In the midst of a tour supporting their sophomore breakout album 88 92, Houston indie band Wild Moccasins were breaking up. Founding members Zahira Gutierrez and Cody Swann had been romantically involved for nearly a decade at that point, and as the band’s lineup expanded and contracted, amassing fans along the way, they remained its constant core, despite the personal turmoil between them. It all became fodder for their 2018 LP on New West Records, Look Together, centered on the deterioration of their relationship and their determination to keep moving forward for the sake of the music.
That narrative, of course, made its way in to everything written about the project. But just over a year later, the band has returned with a fresh perspective on what they’ve been through, where they’re going next, and a new video for the LP’s lead single “Boyish Wave.” Referencing French New Wave films of the ’60s – or, more specifically, their trailers – like Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows, Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend and Breathless, Alain Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad, Agnès Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7, and the love triangle in François Truffaut’s Jules and Jim – the visual pokes fun at the drama that nearly destroyed them and officially caps off the album cycle as the band gears up for the next big thing.
“If you watch the trailers for all these films, they’re very dramatic, and they’re telling you what the film is about, but they’re also extremely ambiguous,” Gutierrez explains when we talk over the phone. “You’re just getting the best lines, seeing the most dramatic parts of whatever relationship is going on in the film.” This particular clip sees Gutierrez caught in a love triangle with Swann and Wild Moccasins drummer Avery Davis, following them through surreal scenes, subtitles and all. Seemingly taken out of context, the video is a trailer for a movie (or a relationship) that will never exist. “All of the most dramatic things you could say to to each other or do with each other when you’re going through a relationship are just kind of condensed into this like fake trailer,” Gutierrez says.
There’s no concrete timeline, narrative, or reality, which Swann says adds to the feeling of conflict. “But one thing we were trying to touch on,” he adds, “Is that when dating, you end up going to a lot of the same places with different people – your favorite restaurant, favorite place, favorite park. And a lot of times we live these mirrored moments, but we wanted to touch on the very positive aspect of how even something so familiar can be made completely new when you’re with the person you want to be with.”
The band plotted the “Boyish Wave” video shot for shot while on tour behind Look Together, releasing self-directed videos for “No Muse,” “Doe-Eyed Dancer,” and “Longtime Listener” with the same production team in the meantime. Swann says the band narrowed down the list of potential shots from around a hundred to about sixty, and that though it was extensively planned, they couldn’t account for all the “happy accidents.”
“A lot of that goes out the window whenever a shot doesn’t work out the way we thought it would, or sometimes a throwaway becomes the thing that everything hinges on,” Swann says. A perfect example is the still that became the video’s screen cap: Gutierrez points a prop gun at Swann from the opposite side of a picture frame he’s holding – Swann says he found the frame on the side of the road the day before the video shoot. It had such surprising visual impact, he says, “we had to arrange around it afterwards.”
The band remained heavily involved as the rest of the video came together. “Most cinematographers will not let you sit in through the editing process but we actually sat through the editing process from beginning to end and looked at every single scene and shot that we filmed and placed them carefully,” Gutierrez remembers. The subtitles were pulled from a notebook Swann has kept for nearly fifteen years, writing down quotes from his friends – and from Guitierrez, too.
“Most of the lines that are featured as dialogue are things that Zahira said maybe ten years ago, and she’s like, ‘I remember saying that!’ and I’m like, ‘Well it’s been sitting in my notepad for ten years,'” Swann chuckles.
Meanwhile, more than a year after putting out “Boyish Wave” as a single, the song itself has taken on new meanings, as both Swann and Gutierrez explored new relationships (and watched those end as well, due to the band’s relentless touring schedule). “We’ve all been through it together as a band,” Gutierrez says. “[On tour], you’re essentially living with the same people for a year and a half. There will be some sort of drama. The way I feel now looking back, everything needed to happen the way that it has happened for us to move on to the next step. As a band, I think our main goal is when we do something new we want it to be different, get out of our comfort zone. There were a lot of emotional moments but it all needed to happen for us to end up here.” She adds, “with the video, I don’t think the script could have been made when the song came out a year ago. Certain things had to happen – we had to go through things as people, as a band – for it to come out the way that it did.”
Swann says that growth as a band gave them the confidence they needed “to do something as scary as the next step.” Rather than participate in another grueling tour, both agree they’d like to “act with more of a sense of urgency” as Swann puts it. “If there’s one thing we’ve learned through the process of making these albums, it’s that the amount of time that goes into making one always keeps you away from entertaining. And you don’t get to make an album when you’re out touring. And we’d like to do both a little more often.”
“We are trying to figure out a balance. This last record, we went through a very intense studio/writing process and a very intense touring process,” Gutierrez says, adding that the band is always writing, but is leaning toward stand-alone releases, rather than a full album, in this transitional phase.
Evidently, the turmoil has only made the friendships within the band stronger – the fire to the fuel Wild Moccasins need as they begin their next chapter. “Though there’s always something new, there’s always something that we’re moving on to, it’s been really an absolute pleasure to get to grow with Zahira through all of it, through each step,” Swann confesses. “That’s something I don’t take for granted – that friendship that started with us as kids in a band and got us where we are now.”