By: Briana Lao, Contributor, Regional Music Journal
Inside Three Links Deep Ellum, a small black stage sits at the end of the smaller, intimate venue. Red velvet drapes and a sign of an owl sitting on a crescent moon with the phrase “We Never Sleep” painted across the illustration hang above the stage, and art covers every free inch of wall space. On Friday, March 22, Dallas-based band The Wild Frontiers opened for local DFW bands NITE and Jessie Frye.
The Wild Frontiers consist of lead singer Trent Rush, drummer Josh Reed, bassist Kasey Wilson, guitarist James Wilson and guitarist Travis Hepler. In every way possible, The Wild Frontiers are not your average rockstars. With a tight brotherhood formed over the course of multiple years, different pasts that somehow all intertwine, and shared goals to help others through the art form they’re most passionate about, the five musicians in their early 20s are truly a breath of fresh air in the music industry.
The Wild Frontiers Performing at Three Links Deep Ellum in Dallas TX – Photos Courtesy Meredith Holser
Getting all of the band members together took years in the making, but when they finally all came together, everything just clicked. Kasey and James attended several different schools growing up but eventually landed in Wylie, Texas, where they formed their rock band Caravan Fuzz. Kasey played the drums for Caravan Fuzz, and the band’s lead singer brought along Travis as a guitarist. James then began a second project with Josh as the drummer. Josh named the band The Wild Frontiers.
“We tried to decide between names like ‘Wild Frontier,’ ‘The Wild Frontiers,’” Kasey said.
“Or ‘Frontear,’ T-E-A-R,” Reed added. “I remember it was [decided] over a text, too. Honestly, we’re all just gonna get a tattoo of just the word ‘the.’”
Despite the effort put into coming up with the perfect name for the band, the band said there is no special message behind ‘The Wild Frontiers.’
“A lot of people have meanings for their band names, but [ours] honestly just sounds cool,” James said. “That name sounds like it should be on a stage.”
From there, James, the original lead singer, and Josh decided to focus solely on The Wild Frontiers, getting Travis to play guitar for them and eventually Kasey to play bass.
“It was funny because I never knew how to play bass,” Kasey said. “I was never a bass player, I played drums. Josh asked me if I wanted to be in the band and then James asked me, ‘Do you want to learn how to play bass?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t see why not.’”
The four-piece band began playing shows together, and along the way, they eventually discovered Trent, who had just left his high school band and was performing solo at the time. James, Josh, Travis and Kasey met Trent at a show they played in Terrell, Texas over four years ago. After Trent’s acoustic set, he was approached at the bar.
“We were out in Terrell, Texas,” Trent said about his first encounter with the band. “I got long hair, blue eyes, I’m very different.”
“[You were] barefoot,” James added.
“I’m barefoot, I’m LGBT, all that stuff,” Trent said. “James has the most serious demeanor I think out of anybody I’ve ever f-cking met. He and Josh approach me at the bar with the most serious look in their eyes I think I’ve ever seen in a human being and said, ‘Hey, can we talk to you out back?’ My crazy ass thought, ‘They’re gonna beat me up.’ I was 19 and I was like, ‘They’re literally gonna beat me up.’ So I go out there with my fists balled behind my back, ready to throw some hands, and they go, ‘We’re starting a new project and we really want you to be the singer.’”
Although Trent declined the offer in order to focus on his solo career, the rest of the band never gave up. For years, they chased Trent.
“We wanted Trent for a super long time,” Josh said. “Two or three years, man. James and I would text each other late at night like, ‘James, we need him, he’s perfect.’ [James] sent me a screenshot of Trent once. One night, Trent played at the Curtain Club as Trent Rush. [James] zoomed in on [Trent’s] face and was like, ‘Josh, he’s perfect. We have to have him.’”
The band’s perseverance paid off because eventually, Trent decided to join The Wild Frontiers, establishing it as the five-piece band it is today.
“Even though I’m in this band now and it’s the best experience of my entire life, it’s ride-or-die, I’m glad I said no at the time because now, when we came together so many years later, we’re so seasoned,” Trent said.
“That amount of time we had separated was what created what we have now,” Kasey said. “If we didn’t have that time to work on ourselves as a group, comfortable with each other, writing material, it wouldn’t have happened the same way at all.”
“It truly was this amazing passion project from day one because we had all played together for years prior to [The Wild Frontiers] being an official thing,” Trent said. “It was just this, I don’t know, a perfect storm.”
At Three Links, an open bar serves patrons to the left of the venue’s entrance and merch tables for the three bands stand to the right of the open patio. On The Wild Frontier’s table for the night, a stack of business cards advertise A Voice for the Innocent, a non-profit project aimed at helping victims of sexual assault. Josh said later on that the first time the band collaborated with the non-profit was during a college house show they played a few months ago.
“ I really wanted that show to be the first launch, because I really wanted to spread A Voice for the Innocent into the younger crowd,” Reed said. “If you need help, hit them up. They don’t have to know your name, you don’t have to know them. It’s just for you to release and express and communicate how you feel. We want to be that band to push that, to kind of be that nudge.”
For the other band members as well, helping people through The Wild Frontiers’ music is a driving factor in their passion for performing.
“We want to help as many people as possible,” Trent said about the band’s future goals.
“That’s a big reason why we’re a band,” Josh added.
