is a band with a radical new pop-soul sound and sensibility that`s the
antipodean opposite of "wallpaper" music (in the classic Muzak
sense). Wallpaper.`s major label debut
on Epic Records is a uncompromising declaration of intent.
represents the eccentric everyman," says group frontman Ricky Reed,
"a blue collar pop band for the other 99%, a twerking class hero who might
ACTUALLY show up at your house party - THAT IS WALLPAPER.!"
no-nonsense party music on the surface, Wallpaper., comprised of Arjun
Singh and Tom
Peyton on drums, Derek Taylor
on percussion and Novena
Carmel vocals, follows
the trajectory of intoxication through the fuck-ups and the hangovers and the
adventures and manages to even pinpoint the divine light that strikes for a
split-second in the damnedest of places.
In the heartbeat of the songs, Wallpaper.`s provocative party anthems
open up to celebrate core human values, especially friendship, necessary for
"Good 4 It," the new Wallpaper. single, Ricky, with a mix of swagger
and vulnerability, invokes the essential function of friendship operating the
deepest levels in times of real trauma.
"It`s describing a real terrible situation that you`re in, without
any of the details. There hasn`t been a
song about just needing help in a long time," he says, harkening back to
the Beatle`s "Help" and REM`s "Everybody Hurts."
dynamic of "Drunken Hearts," is built around "a love song
between two train-wrecks," "The Underdog" champions the long
shot, the one you take because you don`t take opportunity for granted. Ricky, whose "parents are not from money
or involved in the entertainment industry," has been making music since he
was 16 and strongly identifies with the underdog. It takes a strong work ethic to make it look
as easy as Wallpaper. does. "I
don`t write a lot of songs," he confesses, "but I put a lot of work
into all the songs I write. I`m not
wasting anybody`s time listening to my songs."
Reed Is Real," Wallpaper.`s "thesis statement," contains a
litany of attributes, concrete and abstract, re-enforcing the persona
established on #STUPiDFACEDD, Wallpaper.`s 2011 breakout track (3.3 million
YouTube views and counting). The track
takes the artist`s identity game to the next level, where "Ricky
Reed" is a state-of-mind, an attitude, an idea fused directly with reality
(a little like "Elvis," the concept).
From "the song in your head" to "that hungover
Sunday" right down to the "last dollar in the duct-taped
wallet," Ricky Reed is in the details, just like God and the Devil.
Berkeley, California, Ricky became obsessed with music at a young age. His mother, a bookkeeper, exposed him to a
variety of sounds from the smooth California pop of Steely Dan to the funky
sounds of Motown and Sly & the Family Stone. Sly`s daughter, Novena Carmel, is one of the
vocalists in Wallpaper.
took on West Coast rap when that hit," Ricky remembers. "I was a young kid listening to Dre and
Snoop." But what really flicked
young Ricky`s switch was post-Nirvana mainstream punk like Green Day, Rancid and Operation Ivy. "It came directly hand-fed through the
radio. I was the right age and it hit
me." From there, he got into (then)
contemporary rock and British bands.
"Digging deeper and deeper and then my mom put me onto early Yes. I
got into prog rock, ELP, King Crimson, all that insane stuff. That led me to new music and the avant garde,
Steve Reich, Boulez, classical music. I
had a prog rock band. And then I decided
I want to make some simple silly songs."
was Wallpaper.`s debut, 2009`s T
REX EP, a collection
of two and 1/2 minute satiric pop songs.
Influenced by Zapp & Roger and other 70s funk band, Ricky had
incorporated Auto-Tune pitch correction into his recordings as a kind of
satiric emotional distancing device.
Wallpaper.`s debut album, Doodoo
Face (also released
in 2009), found Ricky reaching into deeper grooves for inspiration. "I started introducing R&B from my
childhood into the songs so I could play at house parties and have fun."
Ricky, unsure about the fate of Wallpaper., was honing his musical and
songwriting skills doing commercial work.
Looking back over the fledgling Wallpaper. catalog, he could feel a
"real pop potential in these songs," but wasn`t sure how to tap
that. During the holidays, he found
himself alone in a studio for a ten day stretch. "I had this weird epiphany," he
recalls. "I should just do whatever
I want." Giving himself permission
to work in a new way opened up a "creative renaissance" that produced
#STUPiDFACEDD, a pulse-of-the-culture track that nailed a contemporary ethos as
accurately as the Beastie Boys had Fought For The Right To Party a quarter
century earlier. The track, and its 21st
century Satyricon video, proved pivotal in the Wallpaper. saga. Songwriter and record executive Evan Bogart
signed Wallpaper. to Boardwalk Records and helped shepherd #STUPiDFACEDD to the
good people at MTV`s "Jersey Shore."
move was to collaborate with Wallpaper. on an animated video for BEST FUCKING
SONG EVERR, a song celebrating friendship and loyalty in a storyline featuring
the band members.
in December 2011, Ricky Reed sat down at a grand piano in the auditorium of the
Sony Building in Los Angeles and sang "#STUPiDFACEDD Reprise," a
lounge jazz version of Wallpaper.`s signature song, for a small audience that
included LA Reid and Tricky Stewart. The
evening ended with Wallpaper. signing with Epic Records (a joint venture with
Boardwalk Music Group).
recording of the new Wallpaper. album, Ricky`s been dividing his time between
his beloved Bay Area and the City of Angels.
In the middle of 2012, in the same Echo Park studio that birthed
#STUPiDFACEDD, Ricky reached a new creative apotheosis. "Caffeinated and drinking by myself,
there`s a magic fuzzy place that I really like," he admits candidly proffering
a glimpse into his creative process, "but I was going way too hard into it
and feeling crazy and alone and in a room with no windows." From which sprang "Puke My Brains
Out," a glorious confrontation with the absolute that`s gnarly, profound
and funny. "It was born out of
frustration with where I was at. A new
journey began and it ends up being the strongest material I`ve ever done. I holed up in the studio in October and
rewrote almost the whole album from scratch."
points proudly to one of Wallpaper.`s manifestos, "Puke My Brains Out,"
which is "not really a party jam or fully ironic. It`s a general sense of feeling overwhelmed
and needing to expel all the noise that`s in your brain. It`s about information overload
really." A lyric video for the
song, directed and animated in "90s early internet hell graphics by Ricky
Reed," is currently racking up views on YouTube.
genius is the ability to compress all that information--verbal, rhythmic,
melodic, technological, psychological, emotional, mental, physical,
spiritual--into pop hooks that strike direct and true and stick to the brain.
latest batch of Wallpaper. material, Ricky Reed has "taken all that
influence of punk and all that stuff I grew up listening to and all that
attitude with the bass and understanding funk and pocket and weight and
wrapping into one thing with hooks. If
`FUCKING BEST SONG EVERR` is your last reference point, you have no idea where
I`m at right now." The new
Wallpaper. album is the way to find out.