Mary Lucia: Q&A with Reed Wilkerson

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Reed Wilkerson and Elle Mae
Minneapolis singer-songwriter Reed Wilkerson and his canine companion, Elle Mae. (courtesy Reed Wilkerson)

I had some random questions for a Minneapolis singer-songwriter who leaves thenaudience slack jawed: front man Reed Wilkerson. Reed has the sweetest dog, Elle Mae, and does a most memorable rendition of Bowie's "Rock and Roll Suicide." Here's our chat:

MARY LUCIA: What posters hung on the bedroom walls of teenaged Reed?

REED WILKERSON: When I was a teenager, my walls were covered with posters and pictures! I used to make collages of photos of my favorite musicians cut from magazines like Rolling Stone, Spin and Alternative Press: Led Zeppelin, The Doors, 2Pac, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses, Incubus, Master P. When I was about 16, my mother sat me down in my room and asked me if I was gay; looking around the room at all the pictures, nearly every photo was of shirtless tattooed men. "I love you either way, but you don't have any pictures of any women on your walls!" So I went and bought a big poster of Carmen Electra! Haha.

What was the name of the first song you wrote? If it was released in the 80's who would have covered it?

The first song I wrote, I was about 14 in my first band, Modern Day Supplement. It was called "Naked" and it was about my affinity for getting naked! It had deeply poetic lyrics like, "Naked is what I like to be / Naked is when my wang is free." I would like to say it would have been covered by The Descendants or early Red Hot Chili Peppers, but it probably would have ended up getting covered by Limp Bizkit due to the genius lyrical capabilities of a sexually frustrated 14-year-old — seems like Fred Durst would get it.

Is there anyone that inspires you creatively yet simultaneously makes you feel a fool and defeated by their singular untouchable talent?

Justin Timberlake. Is there anything he can't do? He can sing, write, multi instrumentalist, dance, act, do comedy! The man seems to have limitless talent and creativity. I have no desire to be a pop star! I'm just inspired by those who cultivate multiple disciplines.

What's the most valuable mistake you've made in your life?

I've been fortunate enough to live a life filled with mistakes. Every mistake and failure is valuable if you allow yourself to learn and grow from it. I'd say one of the more valuable mistakes I've made is feeling entitled. Feeling entitled to something means you think you are owed something; let that take control, and things go south quickly. Throughout my life I've grappled with feeling entitled to different things: feeling a certain way, attaining a certain goal, being thought of in a certain way, getting something I felt I deserved. I've learned that I'm entitled to nothing. I get what I work for and I have to work hard for those things. I hurt myself and a lot of people on my journey to figuring that out. If I want something, I have to earn it by working for it; that goes for relationships, work, art, sense of self, finances, everything.

Is there a movie you've seen that is so quotable you can use it as a religion for daily living?

There's probably not a day that goes by that I don't quote The Big Lebowski. That's probably one of the more quotable movies of all time, so I feel like it's a little too obvious. So I'll give a second movie that I feel doesn't get enough credit as the masterpiece that it is … Airheads. "Who would win in a fight, Lemmy or God? … Trick question! Lemmy is God!"

Have you ever had a ghost?

Yes … I don't want to talk about it. Let's just say I sleep with a weapon next to my bed — a nightlight.

When you started your woodworking designs, was it out of fearing you needed a plan B career?

Actually, when I started doing the woodworking thing, I had no thoughts of it becoming a career. I was simply needing a solution for the musical clutter around my place. I had guitars and amps and cables and mics strewn about everywhere. So I stole a wood pallet from the place I was working at and built myself a multi-guitar guitar stand with my friend's tools. Then I decided to add a shelf and drawers as storage for all the accessories that come with playing guitar. I posted a picture of it online and started getting orders for it! Two-and-a-half years later, I've got a business with a couple employees, and we make all kinds of stuff. It's kind of crazy!

As far as a "backup" though, my plan has always been for the woodworking to supplement the music career. It's tough to make money in music; sometimes you end up having to make artistic decisions based on money in order to keep it all going. For instance, I've got to play X number of shows and hopefully sell X amount of merch in order to make enough money to record and release the next album.

I don't find a single thing wrong with making money off your art, it's something a lot of artists have a hard time talking about. Money is only a tool that can help you create things. It's just very easy to find yourself hustling more and more and creating less and less. So with my woodworking business, I'm able to make enough money to support myself and also now finance the music on my own. I got lucky and have created a life for myself where I get to make and create everyday. I have a new band now called The Revenge Wedding, we're about to make our debut at SXSW. I'm very fortunate to have the life that I have and be able to start a new band and have our first shows be on the road. Music is the passion of my life. Woodworking is also a passion, but it's the art that I can make a living on, my commercial art.

If you wrote a tell-all book about your last landlord, what would it be called?

"Reed and His Misadventures with the Bi-Polar Bear," followed by the sequel, "How to Live in Your Parents' Basement at 30."

Favorite decade for fashion?

Whichever decade invented tight black jeans. That's pretty much all I wear. Sometimes I'll wear a shirt, but I'm always losing them. Tight black jeans are harder to take off.

What's the last meaningful conversation you had with your beautiful pitbull, Elle Mae?

"It's just you and me babe, we don't need her anyways, we'll find you a mom one of these days. No it wasn't your fault, daddy's a self-involved a*****." LOL

If you could have one song to play every time you enter a room, which would you choose?

When I was a kid, I was really into pro wrestling. I would always fantasize what my entrance music would be if I were a wrestler. I settled on Billy Squier's "The Stroke."

Resources


Reed Wilkerson (Facebook)

Reed Wilkerson (Soundcloud)

RFW Designs

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  • Reed Wilkerson
    Minneapolis singer-songwriter Reed Wilkerson (Shari Simonsen)

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