Wavves

Lee's Palace Presents

Wavves

Post Animal

Thu, May 18, 2017

Doors: 8:00 pm

Lee's Palace

Toronto, ON

$26

Tickets Available at the Door

This event is 19 and over

Wavves
Wavves
The word 'brat' has followed Nathan Williams around for almost a decade, but at
the age of 30, with a fully-fledged business to his name, as well as the ongoing
success of band Wavves, his rebellious streak has proven not just purposeful but
preGy damn inspiring. The San Diego naJve knows how to play the system, so
when the major labels came knocking a few years ago looking to turn Wavves into
the next so-called saviours of radio rock'n'roll, Williams and bassist Stephen Pope
made sure they used it to their advantage.
“We were just trying to go to eat at nice places in LA,” he laughs. “There were a
few people from majors who would not stop reaching out to us. They were
obsessed. They thought we had heat and they needed an edgy big rock band like
they used to have in the '90s. Me and Stephen were in our shiGy apartments,
Googling 'nicest restaurants in LA'. We went to eight or nine dinners. At the end
we'd say, 'not interested'.”
When Warners came along and offered them a cash advance too good to refuse,
they accepted while being shrewdly aware of what they were geTng themselves
into. “We sJll owned all of our shit, which was the most important part for us. For
them it was a shot in the dark.” The day to day of being signed to a major,
however, was unpredictable and beyond their wildest nightmares. “I figured it
would run the same as [prior label] Fat Possum, just with more people. I was
wrong.” By the Jme they were readying to release their second Warners album –
2015's 'V' – shots were fired. Williams released single 'Way Too Much' on
Soundcloud before the label had approved it, the label forgot to sign off on the
artwork and, in the end, Wavves felt swept under the rug. UlJmately it felt like a
career step backwards.
“I'd never come in contact with such a poorly run company in my life,” says
Williams. “It was anarchy. Nobody knew what they were doing. Turnover rate was
like an American Apparel. It was really all cons – unless you’re a cash cow. For
everyone else, major labels can’t help you. Maybe at one Jme they could, but that
Jme is dead.” The birds-eye view on Warners' inner mess wound up pushing
Williams to legiJmize his own business – Ghostramp. “I figured if these idiots
could get by, we could do it a hundred Jmes beGer.”
With that fighJng spirit, Williams took back control and realized his own teenage
dreams. Today, during a Monday lunchJme hour, he's making Jme between
meeJngs to talk about forthcoming sixth Wavves record 'You're Welcome' in the
stock room at Ghostramp's Chinatown-based LA skate shop. Opening in October
2016, Ghostramp is the physical embodiment of a vision that harks back to before
Williams made the first Wavves' albums in his parents' garage. It's a merchandise
store, it's a label, it's a tangible community in a Jme when the digital age has
taken the confidence out of physical product. And – what's more – it's working.
'You're Welcome' is the soundtrack to this new lease of freedom. It's Williams'
tongue-in-cheek rebirth as a self-released, self-actualized, self-promoJng punk
kingpin, and despite puTng his money where his uncensored mouth is, he's
emerged not just unscathed but with the upper hand. “I’m my own boss and that
feels great,” he smiles.
In February 2016, months before Ghostramp opened, Williams took himself into
producer Dennis Herring's ['King Of The Beach'] studio in Downtown LA, and for
the first Jme since the early records worked regular office hours and almost
enJrely alone. It was the polar opposite experience to making 2013's 'Afraid Of
Heights' record, which took Wavves over a year and was “out of control”. “We
were so fucked up in the studio – everybody, the producer, the engineer, everyone
recording. We'd waste days,” recalls Williams. With this, Williams brought
everyone in one at a Jme, ensuring it was the minimum amount of people
possible. That prevented the recording from descending intomidnight oil-burning
party sessions.
The album was put together wholly differently from 'V', too, which was recorded
live as a band album together with guitarist Alex Gates, drummer Brian Hill and
Stephen in the studio. 'You're Welcome' is mostly comprised of Williams' oddball,
sample-led brainstorms. He came up with 40 tracks, now whiGled down to twelve,
fat-free punk zingers. “I'd come up with an idea, fool around with it, have Brian
come in and play drums, then figure it out.” A sample nerd, Williams delved into
his obsession with 1950s doo-wop and – surprisingly – internaJonal folk, including
Cambodian pop and '70's psychedelia from South America.
