Wallpaper Frontman Ricky Reed Talks Pop Music, Jersey Shore & Realism

Kim Cummins

Remember in high school, there was always that one kid who was so much cooler than everyone else? Ricky Reed was probably not that kid.

Instead, he was out pulling crazy stunts, finding the most eclectic group of friends and actually living life.

Fast-forward from those high school days, and now Reed is still leading those crazy friends, but now they’ve taken their act onstage and around the world. Reed is the lead in a pop/ dance/electro band called Wallpaper. And he’s making people think.

The group made their way from Oakland to Chicago to perform at the House of Blues, where all ages were invited to rock out with the band. Through the six song set, Reed and current touring partner Novena Carmel jumped, danced and gave a hands-down all star show. Despite the stage antics and high energy, the music’s lyrics resonated most with the young audience full of twenty-something’s

The lyrics come off as satire, but Reed claims to have other intentions. “Whether it’s sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek or there’s supposed to be a pun intended, it’s too layered and too diverse to narrow it down to that,” Reed said. “Ultimately, the fact that the records feel good is what people walk away with. It feels good. It feels fun. Within that, it’s sincere.”

Reed’s lyrics come from a desire to be realistic and to resonate with his fans. “All the records on pop radio, [talking about] drinking really, really expensive champagne and having all kinds of diamonds in your watch, is just not how it is, but people still want to party,” Reed said. “So, what do you do when you go to the club and you still want to party and the only songs that they’re playing have lyrics that alienate you, or in this economic time, make you feel poor?” For Wallpaper., the answer is clear: make music about the way that people actually party.

From raping about getting “White boy wasted” from a “Super Soaker filled with Four Loko/ Plus SoCo real gross yo,” on his latest song “STUPiDFACEDD” or detailing the fine art of drinking before going out to drink (aka, pregaming) in “Getting Drip,” you’d think Reed spent his Saturday nights at any of the newest bars in River North. It’s college life taken to the next level.

There are countless more lyrics that students can relate to, but perhaps the most poignant for many come from “F*****g Best Song Everrr.” While declaring everyone in the bar to be his best friends, Reed switches back and forth to broken Spanish. How many of us can deny having the same experience at least once?

Onstage, Reed and his female counterpart, Novena Carmel, break out their best dance moves, spinning, jumping and sometimes just flailing limbs in the air. Their stage presence matches perfectly with the music: over the top, outrageous and things most people could just never do. It’s no stretch to say that Reed and Carmel have the most fun of anyone at their shows.

Reed openly admits that his sights are set on world domination through his music, and as a featured artist on Jersey Shore his goal doesn’t seem too unrealistic. With such an opposition to the ridiculousness of the rich partying in today’s world, Reed was at first taken aback by his new platform. “When I first heard about it, I was like, ‘Whoa… that’s so weird,’” he said. “And as it went on, the music does kind of work with the show.”

Taking advantage of the new opportunities that the show has given him, Reed plans on expanding his creative horizons. “I'll continue to feed my and my fans’ appetite for cool shit,” he said. “In terms of anything, just art of any sort, content. Things for people to chew on and digest and think about.”