Music lovers and scenesters alike gathered at Sonos Studio in Hollywood to get the first listen of Wavves highly anticipated new album, Afraid of Heights. The stylish crowd consumed complimentary brews and interacted with Sonos Studio’s newest exhibition by Beck (more on that later) as they patiently waited for Wavves to take the stage. I had the chance to speak with Nathan Williams, the band’s frontman, before the show.
We quickly bonded over The Price is Right (we all miss you Bob Barker), our burning desire to meet Dave Grohl (one of us even wrote a song about it), and the Voice Memo App on our iPhones! “That’s how I record my demos,” said Williams, “probably five of the songs on the new record started as Voice Memos.” The band recorded the new album, set to release March 26, completely on their own. “No label wanted us,” joked bassist Stephen Pope, wearing nothing but his boxers during the band’s Q&A after the show. The guys funded the entire project out of their own pockets and later shopped around for a label once the album was completed. “We got creative control over everything,” Pope continued. “We didn’t have anybody coming into the studio interrupting us.” “Yea, we got to take longer,” chimed Williams with a bottle of Jameson in hand. “It took us like a year as you guys can tell, obviously!”
Wavves worked with acclaimed producer John Hill (whose client list ranges from The Wu-Tang Clan and M.I.A. to Shakira and Divo) on their follow-up record to 2010‘s King of the Beach. “I’ve known Hill for a long time, ” said Williams. “We wrote songs for other people prior to getting into recording my album, so we already had a repore with each other.” Hill and Williams hooked up with hip-hop artists Big Boi and B.O.B last year to produce the electro hip-hop track, “Shoes for Running,” which also features Williams singing on the hook. You can find the track out now on Big Boi’s new record,Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors.
The 26-year-old SoCal native started playing guitar at the ripe age of eleven, during which his CD rotation consisted heavily of bands such as Green Day and NOFX. He carried these influences with him to create the alternative/punk band you now know as Wavves. It all started in 2008 in Williams’ parents’ basement, where he played and recorded all of the music himself. It wasn’t until 2010 that Williams wrangled Stephen Pope to play bass, Jacob Cooper on drums, and Alex Gates on guitar to form a live group.
Since joining forces the band has been keeping busy and experienced enormous amounts of success. They’ve recorded a track for Adult Swim Singles, toured with French rock band Phoenix, and graced the stage at Bonnaroo 2011. They even managed to find time to party with Green Day frontman, Billy Joe, for his 40th birthday. “He’s a big fan of ours,” said Williams of the punk rock legend. The band is quickly growing in popularity and continues to trend regularly on Rollingstone, Pitchfork, and other popular music sites.
Next week Wavves will hit the road and head to SXSW where they’ll be playing a show every day for the duration of the music festival. Immediately afterwards, they’ll embark on a 5-week U.S. tour with sold out shows in L.A., Chicago, and Brooklyn. The punk band will be sharing the journey and stage with opening act and friends, Fidlar.
Wavves is also scheduled to make their way to Japan, South Korea and China for a small tour of Asia and perform at yet another music festival in Australia this summer. “It’s easy to play music and drink for a living,” said Williams. Oh, the life of a rockstar!
To keep up with the latest from Wavves check them out at Wavves.net. Make sure you also check out Sonos Studio to learn more about Beck’s Song Reader Exhibition, a unique and interactive experience for musicians to record their own interpretations of singer/songwriter Beck Hansen’s latest project. “Not so long ago a song was only a piece of paper, until it was played by someone,” noted Beck. The artist hasn’t recorded a single song himself and isn’t really planning to. He’s leaving it all up to you. Pretty cool, right? To book an appointment call (323) 782-9142 and record your own version on Sonos’ state of the art equipment for FREE.