Robert Wagner’s music roots run back a few years. He says he was part of what would be considered the first wave of punk rock in Pittsburg, PA. “I’ve lived in the Philly area since 2009, but I still bleed black and gold,” he laughed. “The first wave of punk music didn’t really hit Pittsburgh until 1978 or 1979 – I was 18 or 19 at the time – and part of the little punk scene which mainly revolved around college students. That era of music gave people like me, who always dreamed of playing in a band but didn’t think it was feasible, or know how to get started – punk rock made that possible,” he recalled.
Robert recalls having the songwriting spirit in his heart even before he was in a real band. “My older cousin said The Beatles were the best musicians because they wrote their own songs, so he and I built guitars from scraps of plywood, two-by-fours, nails and rubber bands and started writing our own songs,” Robert said. “Even before I was dreaming about being in a band, I was writing. I was writing poetry and character sketches and things like that,” he said. “Deep down in my heart I was writing song lyrics.”
Robert continued to play music, and along the way cultivate a work life when necessary. He said he feels like that if you don’t consider your music full time, you’re not really serious about it. He’s been in an indie band and chased opportunities for success including potential record label deals, but there always seemed to be something getting in the way.
Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped him from writing songs and making music. His latest project from his band The Little Wretches, Undesirables And Anarchists, goes from edgy folk to almost fringe punk with a unique, softer Americana tint over the lot. “I’m a writer, first and foremost,” Robert said. “And if the music is too loud, the listener is going to miss most of what you intend your lyrics to say. So you have to find a way to get your voice across to the listener – and one of the ways to do that is to turn the guitars down.”
To find out more, visit www.littlewretches.com. To hear the full interview click here.