Surf rock poster boys Wavves have scaled tsunami peaks with their latest album titled, ironically enough, Afraid of Heights. Nathan Williams and hi lo-fi luminaries have channelled their youthful nihilism into something surprisingly ambitious and much larger than their back catalogue. While their last three albums have breezed along on sunny poly-harmony and washed-out snappiness, the new album brazenly brings more substance into their tried and trusted arsenal of summertime sucker punches. But make no mistake, Wavves is still about tide after tide of joyous, reckless abandon – just with a bit more thoughtfulness sun tanning atop Williams’ combustible brand of nonchalant fun. Here’s our eager conversation with the exuberant boys after their kinetic set at Zouk alongside múm and local power pop outfit Shelves…
Hi guys! You’ve been crazy busy with tours and collaborations with artistes like Big Boi and F*cked Up, so what are you up to now?
Hey! We’re still crazy busy with touring and recording. Nathan and I actually were just back in the studio working on a few new songs. We just got off a six week US tour and are about to head back out. This year will probably be our busiest year of touring ever.
You’ve said that Afraid of Heights was a more personal, more ‘pure’ album from its very inception. How so?
I think we’ve become more comfortable with writing lyrics, and we had so much time to spend on this album I think we got attached to each song more.
Your lyrics are usually pretty dark or self-deprecating. Do you see your music as an outlet for you to deal with your emotions?
Music is definitely one of many outlets. Performing the songs is a type of outlet too. I guess I’m not too open in my personal life so music along with alcohol helps me get stuff out.
What was the inspiration behind the ‘Afraid of Heights’ video? I mean, Stephen was in a dress and pearls…
Nathan and I wrote that video together… and I’m not really sure what the inspiration was. I think I just wanted an excuse to dress in drag and hang out at a bar.
Some of your other videos kind of poke fun at a couple of issues, like Sail To The Sun was about a priest who led a double life and hired hookers – are there any messages you’d like to get across with your videos?
We’re really not trying to push any serious agendas. There’s tons of corruption in the world, church, politics, whatever. Televangelists I think are the scum of the Earth so why not make fun of them.
What made you want to self-finance Afraid of Heights?
Self-financing Afraid of Heights I think really helped in the creative process. We didn’t have to stress out about meeting any deadlines and we didn’t have labels coming in the studio to check up on us. We were able to create exactly what we wanted to create without any interference from outsiders.
What was it like making this album with no interference from anyone who wasn’t in the band? Was it daunting to have to do everything yourself?
It became a little daunting after a year of recording but overall it was much better to do it ourselves then shop it around to labels only after it was completely done.
You’ve collaborated with Jenny Lewis who contributed to the vocals on ‘Afraid of Heights’. Are there any other artists you guys would like to work with?
There are tons of other artistes I’d love to collaborate with. I really admire Bradford Cox and what he’s done with Deerhunter and Atlas Sound. Collaborating with Weird Al would also be amazing in its own right.
You’ve come a long way since the Primavera incident in 2009, and Nathan’s even bought a house – would you say the boys of Wavves are growing up?
More on the band at wavves.net.