Interview: Ola Podrida
Posted by Joe Lazar on March 28, 2007
Ola Podrida’s debut album is filled with moving and narrative songs, that are fueled by singer/songwriter David Wingo’s uneasy, yet powerful vocals. Song after song, Wingo and the band deliver. Wingo stepped aside and talked with me.
Headless Ponch: When did music inspire you to become part of it?
David: In 9th grade I had some classes with this guy named Jon Zack and we were both big Led Zeppelin fans, which should be like, “so what, every 14-year old is a Led Zeppelin fan”, but honestly, I think we were somehow the only ones each other had ever met. So were always talking about them and then one day he got a guitar and was telling me about which Zeppelin songs he was learning, and even though I was in marching band and stuff, the idea of playing music and learning songs I actually liked had never even crossed my mind until he was talking about it. So I decided that I had to have a guitar too and that’s when it started. And then I switched schools and never saw him again after that year, so if you’re out there Jon Zack, thank you for inspiring me to ask my parents for a Squier Stratocaster.
HP: Were you in loads of bands before Ola Podrida?
David: No, hardly any actually. I played in punk bands in high school. The main one was called Inspector Vegetable and we were super-goofy, Dead Milkmen type stuff. But then in college I totally stopped. I got really bummed and jaded when I realized that there was this “scene” that just reminded me of the popular crowd in high school or something. I had always just hung out with goofy skaters, dorky punk kids, laid-back stoners, etc. and had never really encountered hipster snobbery before and was really deflated by it. So I had a really counter-productive, insecure reaction to it and just decided to totally disassociate myself with that world and to never be in bands anymore I guess. Which is so reactionary and ridiculous. I really feel like I wasted some good years now, but so it goes. I was writing songs and four-tracking them all that time though, but that was the extent of it. Then after college I started scoring films and that ended up taking more of my attention for a long time, but I did play guitar and keyboards in a band called The Maldives in Seattle and that was a lot of fun.
HP: Explain to me how you got asked to write the music behind David Gordon Green’s George Washington film.
David: David has been my best friend since we went and saw The Karate Kid together in 3rd grade and I did the music for all his student films, so it just came to be that I did George Washington as well, along with my co-composer Michael Linnen, who was a friend of mine in Austin.
HP: You have written music for all three of Green’s films, right?
David: That’s right, along with Michael.
HP: Are you working on any more material for David?
David: Last summer I scored his newest film Snow Angels. This time with my friend Jeff McIlwaine who records under the name Lusine. It played Sundance this year and is coming out in the spring of 2008.
HP: Alright, now you are the principle songwriter for Ola Podrida, correct?
David: Yes, I actually recorded the album all on my own when I moved back from Brooklyn to Austin before I had a band together or anything, and then got the band together to start playing the songs live with. But Matt [Matt Frank, drummer] and Robert [Robert Patton, guitarist] added some stuff to the recordings right before I went to mix it.
HP: Do you write all the songs completely? How much input do the other members have?
David: Thus far it’s all just been me, but since we’ve pretty much been focusing on learning all the songs from the record and reworking them a little bit to be more suited to a live setting, everybody’s definitely had their input in how the songs have been reworked a little bit.
HP: I feel like the debut has a very Texas feel to it. It feels very warm. Did the enviorment influence the album process?
David: Well, I grew up in Dallas and then lived in Austin for a total of 8 years, so I’m sure that everything about me has been influenced by that environment, for better and for worse. It’s a big part of who I am, so it’s always going to come through in anything I create, I’m sure.
HP: How long did the debut take to record?
David: For the most part I wrote and recorded it from January 2005 – July 2005, with Robert and Matt recording their additional parts during a couple of nights in June 2006. Big gap there…
HP: What was the recording process like?
David: Just me in the couple of rooms I rented out from friends while I was living in Austin, recording whenever I had time. I left NYC because I had had a dry spell with film work and had run out of money, so I was back in Austin working full-time at a video store, trying to save money and also trying to spend as much time as possible working on these songs. So the process was a whole lot of me before going to work, sitting in my boxers at the computer tweaking with flute and piano samples. Very exciting stuff.
HP: Any plans for the near future?
David: I’d love to hit the road now. I’ve never toured before and I’m really happy and comfortable with how we’re sounding as a band now, so I’m hoping that happens sooner than later. We’re currently looking for a booking agent, so I’m not really thinking very far past that right now.
HP: Thanks for doing the interview, David.
David: My pleasure. Thank you for listening to my music.
[MP3] “Run Off The Road”