“It’s been a year,” Emma Cole says on the phone, emphasizing the word “year” in a way that makes it sound way longer than a year.
“It’s been a year for everyone,” she says in the same tone.
For Cole, the lead singer of the Denver indie pop band Wildermiss, it’s been a tough year without traditional live shows and with a sort of pause on the group’s growing momentum.
Wildermiss formed in 2016 when Cole asked some of her musical friends to be her backing band for her senior recital at University of Colorado at Denver. On that stage, things just clicked.
They began playing any show they could get, starting with a Halloween party in someone’s basement. They took weird opening gigs and Tuesday night shows where no one showed up.
“People kept seeing our name and being like, who is this band playing every week?” Cole said. “Our name was being thrown around a lot because of the sheer volume we were playing.”
Then, Wildermiss started getting bigger gigs around Denver. They went from selling out Lost Lake Lounge, which has a capacity of 75 people, to selling out the Bluebird Theatre, which has a capacity of 550 people.
“It kind of exploded,” Cole said. “But we also were busting our butts.”
There were other highlights, like playing a festival slot at the 18,000-seat amphitheater Fiddler’s Green. And their first tour? Wildermiss landed an opening spot with a huge headlining band, The Oh Hellos.
Then, in early 2020, all of that stopped.
“We’re trying to see the good side,” Cole said. “The good side is we’ve been able to slow down and write music we’re excited about. If we were on tour, when would we have found the time?”
The band has written at least 15 songs that they’re eager to perform at shows, such as this Saturday’s date at The Black Sheep.
None of the songs were inspired by the pandemic.
“A lot of people are like, ‘You’re going to write a bunch of good songs about this time,’” Cole says. “And I’m like, OK, when? This time is still happening.”
Instead, there are songs like one called “Happy Song.”
A very specific feeling inspired it, which Cole describes this way: “You’re in your car and you’re a soccer mom but you’re really cool and it’s the ’90s and your windows are down and you’re just cruising and happy.”
“When I play it, it’s like, ‘Oh I want this to come true,’” she said. “It’s a glimpse of better days.”
And, as she sees it, those days are coming soon.
As we talk on the phone, Cole is sitting by the pool at her grandmother’s house. It’s the same place music first found her as a little girl.
Cole would sit at her grandmother’s piano and play along to songs she heard on the radio.
“I got really into it,” she said. “My whole life since then I’ve been singing and playing.”
Over the past year, she’s missed that. Earlier in the pandemic, Cole thought she might try to keep in touch with her fans by covering a different song by The Beatles every day. She lost motivation for that pretty quickly.
”You know, we’re in a pandemic and it felt like I just don’t have the capacity for any of this,” she said. “I’m just going to take things slow.”
That’s what she did. And good things came out of it.
“It feels like it was so needed to remind everyone that you don’t need to function at a thousand percent everyday,” she said. “It’s OK to not do that.”
Something else good came out of the last year. Wildermiss played Red Rocks for the first time. And, because it was a limited capacity show, they sold it out.
“It’s funny that we can say we sold out Red Rocks,” Cole said.
They even got a funny trophy from their manager to mark the memory.
”It’s like this silly time stamp for us,” she said. “It’s another sign of the times. Of like, wow, what a year.”