Thursday, March 26, 2009

Interview: Wavves (4 / 1 - Magic Stick)

(Just a guy with) Somethin’ To Say: Wavves
(words: milo)

Standing in the middle of the liquor aisle in Meijer, struggling to hear, while on the phone with a proud stoner and smart-alecky slacker in San Diego…as we talk, I’m dodging troll-like consumers sniffing milk and he’s playing video games in his bedroom.

“Wait, what are you doing?” I ask again, not out of disbelief but because the connection is so riddled with static interference. “I’m playing Fifa 2009 for Xbox 360…” answers Nathan Williams, who records and performs as Wavves – a project that’s garnered relatively large amounts of buzz in the indie music world, from Fader to Spin to countless blogs. The 22-year-old San Deigo shredder (on both guitar and skateboard) started experimental recordings as Wavves 13 months ago, the results of which were released on a full length (last week on Fat Possum). The not-quite-self-titled Wavvves features 14 tracks of ultra-fuzzy flumes, sandpaperey textures, classic 50’s pop ¾ time rhythm set to Sonic Youth guitar blazes, with vocal delivery crossed between monotone indie fuck-all and sunny Beach Boys falsetto. Often regurgitated as surf-punk or goth-surf, or grime-pop or whatever kind of oozy, but poppy, dark, yet sunny, classic-pop-meets-experimental genre label you wanna come up with – as told in guttural grunted poetry from not so naïve lips over unavoidably surf-y grooves.

The album’s been wrung out by hipsters and even sipped by would-be hipsters and now the weeklies are chomping down. I realized I had over-thought my questions, or had at least aimed too grandiosely, when, mid-answer, Williams would turn to his opponent in Fifa 2009 to call him “a bitch…” I wanted to get this partying proponent to open up and actually unpack the deeper, abstract meaning of his work (often airing real life adventures/musings on being bored, being broke and smoking weed) – but…

“Yeah, me and Ryan (friend since junior high and current drummer on tour) have heated matches. I’m about to score right now…oh my god! You mother fucker!” …voice directs away from receiver, “…you just fowled me, deliberately. Red card!” …then back to receiver… “Yeah, 2009 is going really well; 2009 is the best year yet…”

So, near the Meijer bakery, I dropped my notes and forgot to ask the potentially stand-off-ish Emperor’s new clothes question: ‘What’s so great about what you do?’ But the secret lies in an unfound charm – particularly in his sound...

Williams and drummer Ryan Ulsh are one week into a 2-month U.S. tour, having recently returned from some shows in Europe. All too appropriately considering the supreme fuzz of his sound’s aesthetic, our phone conversation - between video game banter and smarmy shrugs, is intermittently cut into by storms of static.
Wavves - "No Hope Kids"

I ask about his lyrics and if he worries messages or meanings may get lost in the fuzz – with vocals often blurring right along with the guitar. “I never thought about that until right now and…now I’m a bit scared…nah, just kidding. No, not at all. I make the music the way it sounds ‘cuz I like the way it sounds…Really, in the end, it oughta be about stuff that I’m doing, about what I’m feeling…”

I offer that, with their almost militant lackadaisical-ness, they seem like antiheroes to the rigmarole of clichéd overly arty noise-pop experimental artists… “Yeah, I like that…” Williams agrees. He and Ryan both chime in but it cuts out in the static…and I’m left nodding awkwardly into the phone, next to a potato chip display under fluorescents.

“Yeah,” I say.

Wavves plays the Magic Stick with Carjack on April 1.

1 comment:

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