“I grew up in a town east of here where I did not feel, in any way, a part of something,” Trent said. “Growing up LGBT, growing up different, growing up weird, growing up rejected, it really does a number on you as an adult. If there’s any way I can ever assist someone in their youth in feeling like they’re a part of something, that’s what I want to do. That’s what I want to do with this band. Every time I’m up on stage, that’s what I’m thinking about.”
At exactly 9 p.m., Trent takes the stage with a black and white floral blazer, mirrored green sunglasses, and a color-shifting black and gold scarf wrapped around his neck. The Wilson brothers stand to the left of the lead singer, Kasey wearing a black tank, black jeans and black cowboy boots, and James wearing a black tee, black and khaki striped pants, and cheetah print loafers. In the middle of the stage behind Trent sits Josh behind his drum set, decked in a black cab hat and a cheetah print shirt with its top few buttons undone. Flanking the right of Trent, Travis dons a black and gray tie-dye tee and gray jeans.
“Are y’all ready?” Trent asks the crowd. “Let’s do it.”
The band opens with “I’ll Kiss You When I Get Home,” Trent pumping his fist and leaning into the crowd as he sings. The front of the audience is filled with the band’s close friends and long-time fans, who know all the words and sing and dance along to every song. Throughout the night, as music flows from the stage and out the open patio wall of Three Links, more and more patrons are drawn in from the streets of Deep Ellum.
“How we doing on this side?” Trent asks the right half of the crowd during the first song. Trent repeats the question to the left half and the back of the crowd and is met with cheers each time. At the start of the next song, Trent gets the crowd to clap their hands in the air as the band begins to play “Nighttime USA,” a song not yet released on any of The Wild Frontiers’ streaming platforms. During every interlude between lyrics, Trent dances across the stage, eventually losing track of the sunglasses and scarf he was wearing at the start of the show. During a pause in the song, Trent asks the crowd, “How we feeling?” The crowd cheers and Trent replies, “That’s how I feel.” Leading back into the song, Trent tells the crowd, “Get ready. One, two, three, jump!” Despite the tangle of cords on the smaller stage, Trent never stops dancing and manages to keep his feet from getting caught.
Partly due to constantly interacting with the audience at every show, The Wild Frontiers has “become one of the top attended acts in the North Texas area,” according to their official website. To the members of the band, putting on an amazing show every night is about more than just having fun. It’s about encouraging everyone in the audience to open up and forget about everything except the music.
“If I found out that I didn’t want to help people through this [band,] music being my tool, I wouldn’t want to play music anymore,” Josh said. “I wouldn’t feel passionate, I wouldn’t want to play with everything I’ve got. This band has to be a message. If not, then what’s the point.”
“We want to be the biggest fucking rock band in the world,” Trent said. “We have incredible goals we want to help people with, but the only way we can do that is if we have the support of the people, and the only way we can do that is if we have amazing f-cking amazing songs.”
Trent said the band gets together to rehearse around five or six days each week, working on perfecting songs and performances.
“We try to make our show the most fun and engaging experience that the crowd has ever had, whether they be new or old,” Trent said. “We just truly want to be an engaging band that people feel connected to on a personal level because we’re trying to change culture. We’re trying to embrace sensuality and vulnerability with the crowd.”
The Wild Frontiers continued the show, playing songs including “Drive,” “Hurricane,” and another newer song not released yet on any streaming platforms. Throughout their entire set, the band’s performance never lost energy once, and the crowd’s enthusiasm didn’t die down either. For the band members, each performance is dedicated to its fans. Whether they be DFW locals who attend every show or out-of-state supporters who keep up with The Wild Frontiers on social media, the band notices and appreciates each and every supporter.
The band spoke of a fan from Sacramento, California who makes collages of Kasey on Instagram, “Sophia from Georgia,” who was one of their “first fans ever,” a girl from Spain who sent them fan art, and “Sarah from L.A.,” who recorded an acoustic cover of “I’ll Kiss You When I Get Home.”
The Wild Frontiers is truly a band driven by the love they have for others. The passion in their voices when talking about their purpose for playing music is tangible. With hopes to play bigger venues and plans to perform in Japan within the next few years, The Wild Frontiers remains a true example of what it means to be and do what you love.
“We all have our experiences with getting bullied in high school,” Kasey said. “You should really just own it. As soon as you realize what other people are saying to you or doing to you doesn’t matter, you have to just accept it and know that everything’s going to be OK. You’re gonna grow and you’re gonna become stronger from what you went through.”
The band’s advice for their fans is all about embracing the true versions of who they are.
“Be what you love,” Josh said. “Be actually who you are. In high school, college, there’s always gonna be this bogus image where, ‘Oh, this is cool, you have to do this. You have to talk like this because we talk like this. You have to dress like this because we’re dressed like this. You have to be this person, drive this, you have to work here because we’re working here.’ Really, you have to ask yourself, ‘Am I happy?’ Honestly, do you. If you love doing something and people hate it, just run with it.”
“Flipping that switch and making that decision of, ‘You know what? They tell me I’m not gonna be anything, but I’m gonna be everything,’ that’s where it all starts,” Trent said. “It’s a long, uphill battle, but it’s the greatest feeling once you start climbing it. If you love playing music, if you love doing art, if you love doing anything against the social norm, just keep f-cking doing it. If that’s what makes you happy, if that’s what you want to do, just keep going.”
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