The Local 913: Bikini Islands
Formed about three years ago, the Pittsburgh surf and garage rock band Bikini Islands recently released their new self-titled studio debut. When front man Kyle Wacker, originally from Robinson, PA, was first interested in guitar as a teenager, he was surprised to know there was a musician in his family.
“I found out during that time in middle school that my uncle played guitar. I had no idea that he had guitars! He gave me an old Yahama acoustic and the action was like an inch off the fingerboards. I had to work to learn how to play this guitar. It wasn’t gonna be easy. I couldn’t use a pick, so I kept getting blisters on my thumb. I would just hit strings with my thumb. I didn’t really know what I was doing.”
After creative differences in his previous band, Wacker took some time to regroup. He began writing songs that he planned to sing, which was a first for him (“I was always the guy shoe-gazing in the back with the guitar. It’s kinda weird to be up front”). Although the songs were a more simple pop structure, he found interesting challenges in his new writing.
“Just to learn how to sing and how to write a song, really. There’s more to it than putting the music together. You gotta put more of yourself into it, which is why I shied away from it before. It’s scary to put your ideas out there and write words and then people can see you a little bit of you in the song. That’s what’s terrifying.”
Wacker cites The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson’s writing as a big influence on his writing
“I saw that movie “Love & Mercy.” I remember listening and watching Brian write. The melody for vacation, I thought it has to have a super strong melody for the beginning of the song. Like a Beach Boys song. I’m not trying to copy the Beach Boys, but I wanted a nice melody to start the song and set the tone. After I saw that movie, I went home and really worked on just that one line.”