Best of 2015
When it comes to where they go next, Donovan Wolfington want to keep things interesting.
Words: Ryan De Freitas.
Donovan Wolfington’s ‘How To Treat The Ones You Love’ came as one of the biggest surprise packages of the year. Their debut full-length on Topshelf Records brings together a plethora of loosely punk-based influences and styles that result in an incredibly refreshing listen.
Flitting from hook-laden slacker punk to brooding hardcore to something pretty damn close to grunge without ever breaking their stride, it’s clear that the New Orleans trio are no ordinary band. The incredibly difficult circumstances that surrounded the making of this album – the death of friend and owner of the studio ‘How To Treat…’ was being put together at, Rick Naiser and departure of singer/keyboardist, Savannah Saxton – are even less ordinary still.
It’s almost a miracle, then that this album ever even saw the light of day. How exactly does a band pull through all of that and stay in the mindset to get an album done? “To be honest, I have no idea,” reflects singer/guitarist, Neil Berthier. “As hellish as it was, there always seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel; we had to just roll with the punches.
“Plus it’s not like the in-between of all the bad shit wasn’t fun. We all grew through it and are stronger because of it. Why just give up when you could keep going and have a blast at the end? That’s where we’re at now and we’ve already started writing the next one so it’s all gravy, baby.“
“It’s all gravy, baby” is an almost inconceivably laid-back response to such trying circumstances, but given some of the more nonchalant, ‘life’s a party’ lyricism found on the record, maybe this isn’t too surprising.
Still, it must feel pretty good to have come through all of that and have as positive a reception to the record as they’ve had, right? “It feels good but not as good as I thought it would when we were recording,” Berthier admits. “It’s the curse of being a band. What keeps you going is the new phases of life and the urge to represent those phases through music. There are obviously other factors, but that force is very important.”
That hardship and the band’s admirable way of reacting to it would certainly help shape an album and it does beg the question: Would it have sounded different if things had gone more smoothly for the band? “Not really,” Berthier supposes. “We did everything ourselves so that created a lot of pressure in itself. It only intensified when Rick died and Savannah left. Chris [Berthier, bassist] left at the end and that was a bit more peaceful and resolved a bit quicker than the other incidents.”
“The next one, I can already tell, is going to be weirder – and more linear,” he says, however. “Everything will be different and exciting for us, as well as whoever is listening, and that’s the goal.”