Each year it feels like the state of the United States couldn’t possibly get any worse. The recent storming of the Capitol isn’t our first fall from grace, but this latest snapshot of political unrest has made “Welcome to America” even more relevant than it was when it was written over a year ago. One of the lyrics in the song is “pray for you on their knees,” a line written long before George Floyd’s murder and politicians praying on their knees instead of driving change. “We wrote that way before it even happened,” says bassist Will O’Connor. “It’s like a Simpsons episode.”
Instead of pointing fingers, Wilmah uses their lyrics and their new video for “Welcome to America” to underscore the chaos of it all. They lay it all on the table, calling out issues from homophobia to gun violence. Wilmah filmed the video with director Alec Ilstrup and a small team of friends in a rented out studio. Filming only took a few hours (but it was brutally hot in New York at the tail end of summer and they had to get up at 5am that morning after staying up until 2am the night before).
“There are these political issues in the world that shouldn’t be political because they’re more human rights issues and that doesn’t feel like it should be involved in politics,” says vocalist/guitarist Matt Connolly. “The big thing is unnecessary violence and unnecessary hatred. We grew up at a time when I would get home from middle school and my mom would be standing in front of the TV and watching coverage of the Sandy Hook shooting. Nothing was ever done about it. There were such tragic things happening and there wasn’t really much action taken.”
O’Connor adds that often people claim to be on the right side of things even though they’re not. This was another frustration that inspired “Welcome to America.” “There was someone storming the Capitol building waving around a flag that said ‘Jesus’ on it and we all know that the real reason that they’re storming the Capitol is that they want Trump to remain in office,” says O’Connor.
For Wilmah, the track is a return to their heavier rock and blues roots (roots that they occasionally depart from to make lighter, synth-driven pop). “It’s the perfect way to sonically match and express our anger and match the energy that the lyrics have,” Connolly. Now that they’ve signed with Architects Entertainment Group, Wilmah are plotting a string of releases into the new year that will eventually culminate in an EP. We can expect the rest of the EP to feel a bit lighter and more pop-minded, leaning further into indie rock territory.
Photo courtesy of Alec Ilstrup.