Rare Candy is the folky, acoustic solo project of Alex Wieringa, the bassist in Chicago’s pop punk band on the rise, Belmont. Belmont released their EP “Between You and Me” earlier this year, but between working on the band and playing Belmont shows, Alex has found time to create something truly unique and beautiful with Rare Candy.
Wieringa released the first Rare Candy single “As Told By Ginger” about a month ago for name-your-price download on bandcamp and the response has been great! With multiple shows already under his belt, and a few more booked, Wieringa is moving full steam ahead, and plans to release Rare Candy’s first EP, “Cream Soda” next year. We got to ask him a few questions about the project and his plans, so check out his interview below! And then head on over to bandcamp and be sure to pick up “As Told By Ginger.” You won’t regret it.
When I was researching for our interview with you, I noticed that the Rare Candy twitter has only existed since September. When did you officially decide to start this project?
I started writing music on my own about two or three years ago and, at the time, was drumming for another band so that’s where my attention was directed. I got tossed on show lineups and talent shows last minute quite a few times and got great response so I rolled with it. I then started recording professionally last year.
I’ve noticed you’ve already played more than a handful of shows with other acts like Kennedy and Old Fox Road, and that you have a couple more in the works. That’s amazing! Have you been playing material from your upcoming EP during your set?
Yes I have! I like to keep mixing it up and playing new and much older material but the majority of my live sets are going to be on the EP.
How have the bands you’ve played with so far affected Rare Candy? Have they been supportive?
All of the bands and other artists that I’ve played with have very much enjoyed Rare Candy. The artists I’ve surrounded myself with have all been extremely supportive and always have constructive feedback. A strong support group definitely keeps my head up.
“As Told By Ginger” is super catchy, both in lyrics and vocals, and instrumentals. Your guitar playing is gorgeous and obviously very technical. How long have you been playing? How did you first get started?
First off, thank you! I’ve been fiddling around on my dad’s old guitars for as long as I can remember but I didn’t start seriously playng untill I was 11 or 12 years old. My uncle down the street always used to play in a blues bar band on Thursday nights at Bambino’s and I started going with my dad and fell in love with the sound.
What/who inspired you while you were writing the songs for “Cream Soda”?
Last summer, my best friend and I would always get off work at the same time and make our way back to my house where we’d kick back after the long day. My mini fridge was always overly stoked with cases of Cream Soda so it was an obvious go-to to quench our thirst, and an even better story to tell.
As for the songs themselves, much like many other artists, I used my music as an outlet whether dealing with heartbreak, or depression, falling in love, or just as a fun way to pass the time.
Do you look to any other artists for inspiration when it comes to Rare Candy?
Mostly just Tyler Albertson and Gino Sevarino. But in high school I was a little too obsessed with Nevershoutnever, which definitely shows a lot in my carefree writing style. But as I grew older and matured (kind of), I drew a lot of influence from The Punch Brothers, Simon and Garfunkle, Jack White, among others. And in doing that, developed a more folk and blues driven style, that’s still easy to dance to.
Can we expect the rest of the EP to have a similar sound to “As Told By Ginger”?
Definitely not! As Told By Ginger is without a doubt the odd one out in comparison to the other 4 tracks I have planned. ATBG is the most upbeat, and is the only “love song,” so to speak, on the EP. The rest of the tracks really bring out the twangy sort of swing feel that I had in mind when I first started putting the EP together.
Do you have an idea of when the EP will be released?
If everything goes according to plan, I’m shooting for mid February. What better of a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day then with depressing folk tunes?
I noticed that you’re offering “As Told By Ginger” for free download on bandcamp. Do you think doing that has helped you (and other artists who do the same) get your music out there more than it would have if you charged for it?
I definitely think free music, at least when starting out, is much easier to push then if I’d charged for it. Bandcamp has a pick your price option, and it’s the most humbling thing to see a notification that someone decided to purchase my music. Free tunes also allow for other people to share it more easily. I plan on doing the same thing for the whole EP.
Do you see any tours in Rare Candy’s future?
I see them in the future, definitely. As of right now this very second, my prime concern is the EP and promoting it. Maybe come summertime?
How does living in Chicago influence you as a musician?
Chicago is amazing. Its become to much easier to get around and push my project now that I live a bit closer. Seeing so many great acts and good friends coming through only makes me want to keep moving. Whether I expand and go somewhere else in the future, or strengthen my homefront here, I know this city has given me great opportunities.
I know that you’re also part of Belmont, who has been doing some big things this year! Congratulations on those accomplishments. Have they been supportive of your solo project?
Thanks again!! And yes, they’re probably some of my biggest fans. Even before I had joined they we’re jamming out to my rough recordings on soundcloud and coming to see me play. It’s even cooler now to be able to toss some of my style into new Belmont material.
Where did you record “As Told By Ginger?” Are you recording the rest of the EP in the same place?
I recorded with Roye Robley at R&R out of Indianna. Great guy, incredible musician, studio wizard. He has done all of my recordings for the EP.
I feel like I heard a little keyboard on the single…I hope I’m not wrong haha. Did you play every instrument on the track? And what other instruments do you play besides guitar and bass?
Little piano, little xylephone, little bit of bells and whistles. I did everything on the track aside from the claps and snaps I had some help wth. I was a drummer for a band called Nobody Move for a long time but at the moment we’re all doing our own thing. I don’t play much else however Im a kazoo master, but I do make a point to try to pick up any instrument in front of me at least once.
The powerful last chorus at the end of “As Told By Ginger”” is amazing. It makes me wanna punch dance around the room. I don’t have a question to go with that, I just wanted you to know.
It makes me wanna rip out my vocal cords and smash my guitar. But again AGAIN thank you haha.
Alright, we’re almost done. What’s some music that you’ve been listening to lately that we need to check out?
Okay, yo. Life Lessons from Oklahoma, sick band incredibly talented. Vexare, sort of vaporwave electronic music, really jazz influenced, tons of classical background, great to just vibe out to. The Tallest Man On Earth, probably my favorite guitar player, must be an angel of some sort, too much talent in one man. Anup Sastry, technical metal, not really related to any of my music, but it’s wild.
And what can we expect from Rare Candy for 2017?
Good stuff. Ep early on, hopefully bigger shows, more recording, a video maybe? We’ll see. Nobody ever really knows what they’re doing right?
You can like Rare Candy on Facebook here
Follow Rare Candy on Twitter here
and pick up some Rare Candy on bandcamp HERE
And if you’re lucky enough to live in Chicago, you can catch a Rare Candy set at Subterranean on January 15th for Arvia’s CD release show!