Wilderado‘s single, “Head Right,” is an upbeat rock ‘n’ roll tune that was released in March of this year. Recently cracking the Top 30 at AAA Radio, “Head Right” continues to receive the recognition it deserves. The catchy single caught American Songwriter’s ear, so we sat down with lead singer Max Helmerich to discuss the story behind the song and its genesis.
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American Songwriter: Tell us about your single “Head Right.”
Max Helmerich: I think of “Head Right” as a song that just kind of happened. We were in Nashville, we were just kind of jamming and the song wrote itself. Then I went back and wrote lyrics and it just connected in a way. I love the song, it’s just a real easy tune that we didn’t really put many restrictions on. It’s definitely very summery, an easy summer jam.
AS: Your music came before the lyrics in this song’s case?
MH: Yeah, it’s always how I do it. I’ve tried several other ways, but at some point, I just came to accept the fact that I cannot write lyrics without music. It’s too hard for me to do! I like the framework of music and the structure of the song.
AS: Where did these lyrics come from? And where did you get the inspiration from? Let us into the story behind it all.
MH: It mostly came from a hard year; I think I was in a rough space. I was having a hard time just kind of appreciating the moments that I was in. And I think I had this realization that until I figured out the correct way to initiate things and be where I was at the time, I was just gonna be miserable. I was kind of playing with that idea. There was a lot I didn’t set out to write when I first went to put lyrics on it. And since it was on my mind, it all came out real fast and easy.
AS: We’ve been hearing that from a lot of artists recently, a lot of music came from this past difficult year.
MH: This was actually all before the pandemic to tell you the truth. We were touring a lot and I was going and doing extra things, like going to meet with different producers. I was just in a period of time where I was saying yes to everything. And I never really feel like I had the criteria to be able to just turn things down. Everything was an opportunity to me at the time and just started making me feel very lonely and down. Then we went straight into the pandemic, but honestly, it was a good break for me. I’ve almost been at home for 18 months just enjoying my family and re-approaching the band. I’ve been doing everything with a lot more intention.
AS: I also wanted to ask about was the video for “Head Right” because it felt so fitting for these current times.
MH: Yeah, I love that video! I think we wanted to try and show a bunch of different people kind in their own environment. And this idea of trying to get in a good mental space in your own way. It shows that at some point, everyone’s spinning out. And one thing I really wanted to do is have the video be at the same pace of the song. I feel like it helps the music to see something paced the way that it is. It was a little bit more of sampling in terms of the tempo, and just the wild headspace that the song comes from, which is what we were shooting to do with the video.
AS: My initial understanding was that it was a reflection on isolation. But now knowing that you wrote it before all makes it really interesting, like you almost wrote it thinking preemptively.
MH: Yes, very much. I think it all feels like watching that video. The moments of waiting are very heavy. And then everything else is just so crazy and fast. It’s like, such a strange combination of ‘go and wait’ and that makes for this experience where you’re never at a place of full rest, if you will. I think that’s kind of what I was hoping we could capture in the video. You kind of have to make your own moments of slowing down and it’s a hard thing to do. So I thought I thought we did a good job. And then obviously everyone loaned us their time [for the video]. So everyone, all those people, I’ve never met any of them except for a couple. So it was a fun thing to do. It’s fun to get everyone’s perspective on trying to relay the same message.
You can listen to Wilderado’s “Head Right” here now.