Nick Whetro, frontman for Madison, WI-based freak folk outfit Icarus Himself, is not afraid to let people into his mind and life. The band’s first three recordings, starting with 2009’s EP Mexico and culminating with 2011’s Career Culture detail his movement from small-town Fremont, Indiana to the badger bastion of Madison. This Thursday, July 19th, the three-piece band will show off their talents at the Barley Street Tavern, part of a small summer tour in promotion of their newest album. In preparation for the concert, Mr. Whetro talked with The Reader, answering questions about the dissolution of his old band, the National Beekeeper’s Society, and the production Career Culture.
The Reader: Talk about the break-up of National Beekeeper’s Society and the beginning of Icarus Himself:
Nick: While I was in Beekeeper’s I started Icarus Himself as a solo acoustic project because I had some songs that didn’t fit into the type of music that we were playing at the time. The drummer from Beekeeper’s then went to law school, so we were going to have to end at some point. It was not like Icarus took over or anything.
The Reader: Can you discuss the recording process for Career Culture?
Nick: I had some demos for “I’m On Your Side” and “WI via IN” that I took into the studio. They’re both heavily looped-based and we went into the Science and Sound Studio in Madison and just went in and tracked over that live. The only thing that we didn’t do live on this album was the drum machine and synthesizer. For Mexico we didn’t have a drummer, so for this latest album we really wanted to make use of the fact that we have a drummer now. We wanted to have more of a live band feel for this album, so that’s why we did most of the songs live at the studio. It’s more of a live feel.
The Reader: In the promotion items for Career Culture it emphasizes the importance of your move from Indiana to Wisconsin. Can you talk about that more?
Nick: Yeah. Fremont was a very, very small town. It has about 1,000 people. Pretty boring. I was glad to get out of it. I actually in-between moving from Fremont to Madison though lived in Mesa, Arizona for a year which was a mistake probably.
The Reader: Do you find it easier to create music in an environment that is more known for its creative culture, i.e. Madison?
Nick: Yeah actually I do. Where I was living in Indiana it was pretty stifling culturally. Madison is pretty diverse. There are really good bands here that I listen to and they influence me.
The Reader: Can you talk a little bit about the process that went into making the music video for “On Your Side?”
Nick: Our friend Ryan Barley who used to live in Madison, who now lives in LA shot it. We just took a day last summer where we rented out an old synagogue and staged a fake wedding with all our friends. It was a pretty fun time.
The Reader: Did your recent wedding influence your decision to make the music video about a wedding?
Nick: Actually, our first idea was that the couple in the video would be holding up a convenience store so the whole wedding idea was a last minute one. The song isn’t really related to the video. The song is about trusting someone and being with them.
Icarus Himself will be performing on July 19th at the Barley Street Tavern at 2735 N. 62 Street in Benson. They will be joined by Landing on the Moon and Above the State. Show starts at 9pm and is $5. You can find Icarus Himself on Tumblr, bandcamp, and Myspace.