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Wavves: Interview

Wavves: Wavves: Interview

“Just because.” That's the truncated kind of answer you get when asking San Diegan and Wavves frontman Nathan Williams about why he put two V's in his nom de noise. His second album(Wavvves) justly has the blogs all a-buzz. That extra "v" may as well be another swell of knifed-speaker-cone pop. If Williams clams up, a rough drawing on his MySpace page speaks more about the lonely nihilism roiling under all that buzz and fuzz.

 

It's a Bermuda Triangle of sorts for the marginalized stoner who loves watching Seinfeld and Cops re-runs. A skateboard, a palm tree, a 40, a pot leaf, and a milkshake all point toward Wavves' pizza-sliced consonants. If The Smell co-hort isn't "getting high the thousandth time," like on "California Girls," the lonely 22-year-old skateboarder blogs about hip-hop via Ghost Ramp and even managed to find a live drummer/friend Ryan Ulsh last Halloween. Recently, Williams put down his remote and/or guitar and fielded some questions. His answers were just like his pop tunes: short, fast, with nary a whiff of artistic bullshit.

 

Many have already pointed this out, but I hear a little bit of the Whipers and ‘60s pop-rock buried underneath Wavvves’ fuzz. What genres or artists do you use as models for your explorations?

I am influenced by the Wipers, the Ramones, Sonic Youth, the Shaggs, Dinosaur Jr., Nirvana, Bad Brains, older Motown stuff, Mary Wells, girl groups. A lot of different stuff.

 

Have you always lived in San Diego?

No. I was born in L.A., lived in Virginia as well. I moved to San Diego when I was like 14.

 

San Diego’s primarily known for a vibrant punk scene, but has that changed recently?

There’s not so much going on, but then again, as of the past year I haven't really gone out as much.

 

Your parents were in the pop band Summer Wind. How did they support your musical pursuits?

They are very supportive. I love my parents.

 

In the spirit of “So Bored,” what’s a good place in San Diego to make you forget that you’re bored to death?

My room. I play music to pass the time. ["So Bored"] is about being bored, weird, lonely, awkward, young, stupid, bullied, whatever.

 

Your hip-hop blog, Ghost Ramp, is an interesting read. What were you doing with all those VHS tapes in the picture you posted on "2009 Is Positive"?

They aren't VHS tapes; they are cassette tapes. I was looking through to see if there was anything good, which there wasn't.

 

When did you start that blog?

It just came about because I was working in this music store in San Diego called Music Trader. It was an awful place filled with racist jocks and douchebags, so I quit. The only redeeming thing about the place were these customers who would just come and in and talk about rap records with me. After quitting I had all this time on my hands and wanted to do that again but had no one to talk about them with. I’ve always listened to rap though, West Coast G-funk, especially.

 

You mentioned on Ghostramp how you used to be a big fan of early-'80s hardcore before you were “sucked back into rap” by 50 Cent. 50 eventually became a disappointment for you, but what hardcore bands do you still listen to even today?

I didn't write that. It was written by this guy I knew and hung out with for a very short period of time, but I need to delete that.

 

How did Billy Corgan turn into a “twat,” as you put it?

I don't know. I should delete that too, but generally speaking it looks like it all got to his head.

 

You and a whole slew of up-and-coming artists utilize a no-fi sound that the Smell and Baltimore’s Wham City champion. Do you think this movement is just a continuation of earlier iterations, or does it stem from a particular reaction against modern over-production?

Probably both. Personally, I had no money to go to a studio, so I did it myself with the stuff I had.

 

Historically, lo-fi music has found more widespread acceptance in the rap world. What are some of your favorite hip-hop/rap albums that exemplify that aesthetic?

I like Erik B. and Rakim’s Paid in Full. [Enter the Wu-Tang] 36 Chambers was pretty lo-fi as well.

 

How old is your equipment? What do you use besides Garage Band?

I use Garage Band. The Tascam I used as well was from the ‘80s.

 

Many of your songs reference teenaged sub-cultures (goths, surfers, slackers, punks, pot heads). What do you find melodically appealing about this segment of American youth?

Lack of hope? I don't know.

 

“To the Dregs” and “Sun Opens My Eyes” sound like tailor-made beach party tracks. What images sparked their creations?

"To the Dregs” was written about a Ramond Pettibone drawing, and “Sun Opens My Eyes” was written about the sun opening my eyes in the morning. It was the first song I recorded as Wavves.

 

It’s somewhat rare for a lo-fi album to have interstitial ambient tracks. Why did you choose to include “Rainbow Everywhere” and “Goth Girls”? What program did you use record them?

I used a Mini Korg and a distortion pedal to record those songs. I like the way they complemented the rest of the tracks, so that was that.

 

Where did you meet your live drummer, Ryan Ulsh?

At a gay bar.

 

So the name Wavves came from the time you jumped off this forty-foot cliff near San Diego known as "The Arch?"

Yeah. I'm not too excited about water now. I trampolined off it, fully clothed. I was a teenager and had a lot of beer that night.

 

Are you working on any new songs while on the road? How are they shaping up?

Yeah, they are coming along very nicely.

 

Finally, if you had to describe your music to someone that couldn't hear it, what would you say?

I would say it was pop music, but everyone has a different idea and a different name for what they think it is.

 

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