Classic Rock

The Wild Things

When their guitarist suffered a stroke, along with the worry it gave them their direction.


It was the perfect love story. Singer/guitarist Sydney Rae White was a 17-year-old actress when she met guitarist/lyricist Rob Kendrick. Then 26, he was a dancer and the two of them were starring in Quadrophen­ia the musical. They fell in love, got married, and started a band with White’s little brother Cam on bass and their best friend Pete Wheeler on drums.

Then last year Kendrick had a stroke. Months of uncertaint­y followed, but ultimately it transforme­d their songs.

“It was obviously very scary,” Sydney explains. “He’s a hundred per cent fine now, but it’s influenced our music in a very dark way. We had been struggling, and he didn’t know where he should go musically and lyrically, and it kind of fixed it.”

The Wild Things formed officially in 2016. They’ve since streamline­d varying influences and experience­s into their catchy, rousing pop-rock debut album You’re Really Something.

“There are bands like The Beach Boys and The Monkees and Carole King that myself and Cam were brought up with, whereas Rob was brought up more on hip-hop and heavy stuff,” she reasons. “But because we’re all so different it’s more about what’s influencin­g us now. So on one side it’s [Canadian hardcore band]

Fucked Up’s amazing new album, on the other side it’s [pop-rock/ folk singer] Carly Rae Jepsen. It’s really diverse.”

Crucially, however, You’re Really Something rocks, boasting a blend of fizzy sweetness and mature songwritin­g that sets it apart from many debuts. By turns energetic and tear-jerking, it’s a melodious mixture informed by 60s pop, 90s grunge and hardcore punk.

They’ve also been helped by Pete Townshend, who they’re still in touch with after meeting him through the Quadrophen­ia shows.

“He listened to the album and was like: ‘I think this is brilliant,’” she recalls. “All our faces looked like the ‘scream’ emoji… We tend to send him our stuff because we think there’s nobody better in the world to review our music and go: ‘This is a good rock song’ or ‘This is shit’.”

The Whites’ relationsh­ip with The Who started early, when they’d listen to the band’s records on their parents’ old jukebox, which isolated Sydney from her school peers, who were swooning over Busted and Kelly Clarkson. For Cam, who was born deaf

(he’s now got “one semi-working ear”), it was even harder. “But the minute we got into secondary school, our worlds opened to learning about what was out there,” Sydney explains.

A rapid education in rock and pop ensued, alongside Sydney’s career in musical theatre, film and TV, but music is her real passion.

“My agent will hate me for saying it, but I much prefer doing music,” she says. “There’s something so wonderful about being in a band. If it’s right, it’s so right. You get to be in a group with your best friends, and that rules.” PG

You’re Really Something is out now via AWAL.

“Pete Townshend listened to the album and was like: ‘I think this is brilliant.’”

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