Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

Young Rockers Just Wanna Be Your Dog

By Jim Testa

They are young, loud, sweaty, snotty, irreverent, catchy, and clever. And maybe best of all, they’re almost the complete antithesis of the disengaged, Uber-ironic, overintellectualized, chillwave/chipcore/hipster scene currently dominating the lofts, basements, and alternative spaces of Bushwick. This is – proudly, unabashedly, unapologetically, and frequently shirtlessly - a rock ‘n’ roll band.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Wyldlife.

The band in its current incarnation has been around for little more than a year, and splits its time between downtown Jersey City (where frontman, bar rat, journalism student, and part-time hairdresser Dave Feldman calls home) and SUNY-Purchase, where you can find the rest of the group: Bassist Spencer Alexander, guitarist Sam Allen, and drummer Russ “Rusty” Barrnett.

“Sam and I have actually been playing together in bands since middle school,” says Feldman, as we chat over a few after-work beers at Lucky 7, one of several downtown JC watering holes he frequents. Feldman actually started out as a ‘tween drummer doing bad covers when he and Allen called themselves the Cokes. “We went through a bunch of names and a lot of different members,” he explains. “But Sam and I have always had this attitude that we should be playing in a band. That’s really all we’ve ever wanted to do.”

Wyldlife at Monster Island Basement

Wyldlife recently released its first record, “The Nicotine EP,” and has been earning a reputation as a reliably sweaty good time in dives like the Charleston Bar in Williamsburg and the Lower East Side’s Lit Lounge (whose baroque basement space the band has celebrated in a song.) The quartet also plays often on the SUNY campus. And thanks to Feldman’s ubiquitous presence in downtown JC, Anthony Susco – the guru of Jersey City’s indie rock scene – has taken an interest in the band too, booking them for several events including a raucous New Year’s Eve bash at 58 Gallery. This Thursday, January 27, Wyldlife will play its first show at Maxwell’s, opening for the Front Bottoms on a bill being co-promoted by Jersey Beat and NJ

“The hardest thing to do in a band is to get people to come to your shows,” says Feldman. “When we’re booking shows, the first thing I look for are bands who are on the same page as we are musically. We love playing with the Radio Exiles, for instance. We’d rather stand out doing what we do than fit into some scene that’s going on in the city. Being in a band shouldn’t be a competition.”

Wyldlife’s raunchy rock’n’roll sound draws in large measure from early punk like the New York Dolls, the Stooges, and the Ramone. “I have several older brothers who are musicians so I grew up around records, we had a huge collection at our house,” Feldman notes. “When Sam and I were 15 or 16, we really got into punk and bands like the Ramones and the Undertones. But we were also really into Oasis and all that Britpop stuff, the Replacements, and a lot of Seventies power-pop. “

Wyldlife at 58 Gallery on New Year's Eve

“But there’s a lot more stuff we listen to,” he adds. “Creedence and John Fogarty, Seventies Rolling Stones, the Strokes, Kings of Leon. I really don’t care about musical genres. One band we really liked was the Star Spangles. You couldn’t really put a label on them, they were just a rock and roll band. When all the other kids in school were listening to Hilary Duff, we were listening to them.”

“Another band that I really have a lot of respect for is the Hives,” Feldman adds. “They tell you right away that they’re going to be your favorite band. That’s what we’re going for. Our goal is to never have one person leave a Wyldlife show saying ‘I don’t remember what they sounded like.”

Find more Wyldlife photos here...

You can find Wyldlife on Facebook and MySpace. They will be at Maxwell’s (1039 Washington Street, Hoboken) on Thursday, January 27 at 8 pm. Admission is $8 and the show is open to all ages.


 is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.

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