Five years removed from their 2017 debut album, Thirst, Richmond indie-pop band, Erin & the Wildfire returned with their triumphant, vulnerable and empowering new album, Touchy Feely this April. Recorded in 2021 after a year and a half of virtual songwriting and collaboration during the global pandemic, Touchy Feely finds the band shifting gears both sonically and lyrically into more mature and personal territory. Swapping songs of heartbreak and romance for powerful self-acceptance anthems and introspective songs of personal growth, Touchy Feely finds the band – fronted by vocalist Erin Lunsford – feeling more comfortable in their skin than ever before.
The ten-song release also found Erin & the Wildfire working with songwriter and producer Matthew E. White to fully flesh out the album’s themes and sounds, making the long wait between albums well worth it. The result is something that feels very deliberate in its content and delivery, as well as something that listeners will easily relate to.
Erin & the Wildfire are currently in the midst of tour dates in support of Touchy Feely, with shows wrapping up on June 19th in Charleston, SC. We caught up with the band to look back on the album’s writing process, the lyrical themes, their growth throughout the years and much more. Read the full interview and listen to Touchy Feely now below.
Prelude Press: You celebrated the release of your sophomore album, Touchy Feely last month! Now that it has been out for everyone to hear for a little bit, what are some of your favorite things about the album? What were you most excited for fans to hear on it?
Erin & the Wildfire: Thank you! We have felt so much love for Touchy Feely in the last month. Our fans have been so supportive and delightful. Just realized we need a jazzy name for Erin & The Wildfire fans… taking suggestions. My favorite parts of the album are the tiny moments that reflect how carefully we put together these songs. For example, Matt’s bass tone and melody in the outro of “Little Me,” Stephen’s synth swell at the very beginning of “Ray of Sunshine,” Nick’s kick/snare fill leading into the third chorus of “Rich,” and Ryan’s playful guitar part that drives the bus for “Wake Up.” I’m so proud of the detail and thoughtfulness we used in the demo and recording process and I’m excited for fans to hear the evolution of our sound since our last record. To us, it’s a big difference!
Touchy Feely follows your debut album, Thirst, released in 2017. I know I am a vastly different person than I was five years ago, and I’m sure you can probably say the same. How do you feel you’ve grown – whether as a band or individually – between the two album releases?
Thirst feels like my 5-year-ago ex-boyfriend now. I’m proud of the relationship that we built, and I definitely needed that experience to make me who I am today. But you should really see my next album… She’s fine, sophisticated, and a total evolution of Erin & The Wildfire’s sound. Thirst was a blast to make and we put a lot of heart into that record, but we didn’t have the same tools or the same perspective that we do now. Lyrically, the content is quite different from Thirst to Touchy Feely – changing focus from unrequited love, solitude, and romance quarls, to self-love, body acceptance, and personal growth. Musically, the latest album grew up as well and our sound is more refined than ever.
Musically, was there anything you wanted to try on Touchy Feely that you didn’t get to do on Thirst?
So many things! Thirst was like a flash in the pan with studio time. We ran in there, slapped down all 13 songs or however many it is and had no time for ear candy, tiny details, or production really. So Touchy Feely was so fun to record because we had a producer, we had time to flesh out demos, and were able to dial in and experiment with sounds more than we ever had before.
Your music is frequently driven by personal, powerful lyrical content. Was there anything that you knew you wanted to touch on going into Touchy Feely?
The lyrics in this album are very personal and I’m so proud to share them, because as much as unrequited love is universal, body image issues and a journey through self-love are even more widely shared. I hope people feel empowered by these songs and can take these messages into their daily lives. Singing about body positivity and body acceptance definitely helps me to walk the walk and not just talk it.
Were there any songs in particular that felt cathartic to write?
“Little Me” was particularly therapeutic to write because it actually came about from a session with my therapist. We were discussing my younger self and how I was so carefree, non-judgmental of my body, and thriving. I wasn’t worried about my belly or my body image, I was just trying to play outside, find cool rocks, and climb trees. I get to share that story when I play the song live and invite the audience to connect with their inner child too. It feels like a healing experience everytime we get to play it.
Speaking of the writing process, I know a lot of the album was written during lockdown – how did that affect the way you guys wrote and worked on the album? What sort of challenges did you have to overcome?
Pre-pandemic, our writing sessions involved me bringing a song to rehearsal in guitar or piano and then trying to arrange the tune as a 5-piece on the spot. Since we couldn’t get together through the pandemic, we were forced to abandon that previous writing style and shift to online sessions. Someone would send out an idea and then we would all take turns digitally adding our own spin on it. We worked up about 25 sketches and narrowed it down to 8 or so that we really wanted to move forward with for this record. I think it was ultimately a more creative writing process this way because people weren’t limited to their respective instruments or comfort zones like you would be in a live writing session.
What was the most exciting or rewarding part of working on the album?
We had a show at The National in Richmond, Va recently and I received maybe 5-10 messages to my personal IG account after the show from people who were so moved by the lyrics of our songs about body acceptance. It is SO rewarding to see our music making an impact on people’s personal lives.
You’re currently touring in support of the new album, too! What has it been like to be out on the road again? What has been the highlight of these shows?
Touring again is wild. We love it and are so happy to be back on the road, but we are definitely feeling the effects of the pandemic still. Every show we get a text from some friend who says they can’t make it because they got Covid. We are all vaxxed and trying to move forward as safely as possible, but this stuff does wear on me. Since we haven’t been able to tour for a couple years, the highlight of touring is seeing old friends again. Sometimes I just wanna use touring as an excuse to get out to all the cities where my sweet friends live and be in community with music together <3
What can fans expect from an upcoming show?
We’ve got a really fun show right now. It’s energetic and sweet and personal and dancey. Expect lots of smiles and some hip movements.
Do you have any other big plans for the rest of the year?
We are touring through the summer and then plan to get back in the studio this fall! We don’t want to wait another 5 years for album #3
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for having us! Please go stream our music and give us a follow!