‘Stranger Things’ Star Finn Wolfhard Talks ’80s and Indie Music Obsessions

Finn Wolfhard (Photo: Ryan Gibson)

On Sunday, May 14, at Los Angeles’s Fonda Theater, the Go-Go’s’ Jane Wiedlin, Tenacious D, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Deap Vally, and members of OK Go, Taking Back Sunday, Velvet Revolver, Steel Panther, Filter, and Anthrax will come together for “Strange ’80s” — a benefit show for the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund to help music industry professionals in need. (Buy tickets here.) That’s a pretty hip lineup, but there’s perhaps no one cooler on the bill than the event’s emcee, Stranger Things and It remake star Finn Wolfhard.

“Strange ’80s” concert poster

Wolfhard is only 14 years old, but as evidenced by his musical questionnaire below, he knows more than most music geeks twice his age. He has already starred in a trilogy of videos for Canadian punk band PUP (including “Sleep in the Heat,” which made Yahoo Music’s countdown of the best music videos of 2016); he’s well-versed in supercool modern indie acts like Mac DeMarco, Twin Peaks, and Foxygen; and he does his ’80s-themed Netflix show proud by readily displaying his knowledge of Duran Duran, A-Ha, and Sub Pop-era Nirvana. It’s downright strange how cool this kid is.

What is the first album you bought with your own money, and where did you buy it?
The Suburbs by Arcade Fire, at Red Cat in Vancouver.

What was the first concert you attended, and where?
Coldplay at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, then PUP in a club in Seattle, and then Black Mountain in a hotel parking lot off Hastings.

How did you get involved in starring in PUP’s music videos?
The first one came through an ad on Craigslist. We all just clicked on set and the shoot was incredible. The next one came after my mom and I had ramen with Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux (who directed the first one I did with Chandler Levack) and PUP in Toronto. I bugged them about a sequel, and then some time later we were driving around the beaches and I get this email from Jeremy. It was the treatment for “Sleep in the Heat,” and I read it and immediately I was like, “I’m in — but I can’t cut my hair, and I have exactly two days in the next two months that we can do it.” Another fantastic experience with a great crew and Jeremy leading the way again.

What’s the most recent concert you attended?
Foxygen at Terminal Station in Atlanta.

Is there any song, artist, or album that has made you want to be a musician yourself?
“Help!” by the Beatles.

If you could duet with any recording artist, living or dead, who would your dream partner be?
Mac DeMarco.

Do you play any instruments, or want to?
I started on bass and now mostly play guitar. We found a full-size electric keyboard in an alley one day and I play that a bit, and also sometimes the drums. I had a synth, but it died. I’m still sad about it.

What’s your favorite current music, and why?
I am obsessed with Twin Peaks right now, because they have that feel shared by all of the greatest bands that together they are far more than the sum of their parts.

What’s the most recent album you’ve purchased?
Down in Heaven by Twin Peaks on CD at Decatur CD, and Modern Baseball’s Holy Ghost on vinyl at Criminal Records in Atlanta.

What’s the most surprising song/artist in your music library?
“Build Me Up, Buttercup.”

Do you do karaoke? If so, what’s your go-to karaoke song?
[Film director] Andy Muschietti is the king of karaoke and got me into it. My go-to song is “Take on Me” by A-Ha.

Stranger Things is all about the ’80s. What’s your favorite ’80s music?
Nirvana’s Bleach.

Favorite ’80s fashion trend? Least favorite?
Love the Members Only jackets. Do not abide the shoulder pads.

Pick one: The Cure or Depeche Mode?
The Cure.

Madonna or Cyndi Lauper?
Cyndi.

Guns N’ Roses or Motley Crue?
Guns.

Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet?
Duran Duran lives.

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