Between months spent exploring the United States by driving cross-country in a van, David Wimbish is taking time to write music and tour with his band The Collection. After the tour, David plans to get back on the road and continue exploring the country.
“Kind of like Kerouac,” David says. “But less prolific, and a lot less drunk.”
I had the opportunity to speak with David about The Collection, their most recent record Listen to the River, their upcoming album Entropy, and of course, The Collection’s show at The Royal American with Becca Leigh and Dyado on Friday, April 27th.
The Collection today is a much different band than it was back in 2011 when they released their first EP. Perhaps the most obvious difference is the number of people in the band: at the time of recording 2014’s full-length debut Ars Moriendi, there were more than a dozen people in The Collection. Even Charleston’s very own Clay White (who also recorded with SUSTO, Brave Baby, The High Divers, etc.) played on that album, contributing trumpet and musical saw.
Along with the ebb and flow of The Collection, David’s life has changed significantly over the course of the past seven or so years, and the music he’s put out during that time has reflected his journey. For instance, David’s headspace while writing Ars Moriendi was much different than his headspace during the writing process for the next album, 2017’s Listen to the River. This is something we touched upon in depth during our conversation.
“I wrote a lot of the songs in the process of my religious language kind of crumbling around me. I realized that I didn’t really trust that language anymore, and I wasn’t really sure if I still had any concepts behind it,” David says. “It was a period of not completely losing faith, but having to find if the concepts behind the language were things I still trusted, and if there was any other langauge that was still descriptive of where I was at. Listen to the River was kind of in the middle of that process.”
This personal battle between specific religious ideas and the concepts of personal spirituality stand at the forefront of Listen to the River. The songs peel back the curtain to David’s mind during this process, and gives listeners something to hang onto while they wrestle with these complex questions in their own lives. I told David about my personal experience with a Christian upbringing and how I severed my own ties with it, and our conversation continued down that line.
“I think that these concepts of love and compassion and kindness and peace are a thread that runs through so much of how people are trying to figure out how to live their lives,” David says. “There’s some really inspirational ways that those get discussed whether through Christianity, or Sufism, or even in the scientific world.”
During this process, David found himself reading prayers and texts from many different religions. Aside from finding great interest in these writings and teachings, David found that although there are many ways that each religion may address the core values, the core teachings have a lot in common.
“It’s all about finding these different flavors or different descriptions for these beautiful concepts,” David says. “Things that way find powerfully revolutionary in the ways we treat other people, and treat ourselves, and basically just get through life. Finding those concepts as being powerful, and finding the spiritual nature of those things, whether it’s being held up by a specific religious nature or not is something I’m still very interested in.”
Between today and the release of 2017’s Listen to the River, David’s life (and subsequently The Collection) underwent another series of major changes. For one, he split with his wife and former bandmate Mira. He totaled his car, many of his friends moved to the west coast, and several of the band’s core members left the band. This left David in a sort of chaotic head space, and so he resolved within himself to record Entropy as a solo album and set out to do just that.
“It just kinda felt like all everything I built my life on had crumbled. Where do I go from there? I think it came to getting to my lowest point in all of that, accepting the emptiness of all of it, that allowed things to start coming back together. The album took that shape as well, you know. It was written as a solo album and then the band started to firm up around that. And then I was able to fully dive in with those guys.”
Today, bassist Hayden Cooke, trombone player Graham Dickey, and guitarist Josh Ling are among the four longest standing members in The Collection. The four of them played on the band’s upcoming album Entropy, which is the smallest group to contribute to a Collection record to date. The band you will see live at The Royal American features six members, adding Joshua Linhart on drums and Sarah McCoy on keys, synth, and vocals.
“The songs on the new record ‘Entropy’ are definitely the most honest, and kind of in your face lyrically. They’re the first songs I’ve written that weren’t really about spiritual concepts, or the opposite of spiritual concepts. They’re just about things that were happening in my life in a pretty honest way. I think that change is chronicaled through all three of the last records, honestly.”
The first single off Entropy is called “Beautiful Life”, and was released on March 30th. The single shows David pushing his vocal range more than he did on Listen to the River. This has resulted in a raw sound, with the vocals (and David’s voice) at the forefront, and successfully separates the new record from the pop vocals and other pop elements heard on Listen to the River.
Check out “Beautiful Life” by The Collection below, and head out to see them at The Royal American on Friday, April 27th. Tickets will be available for $5 at the door.