The guys in Wray are having an alright year. They toured overseas for the first time. They played Austin’s SXSW festival, again. And they performed with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.
The Birmingham band — comprised of bassist David Brown, guitarist David Swatzell and drummer Blake Wimberly — also released its sophomore album, “Hypatia.” It’s an effort the Wall Street Journal has described as “a surging wash of wavy guitars, relentless bass and adroit percussion that blasts past much of the shoegaze rock to which it will be compared.” The New York Times paints Wray as “pursuing its own extrapolation of shoegaze, surf-punk and lo-fi garage-rock.”
Wray recently ramped up another run of touring, looping around the southeast. After driving from Atlanta to Panama City, they sat down to talk prior to their July 24 local show at Pensacola’s Vinyl Music Hall.
SANDS: You guys are from Birmingham. Birmingham’s gotten a little bit of attention lately for being a music town.
David Brown: I grew up in the punk scene in Birmingham, and that’s kind of been an ongoing scene that’s been going on forever. There’s always been cool music coming out of Birmingham and it is getting some attention as of late with bands like St. Paul and Broken Bones and that sort of soul revival stuff. But yeah, there’s always been cool music coming out of there.
SANDS: The music you’re involved with now isn’t really punk, how would you describe it?
David Swatzell: I don’t know if there’s a full-encompassing term for it. It’s kind of dreampop at times, kind of like Kraut rock sometimes, kind of post-punk at times, kind of like a little bit of all of our influences thrown into one big pot.
SANDS: Y’all played with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, what was that like?
David Swatzell: Amazing. Very nerve wracking at times. And thrown out of our element, but it was a nice thing to do, an amazing opportunity. Very surreal experience, it was awesome.
SANDS: Did you feel your music lent itself well to that venue?
DB: We had a composer, William Brittelle, he worked with us to re-imagine our music, to make it fit with the symphony. It was very different than us just playing a show out.
Some of it was our music that was worked on, and then some of it we wrote with him, pieces we only played that night, and obviously can’t really be played again without the symphony. So, yeah, it was very different.
SANDS: You took a trip over seas this spring, was that a first?
David Brown: Yeah, it was great, short and sweet. We went to England, played a show in London, then went down to Brighton, there’s a festival there called The Great Escape.
David Swatzell: It’s similar to SXSW, kind of a similar concept, a lot of up and coming bands playing all over the city. It was great, a big, successful trip overall. Did a lot of networking, meeting people in the industry on that side of the ocean, which was nice. It was fun to just get over there, finally, it was great.
SANDS: Y’all are familiar with Pensacola, played here a number of times, right?
David Brown: Actually, I think we’ve played in Pensacola more than any other city. Outside of Birmingham, of course.
David Brown: Yeah, this will be our fifth time to play Pensacola in the past two years.
David Swatzell: And we always have a good time. It’s a really fun city to play.
David Brown: People come, people enjoy it.
People can come, and enjoy Wray July 24, 7 p.m., at Vinyl Music Hall. Opening bands will be GT, Brave New World and Acorns.