it to. It’s odd for people to say they find inspiration from depressing events when you just drum! But it really does! I try to pull from whatever I can. (I) Try to make the song as emotional to everybody else as it could be to me. Bad relationships happen to me. It’s not my fault, I swear!
Liz: Sometime I might be on the phone to a girlfriend, and she might say something that just triggers a song. On one of the songs I wrote, “Carmen,” she was talking about her family. She was very upset. Her family is pretty much around her most of the time. Mine is not; they are in Australia. So I was thinking how glad I was that I get to look at my family in a picture and see how happy they seem. She made me think of how lucky I am. But I miss my family a lot.
Have you not been home since you left?
Liz: Yes, a couple of times; every five or six years.
If you left home when you were 17, and you have been home every once in awhile, every five or six years, you must be a least 50 by now.
Liz: No, I am 21.
It would seem that Wellville is a band that doesn’t have any particular political or social agenda. You just want to make music, entertain people, and have a good time, and make money doing it. Is this correct?
Wellville: Yes just make people happy.
Is there anything you want people to learn or to understand from your music, or is it enough to just like it?
Liz: I don’t think we ever put that much thought into it.
Dave: It is whatever they can get out of it.
Liz: I mean if somebody comes to our shows all the time and requests a favorite song, that is great to me. That means they are really with me.
What would you think of someone that requests the song “Serial Killer” all the time?
Dave: That happens all the time! People love that song. People ask us to e-mail them the words. Then we get scared. Look who wrote it! The dark side of Liz.
Liz: I wasn’t thinking of anything at the time. I was just sitting there playing my guitar. I was watching A&E. They have shows on about serial killers all the time, and I just sit and watch those shows, and as a kid I used to read those book(s), so of course a song was going to come out of it.
On the delightful subject of serial killers, we ended the interview.