Wallpaper.: The Interview

30 Jul

As I walked up to the Detroit Bar just before sound check to meet Wallpaper.’s lead singer, Eric “Ricky” Frederick, I was surprised to see him without his trademark shades and fedora. He was a pared down version of the persona I’d seen in his #STUPidFACEDD music video, and I suddenly understood the symbolism of his band-name.

In a button-down shirt, rolled up jeans, and a pair of lace-up Tom’s, Ricky softly told me he was saving his voice, and we found a place to begin the interview. Everything I’d read and seen about Wallpaper. – that their music was the next big club-scene anthem, that the tracks off their recently-released LP have titles such as “Butt2butt” and “FUCKINGBESTSONGEVERRR” and that they were affiliated with the Jersey Shore somehow – just didn’t seem to match up with the person I saw before me.

It wasn’t until Ricky went onstage for the sound check that I saw where the members of Wallpaper. were coming from. They’ve got the soul and moves of James Brown, the hooky mixed-genre beats of modern pop, and a stronger rock n’ roll sound than their LP alludes to.

Ricky’s stage presence is strong and his energy is contagious. After The Hood Internet wrapped up a killer set and the crowd was primed for the headlining act, Ricky – now donning a white suit and his obligatory headwear – commanded the venue and had everyone dancing, jumping, and singing along. The absurdity of some of the lyrics and song titles somehow made sense and when the set ended with #STUPidFACEDD, I thought to myself, “This could be the next ‘I’m in Miami, Trick,’ by LMFAO, or ‘Paper Planes’ by M.I.A.” I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

Read on for the pre-show interview with Wallpaper. front-man, Ricky Friedman:

. . . . . . . . . .

A: Why the name Wallpaper.?

R: Pop music is wallpaper to me, or it has become that, I don’t think it’s always been that, but I’m trying to change that and make it something that we are more emotionally invested in.

A: How did you get started in the industry?

R: I started playing punk in middle school and high school and slowly got into touring and putting out records. I learned how to produce records when I was in high school – producing my rock band’s stuff. I played piano when I was a real little kid, so I have a background in a lot of weird ways, and then went to UC Berkeley and got a music composition degree and it all kind of just strangely turned into this.

A: When did you have your first break?

R: I feel like I haven’t had the break yet. I feel like for me I’ve been working for so long that it feels like a steady incline so I can’t sense any major changes – it’s just like things are always getting a little bit better, things are always a little bit bigger than they were before, but I don’t feel like there’s been that POW – that overnight explosion. I mean, I’m definitely not opposed to it, but right now it just feels like I’m working.

A: Do you think this upcoming tour will get you some of that exposure?

R: Yeah, I think that some of things that we have coming up – the MTV stuff and the Jersey Shore stuff – will probably help that, but I’ve been doing this for so long that if I think like that, like ‘Which thing is going to give me that cosmic burst,’ then I would be spinning my wheels. You always have to know that, I guess, you can’t think about the end, you have to think about the means to get there and the process and if you’re good in the moment and you’re good with the process, then things will work out.

A: Tell me a little more about the Jersey Shore/MTV stuff in the works…

R: I don’t really understand exactly how it all came together but, from my understanding, they thought that #stupidfacedd obviously fit the tone of the show so they’re going to give it a spin on the premiere episode, which is pretty exciting and pretty cool.

A: What was that moment like for you when your #STUPidFACEDD music video premiered on MTV?

R: Oh man, that was pretty wild. I sort of grew up on MTV. I was talking to my bandmates about this the other day: The show The Grind, on MTV, it was like this crazy club-dance show, I used to watch it every morning right before school from like third grade to fifth grade so I’m really like an MTV kid. Being involved with them almost has a sentimental element. It’s pretty cool to me.

A: Your LP comes out this week. What are you most looking forward to about that?

R: I’ve been working on these songs for a long time, there’s a lot of new things, a lot of new influences and I just like getting the music into the peoples’ hands.

A: What does stupidfacedd mean?

R: Stupidfacedd is the state of inebriation directly before blacking out or passing out, or before you get sick, it’s that pinnacle – that really special place where you feel fearless and you feel loving and you feel so attractive and time stands still and all your friends move in slow motion, all that stuff.

A: Is the pound sign in #STUPidFACEDD a pun on internet culture?

R: It’s a hash-tag for Twitter. I just thought that it made sense. A lot of people on Twitter will post something on a Friday night and put hash-tag drunk, you know?

A: Would you consider your lyrics satirical?

R: Satire is a very strange and a very specific word. I think that my lyrics are going to mean different things to different people. I think the meanings woven into my lyrics don’t need to be expounded upon by me. I want people to listen to them and get what they can get out it and it can go either way.

A: What do you do to prepare for a show?

R: Do sweet interviews. (We laugh, I blush) No, I just chill. I’ll have a whiskey or two and I’ll do some vocal warm ups, stretch out a little bit, have some Mexican food – that’s like every show, for sure.

A: The majority of your songs have references to drinking and partying, yet you told me earlier you were holding off on drinking tonight until after the show. Why is that?

R: Well, tonight I’m not. I usually will drink before the show but on this tour, we’re headlining and it’s longer sets so my throat’s a little sore. Post-show it goes down, big time.

A: What do you expect from your upcoming tour with AWOLNATION?

R: That’s going to be dope. I love Aaron, the singer from AWOLNATION, he’s great and I love summer touring. I love that everyone is sweaty in the van, in tank tops and board shorts, just getting gross. And the tour’s all through the South, through the dead of August so I’m looking forward to it.

A: Any last words for your impending fan-base?

R: I thought you were going to say impending doom. Uh, (he pauses) don’t fuck without a condom.

We laugh, he heads onstage for the sound check, and I make my way over to the merch table where dozens of free condoms in metal containers with Wallpaper. stickers on one side are displayed. Ah, now I get it…

(Originally published in  OC Music Magazine)

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