"...music is a whole other thing when you’re young. It can really be the reason you wake up in the morning or the thing that keeps you alive..."

Interview by Emily Waller
Photos shot by James Potter at The Lexington, London

In recognition of the band's firm place in our Albums of the Year So Far, Emily caught up with Wednesday lead singer and rhythm guitarist Karly Hartzman following the triumphant release of Rat Saw God in April of 2023 on Dead Oceans. The new album finds the North Carolina band explore a confessional, wildly enjoyable set of songs packed with portraits of youth amid vivid songwriting and powerhouse anthems (and not a mid-week slump in sight).

Wednesday are Karly Hartzman, Jake Lenderman, Xandy Chelmis, Ethan Baechtold, and Alan Miller.

Karly reflects on a new label home, pre-judgment of the country genre and getting candid through song...

Hey Karly! Massive congratulations on the new record, it's one of our favourite albums released so far in 2023.

Is it true that your band name was inspired by The Sundays? I love them! Are you a big fan?

It’s one of the many answers I give to why we’re called Wednesday ‘cause I don’t exactly remember having a specific reason. I do love The Sundays though and I was listening to their music a TON right when I started writing my own songs.

What music did you hear at home growing up?

My dad was really into Limewire and burning CDs. So we just listened to a ton of mixes with all sorts of random shit on it. They really liked Counting Crows and Nelly Furtado and Rusted Root and a lot of classic rock and rap and stuff. It really ran the gamut. Then my sister got really into emo when Fall Out Boy was just starting to get popular so I listened to a lot of that kinda stuff for a while until I found my own music taste later on.

Does it feel strange to think that your music is now soundtracking moments in people’s young lives?

Strange isn’t the word I’d use. Mostly just extremely honoured ’cause music is a whole other thing when you’re young. It can really be the reason you wake up in the morning or the thing that keeps you alive when you’re that age. I’ve been there myself obviously so I just know what music can mean when you’re young and I’m so into the idea that our music could be providing that experience for someone.

On Rat Saw God, there’s a wonderful mixture of genre and styles explored, but very distinctive is the country-rock elements you weave in so perfectly. In the past, country music (particularly in the UK) has been dismissed as kinda rigid. What would you say is the biggest misconception about the genre and how does Wednesday challenge those outdated opinions?

I think people just don’t really know all the sub-genres that exist within country music. I think there’s something for everyone and space for anyone in it. Like obviously you have the pop/country crossover stuff which a lot of the time is the only thing people think exist nowadays. I actually like a lot of that music myself, but I get the aversion people have to it.

But there’s also so much folkier stuff and rebellious stuff and more rock influenced music within country and it’s got some of the best lyrical content out there. Then of course traditional and bluegrass music is a whole other thing. There’s just so many worlds within the genre that I think people are prone to fly over before judging it.

The source material for the songwriting on Rat Saw God draws heavily from your own experiences, ideas and emotions. Collaborative songwriting is having something of a moment among contemporary rock and pop, the likes of Phoebe Bridgers, Aaron Dessner, Christine & The Queens and Lana Del Rey featuring on or co-releasing tracks. Is writing songs for or with another band or artist something you could see yourself exploring?

Possibly! I’m just mostly trying to catch up with my own recordings at the moment. I write a lot so don’t feel a ton of need to collaborate to create further. And if I did I mostly just would wanna do that with my buddies at home. But obviously I’m open to the possibility!

You signed to Dead Oceans in 2022 following 3 records released on Orindal. What’s the jump been like so far and does it feel like a very natural progression for you?

The best part is that I’m not in charge of the business or logistical side of things as much any more. Just creative things, which is cool ‘cause that’s what I’m good at. It feels like a natural progression ‘cause it took years and we worked our asses off. Not saying everyone’s gotta do it DIY like that for years to do it right in this industry…but it did help me avoid a lot of imposter syndrome I might’ve had if we got signed right out the gate. It gave us a lot of time to figure out what Wednesday’s music was even supposed to be like.

How aware were you when recording a debut album for a new label, that it would open Wednesday up to new audiences on quite a different scale?

Kinda. I tried not to think about that too much though and just do my thing.

You had a really insightful chat with Katie Crutchfield aka Waxahatchee for Interview Magazine earlier this summer (great piece btw). In it you describe how the initial horror of having your parents listening to you sing about drugs and sex actually ended up being something of a positive experience. Would you say you’re an advocate of bearing your soul a bit within your art? And in the case of your parents, did songs on Rat Saw God open up conversations that otherwise might not have happened?

I’m an advocate for soul bearing if it helps you heal. It’s not for everyone! And it’s not easy. It definitely opened up some great channels for me and my parents to more openly share our lives with each other. I think the quiet stoicism of past generations regarding our family history is slowly being shed which feels really good.

Making time for and nurturing your life outside of touring, recording and promotion must be very challenging. Would you say you are pretty passionate about the importance of staying grounded as your career evolves?

Definitely. This tour especially has proven to me that going forward I need to be really adamant about spending a good deal of time at home. Or else the music we make about where we live stops feeling right.

If you had the power to change one thing in the industry for the betterment of all, what might that be?

There’s so many things. But I wish there was more room for people “at the top” in indie music. Like more ability for more people to live off of doing music in DIY and indie bands. It just takes so much fucking money and time to survive doing this. And obviously the grind makes it rewarding but I wish it was more easily available to make touring a stable lifestyle. It’s so brutal until you get to a certain point and if I hadn’t been in my very optimistic and energetic early 20s when I was going through all that I probably would’ve given up.

And finally, any chance you can share what brand of lipstick you wear? It’s a vibe and I adore it.

I’ve had the same tube forever. And of course now that I’m looking for it I can’t find it. But this other one I use sometimes is KVD in the shade Black Briar? I think it’s from Sephora but I don’t really remember!

Wednesday - Rat Saw God 

Clear sunspot or purple vinyl. 


Our shop spotify algorithm would always play Wednesday after we listened to anything shoegaze, emo or just great, so obvs we fell in love with their records. When Rat Saw God dropped it was like all my alt-country dreams had come true. Equal measures of bedroom emo angst, buzzsaw shoegaze guitars and killer melodies, that make me want to sit in the middle of a cornfield in the sun, drinking coke from a glass bottle and finally indulging my midlife crisis. They recently played here at Rough Trade Bristol, on a Wednesday, and I couldn't go. I will never forgive myself. Anyone want to start an emo-noise band with me?

Adrian, Rough Trade Bristol