photo by Natalia Mantini
New York’s The Wellington Papers is music at its most genuine: A group of friends who play together for the pure fun of it. Fortunately for the band, which is headed by longtime friends HB Wellington and Lex Verlock, having fun is all they needed to do in order to get some major attention. The group have been receiving positive buzz for “Jackie,” their ode to the legging-wearing hipster honies, as well as their versatile New York Times mixtape. And although the guys are on a great track in terms of recorded material, they tend to truly thrive when they are playing live. The band, which has only been around for a little more than half a year, jam together like true veterans in their element—lead singer HB shamelessly flails from one side of the stage to the other, and Verlock electrifies the room with his endless amounts of energy. These guys are having the time of their lives, and the vibe they give off is the epitome of infectious. Despite the fact that they were opening for Talib Kweli the night I saw them, they still managed to win over the strictest of rap fans by the end of their fast-paced set. They even already have a group of loyal fans that follow them from gig to gig (one of which is an upcoming show at The Mercury Lounge on March 25th, which I HIGHLY recommend).
I had a chance to sit down with Lex and HB, where we talked their beginnings, influences, and more.
How did your New York surroundings affect your influences?
HB: I don’t think where I grew up or where I hung out had anything to do with what I listen to. I’m speaking from a New York-centric point of view just because I don’t have any other. But we were at point where it was like cool to like Guns N’ Roses but it was cool to like Big Daddy Kane and it was cool to like Nas. It was like the lines between what was what weren’t so divided between black music and white music. So kids in the hood listened to Z100, R95 that shit—but we also listened to 98.7. So we listened to everything. I had an older brother— he wasn’t a DJ but he had techniques and all that shit and he was much older so that was when I was like five.
I understand you both produced for G-Unit. How did that come to be?
HB: We were making beats for a long time and growing up in New York you know someone that knows someone and shit happens over time, so our lawyer at the time was also representing 50 and G-unit. The lawyer gave them a CD with some beats on it and they liked it and we did a couple joints. One of them actually came out and that was “I Know You Don’t Love Me.” We were trying to get more work and it was slow going. It was the same old bullshit and A&R had no vision, so they would just want you to make stuff sounding like something else and they always wanted what was popping at the moment, not what was going to be popping.
Tell me a little about your sound.
Lex: Our shit has like a” Marley Marl” drum to it. but it might have some sort of psychedelic wild-out guitar or like a really tight rhythm guitar. It’s just a reflection of who we are. We don’t set out to make anything—we just do it.
HB: The lyrics have the best of light, playful, mid- nineties. hip-hop vibe had to it. But it’s over music that draws on punk, ska, and reggae, and even blues, and like Beach Boys weird surf hippie stuff.
Lex: It’s not heavy. It’s pretty easy to adjust yourself to.
HB: We don’t write the songs— for the most part, it’s just extended free style songs; it’s like nursery rhymes. “You on my mind, thinking about you all the time.” It’s easy.
Lex: And live it’s just like fucking bonkers. It’s crazy.
So what’s next?
Lex: Were going to put out an EP, or like an A side-B side in the next couple months. For us, I think what is really important are our live shows. so we’ve been practicing and getting new songs into our repertoire— just working on sort of building that out. We have like a Goon squad that already comes to our shows and they see us every time and they watch us and wild out. That energy becomes infectious and goes the fuck back in the room, you know what I mean? When you see us, you’re going to have a good fucking time.