The results make for one of the most diverse and intricate Wavves records yet.
'Come To The Valley' contains a Phil Spector meets Beach Boys '60s High School
dance vibe, whereas Jtle track 'You're Welcome' riffs on sound effects that could
almost originate from Bizarro World, never mind Cambodia. Some of his ideas ran
away with themselves a liGle too much, as Williams reveals one track was a liGle
too close to Drake's 'Hotline Bling' for comfort. 'Million Enemies' is right in his
comfort zone though. Inspired by New York Dolls, Bowie and Gary GliGer, he calls
it “the anthem song.” “It's a song for the haters,” he says. The lyrics “I got
enemies, a million enemies, living in the streetstonight” are a call-to-arms for
anyone whose detractors are out to get them. “I don't have a million enemies,”
jokes Williams. “But probably 500,000.”
The biggest shij of all, and the ulJmate laying down of the gauntlet to Williams'
doubters, is the subject maGer. Where 'V' was a “buzzkill” record, all hangovers,
lovers' Jffs and depression, 'You're Welcome' is less navel-gazing. It's dealing with
maGers outside of Williams' own headspace. “I'm Jred of wriJng about myself,”
says Williams. “It got boring. On this record I tell more stories, talk about parts of
my life from other people's perspecJve.” 'Stupid In Love' for instance is about a
female junkie who lived near him back in San Diego. 'Animal' is his anJ-corporate,
anJ-establishment track. “The whole world covered in gasoline and burning alive/I
feel taken advantage of and empty inside” go the lyrics.
On their last tour, Wavves banned members of the audience, including
homophobes, anJ-aborJonists, racists, and Trump supporters. Ghostramp's
website is currently donaJng to the likes of ACLU, Planned Parenthood and
NaJonal ImmigraJon Law Center. On 'You're Welcome' too, it seems Williams has
decided to get poliJcal, parJcularly on the song 'Exercise', with its lyrics “dancing
while the world is burning down… I can't believe the shit they feed to us/They're
lying to our face.”
“I never thought I'd write a song like that,” says Williams. “I don't know if it's
because I'm older or because shit got so fucked up and crazy but at this point now
you shouldn't be worried to say something. I wanna make it very clear what side
I'm on. If you're quiet about it because you don't wanna upset some of your
fanbase, then that's part of your fanbase you need to weed out.”
There's also – finally – a love song, called 'I Love You' that lays Williams' emoJons
bare unashamedly for the first Jme. Perhaps too, a sign of maturity. “It's just a
love song,” he says. “I'd always skirt around feelings and find different ways of
saying things unless I was literally saying, 'I'm depressed.'”
Offering a tour around Ghostramp's store, Williams explains that they're already
looking to expand and move into a bigger space next door this year. Back in 2013,
he put out Wavves' 'Life Sux' EP by himself. It was too much of a headache and he
realized he needed to build a team of capable friends. Now that team runs this
daily operaJon, proving that DIY and business savvy can be bedfellows. It's sJll
hilarious to Williams that even in the early days, people would chasJse him for
“selling out”. “Did people think that when I'm 45 I'd sJll be recording records in
my mom's basement? Being an entrepreneur, having a hold over your own
business, being able to employ your friends and create not just a place for fans
but for other people to share their ideas too is so cool.”
Via Ghostramp, Williams isn't just puTng out Wavves' new record, he's signing
other local garage bands, funding his tours, schooling DIY arJsts in how to create
and distribute merchandise in a way that supports your career and provides future
security where nobody else can. As for Warners, that cash advance helped pay for
this store. The rest came from the money Wavves made off merch during 2016's
Summer Is Forever II Tour with Best Coast and Cherry Glazerr. “I thought
Ghostramp would be a hobby, doing 7-inches here and there. But now it's a
legiJmate business,” says Williams. “The thing is I'm not just interested in making
music for Wavves. I'm too ADD. Being an entrepreneur, being hands-on isn’t just
smart, it’s necessary. Your art is everything you do, every choice you make. I was
able to build my own thing, own it and control it all 100%. If I want to do
something now I don’t ask anyone. I just fucking do it – that's priceless.”
Nathan Williams never went away, but now he's made sure he's here to stay far
longer. And for that, girls and boys, you're welcome.
Post Animal
Post Animal is a rock & roll band from Chicago.
Venue Information:
Lee's Palace
529 Bloor St. West
Toronto, ON, M5S 1Y5
http://www.leespalace.com/