My name is Nicholas Lennox, but most people call me Nick! I play saxophone and percussion, and I also sing background vocals!
Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Being a band in the era of COVID-19 is incredibly challenging. To say our whole industry has shifted around us is an understatement; much like musicians around the world, we’re doing our best on the streaming front, but we miss live music terribly. Ultimately though we’ve got to keep our heads up, so we’re just doing our best to make the most of the whole scenario by staying creative and focusing on content-creation and songwriting!
I started playing guitar when I was maybe twelve; I was really into Metallica and I wanted to learn nothing but riffs. That was my official start, and I’ve dabbled with other instruments (keys, bass, drums) since, but I picked up the sax in tenth grade because it was kind of a rock ‘n roll instrument and fell in love with it. I learned to read music on it, and I could do things with the sax that I couldn’t with the guitar, so I’ve been playing the sax for about ten years now.
The Wilderness started with Jonas Lewis-Anthony (vocals/guitar), Karl Tombak (bass), Sacha Lansky (lead guitar), and Henry Lawrence (drums) at an open-mic here in Kingston; Jonas reportedly saw the other three performing and begged them to start a band. Liam Neale (keys/percussion) joined after coming on tour as a roadie. I was essentially absorbed into the band; I had jammed with the guys a handful of times and performed with them once or twice, so they eventually just started saying I was in the band.
All six of us come from a variety of musical backgrounds and that really shines through on this record. “Graveyard” specifically is one of Karl’s tunes, and really showcases an almost pop-punk flair. Karl has a background in metal, so the kind of riff-focused writing and fast-paced lyricism come naturally to him.
On the album at large, loads of styles and influences shine through. Jonas shows off his folk chops with tunes like “Pick You Up” and “You Look So Good When You Cry”, “Hurricane” is almost a country tune, songs like “If I Have to Die” and “Citalopram Blues” are hard hitting rock songs, I managed to sneak a little soul in there with “You, the Ocean”, there truly is something for everyone in there.
Everyone in the band has a different style of writing. Jonas, for example, seems to need nothing more than an acoustic guitar and a pen; he really channels his folk influences and is an excellent storyteller. I’m quite the opposite; I write out charts for the band to play along to and really go into things knowing exactly what the full band should sound like. Ultimately, there always comes a point where we come forward with our creation and release it to the rest of the band, and that is perhaps the most important part of the experience, because that’s where our songs become Wilderness songs.
We recorded “Until Tomorrow” at the Bathouse Studio in Bath ON right at the beginning of March 2020, about a week before the COVID-19 lockdown hit. Our producer was Rob Baker of The Tragically Hip, and Nyles Spencer was our engineer. We couldn’t have asked for a better team.
Too many to count! I myself played three saxophones, a grand piano, a Hammond B3, two tambourines, two shakers, and an EWI. Jonas and Sacha were slinging guitars like gunmen in the Wild West. Liam tickled more keys than a locksmith and Henry laid down more snares than a fur trapper. I’m pretty sure Karl only played one bass but we won’t talk about that. Oh, and everything was recorded in Pro Tools.
That completely depends on the song! Some tunes were performance ready—“Where I Roam” for example had been in our live performance canon for years—whereas others like “You, the Ocean” had never been performed as a band. That one required me to lay down a piano track, conduct the rhythm section of Karl and Henry, and then direct Jonas’s vocal performance.
The process of bringing it all together was the most rewarding for me; taking a song from a napkin sketch and letting your best friends take it to new heights with their own personal touches is truly special. The challenge there of course lies in that dance; it takes a certain vulnerability to trust others with a creation that’s personal and dear to your heart, but again, that’s what it takes to make something really shine.
Graveyard was born out of those nights one spends at a local pub until well past last call. It grapples with the monotonous rhythm of working, getting paid, drinking your pay away, and repeating that cycle. As musicians, our work environment is often those dimly lit bars, and we have a special privilege to be doing what we love in those venues, but even then it’s possible to feel stuck in your hometown, playing the same old songs for the same old faces and hearing the same old praises. Graveyard is about just that.
This EP is a collection of songs from “Until Tomorrow”, recorded live-off-the-floor at the Bathouse. We really thrive as a live band, but since we haven’t been able to play live shows, we wanted to bring a live flair to the music from that album. This project has allowed us to capture our music in a more nuanced way, and each song will have a corresponding video so that listeners can also watch the performance of each tune!
I’m a huge jazz addict! I’ve been listening to a lot of Bob Reynolds, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, and Joshua Redman, all of whom are saxophonists I admire a lot. I’ve also been heavy into Herbie Hancock lately, specifically the more fusion-type stuff on albums like “Thrust”, some of which I’ve had to learn for my jazz quintet, “Relatively Minor”.
Honestly, I use other music as a distraction from whatever music I’m working on; I switch genres to distract myself. I practice jazz regularly to escape from band stuff and it fills my cup right back up. Other times, I write heavy metal, and it absolutely obsesses me. Of course, when the hour doesn’t allow for that stuff I read lots; I’ve really been into Frank Herbert’s “Dune” series recently.
We’re just hoping to keep creative as possible! As we’ve mentioned, we have those live-off-the-floor videos we’re working on, and we’re in the process of writing our next album! Once performing live can safely be a thing again, we’re going to hit the ground running.
I am an absolute fiend for sushi, and the best place in Kingston has to be Kame. Favourite place to hang out has to be Musiikki Cafe, right downtown K-Town.
THE WILDERNESS IS:
Jonas Lewis-Anthony (lead vocals + guitar)
Sacha Lansky (lead guitar + backing vocals)
Karl Tombak (bass)
Henry Lawrence (drums + backing vocals)
Nicholas Lennox (saxophone, percussion + backing vocals)
Liam Neale (keyboard + percussion)