Interview with Wavves: Begotten, Not Made

California-based indie rock band Wavves have just released their anticipated full-length, Afraid Of Heights. They’re currently singed to Mom + Pop Music, with this CD as their fourth so far. The album has been well-received, much like its predecessor, King Of The Beach.

Wavves have just come off several strong performances at SXSW, and other music festivals are on the horizon for the summer. On the latest work, the guys utilize elements derived from their surf pop and punk-littered stomping grounds on the West Coast. They recently debuted a music video for the title-track as well. Amidst a nationwide tour with several sold-out shows, bassist Stephen Pope took time out to speak with me just before the record dropped. The conversation is below:

Afraid Of Heights is scheduled to be released in a matter of days. What can listeners expect out of this record?

I don’t know what they can expect out of it, but we’ve put a lot of time into it. We’ve spent over a year recording it. I don’t think any of us have ever spent that much time doing anything. I think we’re all pretty proud of it. Hopefully, people will see the effort we put into it.

What lies ahead on the road for the band?

Yeah, we’re going to be touring constantly. We’re actually going to Asia, which I’m really excited about. We’re playing like, Hong Kong and South Korea, Taiwan. That will be a great experience. I think we’ll probably all get arrested. I mean, if you like spit on the ground, you’ll get arrested. And I just drool constantly, so I can’t help but spit on the ground.

How was your recent SXSW experience?

SXSW was probably the best one, this year. I usually kind of dread it, but it wasn’t bad. It went by pretty easily. Played a lot of video games. It was like a little vacation—no it wasn’t—but it was fun.

Why do you usually dread it?

It’s usually a lot of work and it’s really hard to get around. None of the promoters ever have beer or answers to your questions. It’s usually really stressful and then you end up playing to a bunch of people who don’t know who you are that are there for not the coolest reasons, a lot of industry people. All the shows this year actually ended up being pretty good. It was a good one.

Do you plan on playing or attending any festivals over the summer?

Uhm, I think so? You mean like in the U.S.? I don’t know, probably. I mean, we’re going to keep touring. I don’t really know our itinerary. I know we go to Asia in June and that’s about it.

I saw that singer/guitarist Nathan Williams recently collaborated with Nike for a custom Wavves shoe.

Nathan and I go to this… basically like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, but with Nikes. You go in all of these oddly shaped rooms, like you go in a huge, solid white room—that sounds really bizarre—and they give you free Nikes for fun. I don’t know how that came together. I think we’re friends with a guy there. I got to make a pair of Nikes, too. I was trying to make Wavves, but I did low tops and I could only do five letters on each one. So it was W-A-V-V-E on the left and S on the right. Pretty artsy.

How has being a California-based band affected your musical style?

Nathan’s the only one really from San Diego, but there’s a particular sound that a lot of bands from Southern California have, just like in the way they talk or sing. I can definitely hear that come through. I’m from Memphis, but we’re all out in L.A. now.

Does the local music inspire what you’re doing?

It does, but it doesn’t really in the way you think it would. King Of The Beach, people say that’s a sunny, summer album, but we recorded that in the ice and snow in Mississippi in February of 2010. In this one, Afraid Of Heights, people are saying it’s a darker record, but we were in L.A. the whole time. I don’t know. Your environment does influence you. It’s just not in the way you’d expected.

How does songwriting work for you guys?

Nathan and I send demos back and forth to each other. Nathan writes most of the stuff; he’ll send me demos that he does on his phone on GarageBand. We’ll tinker around with it. Some of the songs we just wrote in the studio in a day. Some songs are demos from five years ago. It just kind of varies.

What is the makeup of the track “Demon To Lean On?”

I don’t know, Nathan wrote that one. I don’t know the real story behind it. It’s probably about his dad. I think, that’s my interpretation. He sent me a demo of that two years ago. We didn’t really change anything from the demo. We just built it up in the studio.

If you could change something about the music industry today, would you? And if so, what would it be?

Probably, there’s a lot of shady deals in the music industry. I’ve never thought that the 360 deal was ever very fair to artists, like where the artists have to sign over publishing and merchandise and stuff. It is hard to make money in music. I don’t know.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming musicians?

If you’re really into it, do it while you can because sometimes you will be in a creative streak and you should utilize that streak. Do as much as you can. If you have to drop out of school, do it. Just work on your art while you’re still inspired.

Wavves have two tour stops in Brooklyn, with the first at the Glasslands Gallery on April 11 and the second at Shea Stadium on April 12. Their new album, Afraid Of Heights, is available now. For more information, go to