Ken Ugel and Phil O’Reilly are trying to introduce a little optimism into our processing of the last year with the debut of a new band, Wild Gravity, and the new single and lyric video for “Comatose.”
Written during March and April of last year, as COVID-19 was taking hold and Chicago was locking down, the song was a way for Ugel to express his feelings about the situation.
“It just felt like nothing was real at the time. This is kind of like the same day, like Groundhog Day. You’re just stuck inside. It’s like, are we in a coma? Is this a very bad dream?” he said. “(Phil and I) started talking about … this is gonna sound so generic, but just the state of the world and how tense everything is now. And just as heavy as the song gets, it’s trying to be more lighthearted. Like, if I’m, if we’re in this comatose state of just anger all the time, we need to get filled up with some peace and love, some optimism.”
With his hands in the musical output for “diet punk” band Guardrail and The Million Reasons’ prog-leaning hard-rock vibe, Ugel has a strong grasp on writing music for both. “Comatose” showcases those skills as it glides through genres, at once beautiful and uplifting but also heavier than Ugel’s normal vibe.
The writing process for his two other bands are strongly collaborative, so when he found himself writing full songs himself (both before and during the pandemic), they didn’t lend themselves to the full band setting. Plus, his creative dabbling felt like something new rather than trying to push new directions on bands with established core sounds.
“We should keep (The Million Reasons) as collaborative as possible, because everyone in that band can write really well,” he said. “This project I definitely want to be experimenting a little bit more.”
That urge to try out new avenues drove his partnership with O’Reilly. The duo met at a Guardrail show a few years back and struck up a friendship when the subject of bands rolled around. O’Reilly’s vocals and lyric-writing add the depth Ugel was looking for with the new songs.
“I showed Phil these songs back in January, and he wrote lyrics for six songs within like a month or two. He just crushed them,” Ugel said. “I was like, OK, he’s in it to win it. We’ve both been able to work with each other really well and it seems whenever someone has an idea, the other person will be like, Oh yeah, that’s what I was thinking. It’s been a great start.”
Wild Gravity has a second single, “Satellites,” in the plans for a late summer release, and they hope to have a full setlist worth so they can play live stage shows by the end of the year.