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The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

Your Favorite Band You’ve Never Heard Of

Wilt Interview
Photo by: Sara Ohler
The band “Wilt” playing at Strummers in Fresno, CA on March 22, 2024.

Wilt is an up-and-coming rock band from Los Angeles that has quickly gained popularity through social media, and their first self-titled EP came out on April 5, 2024.


How did you guys find each other?

Aaron Liebman, the guitarist, and Chelsea Rifkin, the vocalist, were the beginning of Wilt before it was Wilt, with Liebman producing bedroom pop music with Rifkin.

“Rifkin has this crazy big voice that we kind of toned down for that kind of genre and it was fun,” Liebman said.

Although they were having fun, Liebman explains that it was aimless and they didn’t know the direction they were going with it. Shortly after, Rifkin moved out of state for college but was back and ready to make music a semester later.

“I was like, wow, I had a realization that she’s really talented,” Liebman said.

Rifkin went on to take a few bass lessons from Liebman, and shortly after she told Liebman she wanted to start a band.

Liebman immediately started to reach out to other musicians to join, starting with Daniel Bermudez, his “go-to drummer,” when they both worked for Guitar Center.

After many auditions for a bassist, the band was excited to go with Jake Shpiner, who went to high school with Rifkin.


You guys grew pretty fast, and I think that’s something everyone’s noticed. How does it feel going from small shows to venues on a tour?

Wilt had only played one house show before booking shows at venues. Their social media presence brought a lot of their fan base.

Vance mentioned the progression of popularity felt weird because on their phones they had 50,000 followers, but hadn’t played their music live.

“There’s been a really interesting interplay. Like we’re pretty used to having the following that we have online now, but I think the validation of really getting in a venue and meeting people like you and all the fans, it’s really refreshing and exciting,” Vance said.

Rifkin and Vance say all of them are very close and have loved touring together.

Bermudez was sure it was the honeymoon phase before the drive to Wyoming, but they came out of it unscathed.


What’s the best memory you guys have so far on tour?

A few come to mind for Rifkin, the first one being how Shpiner, who loves protein snacks, left turkey bacon in the car which lingered for a while after.

“He turkey hot-boxed the car. It was so intoxicating,” Rifkin said. “We could not stop laughing about it, probably for like 10 minutes.”

“There’s so much more than just hotboxing, like if you take McDonald’s fries in the car, you’re fry boxing, you know?” Liebman said. “So we turkey boxed, and that was crazy.”

The second memory that comes to mind for Rifkin was the drive through Wyoming.

“You know, it’s a bunch of guys and they pee on the side of the road. And I needed to pee on the side of the road, in Wyoming, and I get out and I got stuck in quicksand,” Rifkin said. “I’m trying to piss and I’m like two feet deep in quicksand, in the middle of fucking Wyoming on the side of the highway.”

While stuck, Rifkin yells for help but it takes a while for them to hear her. Eventually, Vance came to help and had to dig her sandals out of the quicksand and then rinsed them off with Celsius.

Vance and Bermudez reminisce on an exciting memory of when they played a sold-out show at the August Theater in Denver, CO.

“It was like 1600 people,” Vance said.” It’s a really mind-boggling number of people that walked in front and it was packed.”

“Yeah, doing that rock showcase, that first one we played was fucking awesome,” Bermudez said. “Felt really cool. Met a lot of good folk out there for sure.”

So far, Rifkin’s favorite venue was in Seattle because of her obsession with the city’s history and its grunge music.

“I did a million fucking projects in high school about that and it’s definitely influenced our sound,” Rifkin said.

Aaron Liebman (left) and Andrew Vance (right) playing a show with their band Wilt at Strummer’s in Fresno on March 22. (Photo by: Sara Ohler)

Are you guys planning on staying as an independent label or do you see yourself ever signing? Where do you see yourself in the future?

Rifkin said they would love to start a podcast at some point and would love to have more people on their team.

As of now, they’re their own manager, agent, producer, and make all the business decisions.

Rifkin’s mom has been a big help, especially getting their merch set up.

“My mom is slaying the momager role,” Rifkin said.

Although they are enjoying their time as an indie band, signing a label in the future isn’t out of the question. A couple that they mentioned would be a dream are Dirty Hit and Dead Oceans.

“It’s really exhausting doing this all ourselves, [but] it’s super fun and rewarding,” Vance said.

Touring the world is one of Rifkin’s biggest goals and dreams.

“We have high goals, high hopes, and we’re all really really motivated and really really passionate about what we do,” Rifkin said. “Hopefully we sign with some awesome fucking indie label in five years. We’d love to be maybe, not headlining but like, let’s say third or fourth row on a festival lineup, we’d love to do a UK tour, that’d be awesome for next year, but we’d love to do the whole world.”


What band or musicians have inspired your sound?

The top three bands that came to mind for Rifkin are Hole, Weezer, and Radiohead.

“That’s [Radiohead] like probably the biggest connection between us all, we’re all huge Radiohead fans, and then we’ve also been putting a lot of Weezer shit in there,” Rifkin said.

Moving forward, they have been going more in a grunge rock direction, which is the intended sound for their new self-titled EP.

Rifkin mentions The Beaches, Wallows, and Slow Pulp are a few bands that are newer that helped influence their new EP, along with older bands like Nirvana and Muse.


