The Beat ‘N Track takes its last spin of the semester with commercial voice major Cyrena Wages. From Memphis to New York City to Nashville, Wages, along with her brother Houston Wages and her boyfriend Gabe Rabben, have come together to form a new project known as, Friends of Lola – a humanistic band which stemmed from a canine encounter.
Belmont Vision: So, tell me a little bit about yourself and your band.
Cyrena Wages: I’m a senior, graduating in August, actually. I’m from Millington, Tenn. originally, right outside Memphis. Houston is my big brother, from Memphis. He went to school in New York City and then lived in Los Angeles for several years where he pursued acting and music, and then just moved to Nashville in August 2012. Gabe was born and raised in Laguna Beach, Ca. Yup, the TV show one. He’s been on the road for three years as the drummer for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers. Gabe moved to Nashville in January 2012.
BV: How far back does your passion from music stem? What started it all?
CW: Music’s all I’ve ever wanted to do with my life. I don’t even know what else I’m good at, honestly. I don’t even think I could work in the industry, because I’d always be heartbroken that I wasn’t the one getting to write and sing and perform. I’m pretty ADD and anxious and music is a huge calm for me. My musical knowledge all came from my dad. He’s the biggest music buff I know. So I think I got a little of that from him. My clearest memory of knowing that I had a real passion for music was the days of riding through the woods to middle school every morning with my dad in his 1967 Cadillac, blasting Stevie Wonder. We’d listen to Stevie everyday. Those were the best times. It felt so good.
BV: So…who is Lola and why are you all friends?
CW: Lola is actually a 12-year-old Boston Terrier. When Gabe and I met this time last year, he was living downtown, and his neighbors, John and David, became basically our best friends. They cooked dinner for us all the time and took us under their wings … These guys became our Nashville family, and they are the ones that persuaded us to become a group. We had originally planned on just writing for other artists and looking for publishing deals, but they kind of pushed us to perform our songs ourselves. Their dog is named Lola. The name started as a joke, and then it kind of stuck.
BV: Friends of Lola is a pretty new project for you guys. How did it come about?
CW: Gabe and I went on a blind date in February 2012. We started dating. At the time, Houston was still living in Los Angeles pursuing acting, and playing music out there a bit. Houston and Gabe actually met for the first time at my house in Memphis over summer break 2012. The first night they hung out, they wrote a song in about 10 minutes. We made plans for Houston to fly and visit Nashville for a couple weeks and write some songs with Gabe. Gabe was gonna produce a demo of songs to pitch, and then Houston was gonna head back to Los Angeles. The visit ended up turning into all of us writing 24 hours a day and having a blast and sort of falling in love with the idea of making a trio out of this thing. Houston made plans to move permanently to Nashville, packed his bags, left Cali, and the rest is history. The move happened at the end of August 2012. We all lived together in a place downtown not even big enough for one, and that’s where Friends of Lola was born.
BV: What would you say your style of music is?
CW: Country, but with a bit of a ‘70s throwback, roots feel.
BV: Who are some of your musical influences?
CW: As a band our influences stem from The Band to The Eagles to Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young to George Jones. My biggest personal influences are Bonnie Raitt, and to name a newcomer, Kacey Musgraves. Gabe’s No. 1 idol is Stevie Wonder, but he also really loves Vince Gill. Houston’s would be Hank Williams Sr., Ryan Adams, etc., even though he grew up on, like, Boys II Men. We come from pretty diverse musical backgrounds, but I think that’s what is gonna make this cool.
BV: What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as a band?
CW: We all live together in a small spot in East Nashville now, we write together, we perform together, we workout together, grocery shop together, eat together, etc. It’s like “Friends.” Small quarters allow all kinds of stuff to go down. It’s complicated and kind of hilarious, but it’s awesome. I’ve never been happier. Life is pretty solid right now.
BV: What is your favorite venue to play at? Maybe a dream venue you wish to play at?
CW: We played 3rd and Lindsley a couple days ago, and that was pretty awesome. Some incredible people have come through there. But we’re also huge fans of The Basement. It feels like a living room – such good energy in that place. Ultimately, I want to play the Ryman one day. That would obviously be a life-defining moment.
BV: What are your future plans for the band? What can fans expect in the coming months?
CW: We’re working with a new management company, XYQ Management. We’re pitching to producers first, before labels. We’re kind of shooting for the big guys, Jay Joyce, Mark Bright and a couple others. Go big or go home, right? After that, it would naturally move on to labels. But in the mean time, we’re writing a lot, buying a van and booking all kinds of summer and fall dates. We’re more excited than ever.
BV: What is something people might not know about you?
CW: I can’t exactly ride a bike, my first car was a ’77 two-toned El Camino and I got carried on stage wearing a veil by shirtless men while children dressed as orphans sang around me at a show on campus one time. Yep, there’s pictures… wild.
BV: What are some non-music related hobbies you have?
CW: I’m known to get pretty into politics. I was that kid in high school who’d cry about universal healthcare and equality. Everyone thought I was kind of nuts. I liked it.