Wavves is Nathan Williams with recent reinforcement from drummer Ryan Ulish. They will play a special early show on Wednesday at the Echo, but they spoke even earlier with L.A. RECORD‘s Daniel Clodfelter. And don’t miss Dan Collins’ review of Wavvves on this run-up to Wavves Weddnesday.
So first off, what is the story behind Wavves?
Nathan Williams (guitar/vocals): Wavves was just something I started doing by myself in February of last year. I just started recording a few songs, just for fun I guess. I recorded the guitar, and the voices and drums and everything and just for fun—and somebody told me to send a demo around. And then just as of recently, the past couple of months, its been possible to get someone out here to play drums for me and do touring and stuff—and Ryan came out, so now we’re gonna go out a do a bunch of touring, basically. Wavves is still a small baby. It’s a newborn!
You were originally in that band Fantastic Magic. What was your role in that band and what made you want to go on to Wavves, which is essentially a solo project?
N: Maybe I’m just a hard person to write music with—I feel like at least. It’s just that Fantastic Magic had run it’s course for me. I played guitar and sang, and played the mandolin and some other shit. Some times for me I can just sort the songs out in my head a little bit easier if I just do everything by myself. That was kind of the case for Wavves, for the first two records at least.
Every few months it seems like there’s a new cool band popping out of San Diego, like Muslims a few years ago, Christmas Island, Crocodiles, the Sess…
N: I feel like now more so than ever there’s some stuff happening in San Diego, but there was a drought for a while. There was absolutely nothing. I mean San Diego is still kind of a rough city to play shows in, I feel like. Well, not a rough city—it’s coming around. I shouldn’t say anything bad. I’ve done two local shows. I did a house party at this place called the Slaughter House and I did an all ages show at Che Café, before it went under. For the time being. I guess they lost their insurance or something.
What made you want your first release to be on cassette?
N: I just like the aesthetic of it. I still listen to tapes—and still listened to them at the time because my car only had a tape player—I just became obsessive about cassettes, I guess.
Whenever I hear anything about Wavves it seems that in the same sentence I always hear a ‘lo-fi Beach Boys’ comparison. Is that something you came up with, and if not what’s your opinion on it?
Ryan Ulish (drums): You do say that!
N: I didn’t say it! Most of the thing that people about me, or say I said, are just things… No, I never said any of that to tell the truth. I do like the Beach Boys a lot and their melody is one of my main influences, but from Beach Boys to Motown to Beatles to more recent acts like the Pixies—Nirvana had a shit load of melody too. It’s generally just melody and the music I grew up around, which happened to be Beach Boys, doo-woppie, old stuff, and music of my time, some Dinosaur Jr, American hardcore, and that kind of stuff.
What are some of your favorite current bands that are out right now?
N: We just played a show with Abe Vigoda and No Age and a couple of other bands. To me Abe Vigoda was—that was the first time I had actually seen them live, I really like their record, but the were so fucking good! I like Christmas Island, too. I like Blank Dogs a lot. There’s a lot of stuff, man, but I can’t think of anything else right now.
The title of many of your songs have reoccurring themes, such as ‘Weed,’ ‘Demons,’ and ‘Goth.’ Was that a conscious decision or just something that happened as you were writing these songs?
N: It was more as aesthetic sort of thing. The two records, the self-titled and the one that’s coming out on Fat Possum, were both written so close to each other. I only took a day off in between writing the two records. So it kind of was just like to me—I mean the covers are so similar as well, and the song titles are so similar, I kind of wanted it to be that way—so it ran together. I dunno, I just liked the aesthetic of it, I liked the way that it sounded and the way that it looked. That’s basically it.
You’re playing with a drummer now—do you plan to expand the line-up any further?
N: For now it’s just me and Ryan. It’s easier to travel that way, it’s easier to stay sane, I feel. When you start adding a bunch of people there are more characters in the mix. I feel like it’s easier for people to start kind of hating each other—being around the same people, in like a small box, for a long time. We’re going to be touring basically the whole year. We have up until July already booked, and the second half will come soon, I’m sure.
WAVVES WITH FOL CHEN ON WED., APR. 15, AT THE ECHO, 1822 SUNSET BLVD., ECHO PARK. 7 PM / $10 / ALL AGES. ATTHEECHO.COM. WAVVES’ WAVVVES IS OUT NOW ON FAT POSSUM. VISIT WAVVES AT MYSPACE.COM/WAVVES.