With roots music on the rise, it’s a prime time for Wish & the Well to be prepping their debut album for release. The Oceanside-based five-piece fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist Corey Leal is finishing up mixing and mastering nine tracks for Darling Darling, due out in January.
“Overall, we’re very pleased,” Leal says. “You’ll hear what heartache sounds like at 100bpm.”
Gearing up for a gig at the Pour House on December 2, Leal — who is joined in the band by pedal steel player and keyboardist Dillon Casey, guitarist Steven Crowle, bassist Trevor “Tex” Mulvey, and drummer Cheyne Dolly — took a break from the studio to let loose about ditching Jefferson Washington, growing up a skateboarding punk, and wooing his ex back with one song.
...by Wish & the Well (solo acoustic from the First Take Series)
How did you go from being known as Jefferson Washington to Wish & the Well?
Jefferson Washington was my first attempt at writing songs and sharing them with people other than my roommates. It lasted about four years. I wrote a handful of songs during that time that will end up on the new Wish and the Well record. We changed the name when we formed our current lineup — going from a duo of Dillon and me to the full band now. I didn’t really like the name Jefferson Washington anyway, so it was a great time to switch.
How did you land on the new name?
Wish & the Well is a product of throwing about 50 names in a hat. If I remember right, Cheyne texted me a list of about five or six names and that was one of them. I liked it instantly. It’s got an innocence about it.
Where does the band call home?
The band formed in Oceanside — in my living room, to be specific. That’s where we all got together for the first time and had our first rehearsal. We’re spread all over the county, but we have a lot of love for Oceanside — we practice there, play a lot of shows there, Cheyne grew up there, and he and I both currently live there.
How would you describe your sound?
I guess “Americana” is the easiest umbrella term for us. We are all into those old, traditional American roots styles of blues, country, and folk. We try to honor those styles the best we can, but I’m not from the 1920s — I grew up playing punk rock and skateboarding. I don’t sing about wagons and drug stores. We sit on grooves and sing about things that are close to home.
Which artists most influenced the band?
Old American roots music like Mississippi John Hurt, Hank Williams Sr., and Dave Van Ronk. I’m a huge Skip James fan. But as far as more contemporary bands, Tex is a big Daniel Romano fan. We really like what the guys of Hiss Golden Messenger are doing, and especially the Wood Brothers. We basically try to take each style and do them all.
Freaky Friday: You can switch bodies with any living musician for a day — who would it be and why?
Probably Tom Waits. He’s got 40-plus years active in music. It would be cool to experience his knowledge and methods to songwriting.
On the new album’s title track, you sing about an ex who’s with someone else but suggest she’ll be married to you one day. What’s the status of this relationship?
I wrote that when my girlfriend and I were broken up for about four months. That was about three years ago, and we’ve been going strong ever since.
What’s the story behind the YouTube video of “Darling Darling”?
That came about when I was up in L.A. visiting my good friend Garrett Riker. We were hanging out in his living room and decided to film that song. Garrett shot it with one camera and a field recorder on the first take. We decided to create a First Take Sessions channel featuring artists who get one try, all mistakes included. We wanted to keep it as raw as possible.
Do you have a favorite song from the upcoming album?
- Friday, December 2, 2016, 8 p.m.
1903 S. Coast Highway,
I really like the way “When Judgment Comes” came out. It was such a surprise. It turned out completely different from how it was rehearsed. I like the way “Everything Will Be Alright” turned out, too. It was a cappella in Nathan James’s kitchen. You can hear the low hum of the fridge in the background.
What has been the most challenging aspect of getting your first album recorded?
Waiting. I have truly learned the meaning of patience with this record.
What’s your wish for 2017?
First and foremost is to get this record released. After that we’ll see where the year takes us. There’s definitely some touring in our future.