Bismarck is full of breweries and event venues, and with plenty of venues comes plenty of different independent musicians and bands to perform on them. One of the hallmarks of this local music scene is Wildly Appropriate — a group of five who bring a variety of instruments and song styles to their work.
Their most recent performance, on July 16, took place at the Laughing Sun Brewery, where they rocked the stage with their own unique sound. Their ‘groovy garage rock’ has an interesting rhythm to it, mixing jam, rock, and even a little bit of funk into music that’s both atmospheric and intense.
Although the group has undergone multiple incarnations before reaching its current state, its main goal and music style haven’t changed since then. During their time playing, they’ve crossed paths with other musicians and played all across the country. Despite their success, however, the group seems not to have forgotten their North Dakota roots, being frequent fliers at local music festivals (including the recent Prairie Pothole festival) and even appearing on KX’s own Studio 701.
I spoke with two of the band’s founding members — guitarists/vocalists Sonda Sauers and Bart Goop — to talk about their origins, music and writing styles, and what it is they love about the musical environment of North Dakota.
The group’s ‘garage rock’ origins are quite literal, having gotten their start with meetings between Sonda and Bart sharing songs and jamming in Sauers’ garage. When they decided to find a band and take things on the road, though, the group was surprised at the popularity of their own songs wherever they went.
“When we first started, we figured we’d learn enough covers to play wherever we needed to play,” recalls Sauers,” but our originals seemed to resonate more with people.”
“I think people have been very receptive to original music,” follows Goop. “You have the covers that come out, but there really seems to be a genuine interest in indie groups and songs. And that’s the best we can hope for because we’re having plenty of fun playing it.”
Part of the group’s mixed genres comes from its mixed musicians with varying types of experience and songwriting styles. Most members of the band now are songwriters, and oftentimes, they’ll share their individual projects with each other. The members themselves are also spread throughout many different kinds of music. Their bass player, for example, plays in an Americana, an Outlaw Country, and a Noise Rock group in addition to Wildly Appropriate. The drummer is also in a pop-punk band out of Minneapolis, adding more to the mixture and giving different songs different inspirations.
“Initially, Bart and I were the primary songwriters,” says Sauers. “She’s got more of a punk/alternative indie vibe, and I have more of a soul feel. We actually have four songwriters in the band now. When we started the group, we had the idea that it was everyone’s band, not just one person’s, and that’s stayed true to this day. We all write our own songs to share with the band, and there’s no song we’ve said that just doesn’t fit. We’re looking forward to doing a lot more collaborative songs together.”
When someone thinks of the musical climate of North Dakota, at least considering its relatively rural environment, thoughts of country and acoustic guitars come to mind. But watching the local musicians who perform at the Laughing Sun shows that there’s actually a large variety of genres at play, at least in the Bismarck area — everything from bluegrass to rock to jazz and even more independent styles. It’s this variety, the band claims, that keeps them eagerly active in the state’s music scene.
“There’s a really cool music scene around here,” says Goop, “and there’s a lot of good people who support each other rather than trying to have the spotlight. Even the isolation of this place helps contribute to the art scene as a whole because you sort of need to make the art you want to see.”
This new music also comes with an added bonus — aiding Sauers and Goop on their own journeys. The duo report improving their skills with instruments, an idea they’ve hoped to work on for some time.
“I feel like a lot of times as a female, you just get pushed to the front,” says Sauers, “and so both of us wanted to be better instrumentalists. We originally took turns accompanying each other, and now we’re learning all sorts of instruments, trying to grow as players too, and not just singer/songwriters.”
“Instead of trying to be the entire attraction,” she explains, “it’s like being a limb, or an organ. You’re part of the whole, and have to learn to listen and bounce off of each other.”
The true meaning behind the group’s music, they say, is to inspire others to unleash their own creativity and grow as musicians themselves through collaboration.
“I’ve been so heavily inspired by the people around me,” says Goop, “that I would hope that when we play, it inspires people on the scene to do whatever it is they want to do. They can play in bands, and they can do it. When you’re the kid with the acoustic guitar, and people come up to you and say you did good, lift you up, that’s the best feeling. I was able to meet people who were able to play with me and back up my songs. It’s rad to be able to do the same thing for other people.”
For more information about Wildly Appropriate, their music, and their next appearances, visit the band’s Facebook page. More information about the Laughing Sun Brewery and its upcoming musical guests can be found on their website.