UD student, Jamie Blodgett, speaks with Cincinnati-based band The Wonderlands to hear about their new album. Photo courtesy of Eli Gannaway.
Jamie Blodgett | Contributing Writer
This week I had the opportunity to meet with members of a Cincinnati band known as The Wonderlands. I spoke with lead vocalist Miles Jena and keyboardist Jill Gavigan regarding the release of their second album “The Push and the Pull,” available now.
The album features eight songs titled: “The Push,” “Ecstasy,” “Tightrope,” “Hangin’ By A Thread,” “Spin That Record,” “Friends (feat. Hilliard),” “House Party” and “The Pull.”
The band began from the duo known as WTU featuring Jena and Adam Steele, but when the pair realized their dreams in the industry were bigger, they knew they needed to add more members. The pair’s first addition to the band was singer and keyboardist, Jill Gavigan.
Gavigan reflected on the first time she met Jena back in high school: “My dad was forcing me to do the talent show, and I was terrified. I didn’t know anyone. I had heard of this junior who played guitar and I went up to him and asked him to play in the talent show with me, and for some reason he said yes. And ever since then we’ve been friends. He then texted me one day saying that [WTU] wanted to expand what they were doing and in a heartbeat I said yes.”
Next, the band added drummer Derek Johnson and guitar player Patrick Oakes. Inspired by Switchfoot’s lead singer Jon Foreman’s series of extended play records, the decision was then made to change the band’s name to “The Wonderlands”.
Their first album, “This Digital Life,” was released only months after the band got together, and it became very notable that The Wonderlands were searching to bring something missing from the music industry back. Their unique sound and wide range bring a modern take on old school music by bringing music with real instruments back. Their sound can be compared to that of Maroon 5 or Coldplay.
In naming their second album Jena said: “You can’t have darkness without light, light without darkness and the ancient concepts of the yin and yang. I was experiencing intense sadness but at the same time was really grateful and happy about where I was. I began questioning how that was even possible.”
Jena continued by saying that during the filming of The Wonderlands podcast, bandmate Steele shared the line “death and life both know my name.” The pair then created a chorus, thus creating the album theme.
In an anonymous survey among 300 UD students, it was found that “House Party” was a fan favorite from the album.
Speaking on her solo in the song Gavigan stated: “There was one night when Miles was on Tik Tok live and I was just watching him do his thing and he mentioned the fact that I was going to be singing the second half of the song. I had no idea and we were going into the studio two days later.”
Gavigan continued by reflecting on the loads of support she receives from her fellow bandmates. She mentioned how they always push her to be her best and that is what came across in this song.
Through the seven-month creation time of this album, four of the band’s members were in school and Jena was two hours away. Gavigan recalled times when they would be in the studio on Zoom classes in between recording the album. But as stressful as it was, they were willing to do it because they love what they do.
When touching on the band’s favorite songs from the album, Gavigan began by saying “The Pull” makes her feel emotional and nostalgic, and “House Party” was fun because she got to take a lead vocal. Jena touched on his current favorite song being “The Push” due to it containing some of his favorite lyrics and it being one of the first songs the band played all together.
The band planted an Easter egg in the final song of the album, “The Pull,” at the very end of the song. You can hear lyrics from other songs in the album.
“Miles just said that he had an idea and ran away and then here it was—the end of ‘The Pull’ is the beginning of ‘The Push’ but in reverse,” Gavigan said on the moment this idea was created. “So, if you play the album all the way through, it is a complete perfect loop.”
The Wonderlands are a true example that when you have a dream, follow it. When you have a passion for something, do it. When your heart is leading you somewhere, listen to it. They are an inspiration to never give up, and they are reminders that your dreams are worth fighting for.
The Wonderlands recently recorded the music video for “House Party” with director Cameron Ridge. Be on the lookout!
The Wonderlands Podcasts can be heard anywhere you listen to podcasts.
Both “This Digital Life” and “The Push and The Pull” are out now anywhere you listen to music.