Wisconsin-based rocker Colin Wilde talks his new project — Black Thumb

A&E sat down with Wisconsin singer-songwriter Colin Wilde about the genesis of Black Thumb.

Colin Wilde of Black Thumb poses for a portrait before his show at Dead Media on Saturday, March 4, 2017.

Image by Carter Jones

Colin Wilde of Black Thumb poses for a portrait before his show at Dead Media on Saturday, March 4, 2017.

by Joe Cristo

In the last few years, Appleton, Wisconsin has quickly become a haven for like-minded indie-rockers.

Bands like Tenement have received national attention for their unabashedly catchy snark-rock.

A member of Tenement, Colin Wilde has his own project called Black Thumb. A&E sat down with the gloom rocker to get his take on art and what it means to be a musician.

When and why did you start working in music?

I always loved music when I was a kid. I think I got into punk music when I was 15 or 16. I would sneak into shows by selling merch for bands like the Black Lips.

I didn’t learn how to play music until the drums at 18. Probably around 21 or 22 is when I learned to play the guitar. I remember records like “Damned Damned Damned” and The Exploding Hearts were big for me, and obviously, the Velvet Underground. Then I started getting into the modern garage rock of the time because they looked like they were from the ‘70s.

Tell me about how Black Thumb got started.

It started in 2012. I lived in this house with a bunch of recording gear that my friend owned — microphones, guitars, synths and pianos. So I borrowed a Fostex 8-track from my roommate and taught myself how to play guitar and bass.

I ended up recording it all through the cheapest [microphones] because I was afraid of breaking the more expensive stuff. It started out as an art therapy type of project. I recorded most of it on my own and would occasionally ask friends to play bass or something. It all just started really organically in the living room of our old house.

What are you trying to accomplish with Black Thumb?

I honestly love recording. I hope I can capture how much better it makes me feel. Even though the songs are dark and sad it makes me feel better. The goal is that anyone who buys it feels some sort of sorrow [at first], but at the end … It’s bringing you to a place and then releasing you into a better state of mind.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to pursue music?

You don’t need to take lessons; just listen to as much music as you can. Have really broad senses. Have an open mind. Listen to jazz, listen to soul, old country, new music, old music — figure out what it is you want to do. And at the very core of all that type of stuff, take all those influences and make them your own. It’s not hard to pick up a guitar and make something on it. If I could do it, anyone can.

What are some of your future plans?

Right now Black Thumb, my roommates in Tenement and Julia Blair are working on a short film soundtrack that will be released on a vinyl LP. We are [also] mixing an LP for Dusk, which I drum and write songs for.

I’m slowly working on a new Black Thumb thing and released all the demos for it on the day that Bandcamp was matching donations to the ACLU.

And then a short tour down to Oklahoma City to play this hardcore punk festival called “Everything is Not Okay” with Tenement and Black Thumb.

Editor’s note: this interview has been edited for length and clarity.