What is something you wish someone would have told you before the popularity?

“Right off the bat, don’t take yourself so seriously. It’s worth it. Like be okay with embarrassing yourself on the internet,” Rifkin said. “I was so against the cringey TikToks we were making at first, and then I saw how it translated into actual fans of our music.”

Rifkin wishes she had given into the TikTok cringe sooner so they could have made a lot more content.

“I wish I could tell myself, literally just post whatever, don’t feel embarrassed to do your shit, like you are going to be the coolest person, you know, as long as you don’t take yourself too seriously,” Rifkin said.

Liebman was the one who encouraged everyone to give into the “TikTok cringe.”

Liebman remembers hitting 100,000 followers and telling them “We need to do this more than we’ve ever done before because it’s been our vehicle.”

Although there was rapid growth on the social media side, there was a lot of downtime in their daily lives, leading them to fight the feeling of being stuck.

“I would tell myself to just stay patient even when stuff feels like it happened so fast, it can also feel like it’s going really slow,” Vance said. “And make mistakes because we’re just going to make mistakes, accept the mistakes we’re going to make and move on from that and not try to play [the] flawless game, but just make moves.”

It’s common for people to be harder on themselves than others and that influences how people express themselves.

“One thing I can think of is to not overthink the process, especially with the music-making process and the production since we do it all in-house,” Bermudez said. “Trust when it feels good.”


Being a woman in a male-dominated industry, how do you handle that?

Rifkin has noticed there are usually more men at the venues they play at, both attendees and employees. She has had to deal with catcalling while performing and even after their set ends.

“I had to learn how to be ok with mean comments. That was a big one, and also creepy DM’s (direct messages) and comments on our feed and shows,” Rifkin said. “The first experience I’ve had of catcalling while I was on stage [was] while I was speaking and while I was singing and while I was dancing, and then afterwards at the merch booth,”

Rifkin said it’s hard to think about because the majority of the bands she listens to and loves are women-fronted rock bands.

“I’ve tried to just really lean into the femininity of it all,” Rifkin said. “I look at people like Joan Jet, Debbie Harry, and Courtney Love, they are show rockers but they’re also so fucking girly and awesome.”

She uses these experiences to help fuel her emotions while writing her music.

“Men don’t go through the same things that women do,” Rifkin said. “I think that honestly adds to rock music. It adds to the anger, adds to the emotion that men can’t.”

“I just say, fuck it, women should be doing all of this,” Rifkin said.

Jake Shpiner playing bass with his band Wilt at Strummer’s in Fresno on March 22. (Photo by: Sara Ohler)

How do you deal with hate comments on social media?

Putting themselves out there on TikTok brought a lot of fans, but it also brought some hate.

At first, Rifkin wanted to stop posting videos but Liebman convinced her otherwise, explaining that mean comments are just a part of going viral and it brings them traction.

Vance didn’t let the mean comments phase him from the start.

“I think from day one I was at least able to have a good mindset because this [hate] means we’re growing,” Vance said.

Sometimes though the mean comments can be funny.

They posted an Instagram reel comparing themselves to other bands that make similar music to expand their audience.

“One of those bands was Alice in Chains,” Liebman said. “The Alice in Chain fans came for our ass. They said things like ‘how dare you compare yourself to them.’”


How do you guys spend your individual free time?

Shpiner typically spends his alone time working out. “He likes to call himself a gigachad,” Rifkin laughed.

Rifkin loves to go thrift shopping and visit vintage stores. “I’m a thriftaholic, I have kind of a problem,” Rifkin said, jokingly.

Andrew Vance, the second guitarist, adds that Rifkin is always finding the best places to eat.

Bermudez and Liebman are usually getting their nap time in while Vance is constantly on the go, whether that’s on a stage or working on his laptop in the van.

How would you describe your sound?

Rifkin excitedly jumps in “We make angsty bedroom rock for people who can’t decide if they like pop, indie, shoegaze, grunge, alternative, etc,” Rifkin said.

Vance agrees with Rifkin, saying he’s partial to bedroom rock.

“I think that was something that resonated with us when we first put out ‘Gwen,’” Vance said. “We’re making these angsty rock songs, but we’re still doing it on our laptops in our bedroom, you know?”

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About the Contributor
Sara Ohler
Sara Ohler, Opinion Editor
Sara Ohler is a 24 year-old journalism major who was born and raised in Fresno, CA. After graduating high school in 2017, she didn't know what she wanted to spend her time studying. She decided to take time off of college, but still wanted to pursue education and went on to become an esthetician. After a few years, she didn't feel challenged within her practice anymore and craved something more, so she decided she would go back to college.  She initially joined the Rampage on a whim, and became an editor in her first semester and is now the editor-in-chief in her third semester. She feels lucky and grateful to have jumped on this opportunity when she did. Sara's passion for writing started around the age of 8, which stemmed from her love of reading. A few years later she would discover a passion for photography. She wrote in her high school newspaper and loved it and she feels lucky to have been given the opportunity to experience what writing for a publication is like. Though she hasn't decided which university she would like to go to, she plans on transferring to one with a good journalism program where she can dive in to the realm of investigative journalism, photojournalism and music journalism. She has quite a few different hobbies, but you will most likely catch her photographing concerts, reading in a local cafe, or playing Dungeons and Dragons with her pals.

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