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Anna Wang and The Oh Boys!

An interview with Madison's Anna Wang from Anna Wang and The Oh Boys!

Anna Wang and the Oh Boys - Madison, Wisconsin - photo by Nick Berard CD: Drive Fast
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by Mike Huberty
January 2012

With one foot in bubblegum and one foot in rock, ANNA WANG AND THE OH BOYS! is unabashed good-time music, straightforward, fun, and deliriously catchy. Lead vocalist and songwriter, Anna Wang, is a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin and ready to take on the world with her “Oh Boys”- bassist Jeff Funk, guitarist Jeremy Van Mill, and (not so boyish) Nicky Sund on drums. They’re celebrating the release of a brand new EP, Drive Fast (currently available for listening on their website, www.annawangandtheohboys.com), with a big party at The Frequency in Madison on February 3rd.

As an immigrant, Anna assimilated to American culture through music. “I moved to the US as a 4 year old”, she recalls, “and basically learned to speak English from light rock and top 40 radio of the 1990s, so my earliest memories are those of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. And ABBA—my mom really liked them. Luckily my musical horizons had broadened by the time I hit middle school.” But she knew what she liked, “I’m a sucker for a good, catchy melody.” 

And with the new recording (engineered by Bill Maynard at Madison’s Paradyme Productions), Anna’s ready to work on accelerating their music career. “This is our first EP together, and we’re really excited to get out and promote it any way we can” she says, “I feel like when I was in school, I was always half-assing the promotion and whatnot for the band, which isn’t cool. This year we will be going at it full force.” As to the track that’s her favorite, “I really like “Fickle Heart”. It’s probably the most honest song I’ve ever written. It’s about being with someone you know you don’t really care about, because it still beats spending the night alone. “ But the title track is more of a barn-burner and it’s one that the band has really embraced. “‘Drive Fast’ is a band favorite. Our drummer, Nicky, is a cab driver, so she’s particularly fond of the title, haha. It’s actually a metaphor. The song is about two people who can’t get in sync with each other because they operate on different wavelengths.” A pick for the catchiest track on the EP might be the Parental Advisory-challenged “Change of Pace”, an uptempo ode to post-breakup partying to forget.

Refreshingly unironic, Wang isn’t afraid to wholeheartedly embrace the power of songs and the joy of pop. “Music has such a therapeutic effect, whether you’re playing it, writing it, or listening to it.” She continues, “I wanted to write music that would give people strength to move past whatever hardship or heartbreak they were dealing with. There’s a ton of sappy, self pitying music out there—not saying that that’s bad or anything, but once you’re done wallowing, you eventually have to pick yourself back up. I’d like to think of the songs I write as self acceptance/pick-yourself-back-up songs. Wallowing just isn’t fun.”

The Madison scene isn’t known for having a lot of pop bands, and that’s something that Wang has picked up on. “There’s a lot of original music in Madison, which is awesome.” she says. :We put a lot of time and energy into our original songs. Writing songs satisfies me in a way that covers do not, and we as a band really enjoy the process of arranging the instrumentation for an original song. Starting with an original is like starting with a brand new, unopened jar of play-doh—you can shape it and mold it into anything you want, and there are no expectations—it just feels freer… And I think our sound is pretty different than other area bands, which is ironic because of how poppy our sound is. Madison has tons of everything from folk to hard rock, but I feel like the pop/rock that we play is a genre that’s been left behind by the local music scene. There are a ton of pop/rock groups around the country, but I think most of them are hanging out in another state.”

Wang has dreams of kicking her day jobs to the curb and leaving it all behind to tour the world. With lyrics as real as your life and tracks that are custom-made for dancing and singing along, ANNA WANG AND THE OH BOYS! will be taking the first steps in world domination by invading The Frequency on February 3rd.


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