Squid the Whale swims in to Dayton
By Benjamin Dale
Squid the Whale. A whale named Squid. The name evokes images of an identity crisis similar to the story of a boy named Sue. I imagine a giant killer whale, ostracized from his ultrasonic peers, who only finds refuge among the bottom dwellers and lowly ink-besotted squid, where he finds acceptance in the sea.
Squid the Whale is a band — that’s their identity, no crisis. They know what they want and are chasing that dream. It’s an envious position.
To work in a band in the 21st century means forgoing many of the modern comforts and security that people take for granted and can’t imagine living without. It means not seeing your significant other for prolonged periods of time. It means putting faith in a motor vehicle to get you to that next show. It means hoping everyday that the tonight’s show will pay for the gas to get to tomorrow’s. It means not knowing how, or desiring, to do anything else. It all comes down to passion.
“If you don’t want to do this forever,” said vocalist Bradley Walden, “then you’re not gonna be able to do it for very long at all.”
He’s referring to the musician’s lifestyle — that wandering, troubadour lifestyle that many dream about, but few possess the talent or cojones to actually pursue.
“I didn’t know I wanted to do music until I was 22 or 23,” said Walden, “I was a late bloomer.”
After completing a tour of duty in the United States Air Force, a job that took Walden all over the nation as a firefighter in our nation’s uniformed services in addition to spending four months in Iraq, he found himself immersed in the St. Louis, Ill. music scene just as his enlistment was coming to an end.
“I met so many incredible people in St. Louis that heavily influenced me at the time, being a 22-year-old,” said Walden. “I realized there that I wanted to get out of the Air Force and be more expressive, more free. The military is not exactly the best outlet for creative expression, of course.”
Walden was discharged and before long, fate reached out to him when the members of Squid the Whale fired their former vocalist and asked him to join as the voice of the band. Walden relocated to Detroit, Mich. and Squid the Whale in its present incarnation was born.
“I was always friends with the guys [guitarist Brandon Kubiac, bassist Daniel Jay, and drummer Jonathan Wagoner],” said Walden, “and they had decided to part ways with their former singer and we started writing music together. Within a month we were in the studio recording. I’m very lucky in that the band had already started building their foundation — they already had equipment and skills and so on.”
Combining contacts from Walden’s tour in the military, along with musical connections across the nation, the band hopes to book an eight-month-long tour beginning in January.
“Being on tour is an experience unlike any other,” said Walden, “you can’t really define it unless you do it. Going to new places, going back to places you’ve been before and seeing the crowd grow, it’s amazing.
“We’re only growing,” said Walden “Technically, this is our first tour with this line-up, but the turnout and fan reaction has surprised us. It’s the live show. We take pride in that.”
Like all careers, when musicians start out, it’s about building that following, growing one’s business and persevering until the finances begin to reach equilibrium.
“You could have that one song that’s undeniable,” said Walden, “but that instant success goes as fast as it comes when everyone tires of that song and you fade away. Then there are bands that get a great review and get bigger because of that exposure. Or, you can quietly build an underground cult following gradually, where people care about you and the music, and care about your success, and that’s the goal — not being an overnight one-hit wonder or having girls like you because you’re a bunch of handsome dudes.
“Today, in this market, if you want to be in a band that’s successful, you need to stay up with the social networking, you have to do the business aspects as well.”
Squid the Whale is set to play with openers Bright and Early at Blind Bob’s Monday, Oct. 24. Admission is $5.
Reach DCP freelance writer Benjamin Dale at BenDale@DaytonCityPaper.com.