Published Mar 17, 2009In only a year, San Diego's Nathan Williams has gone from an unknown messing around with his Tascam in his parents' garage to a DIY sensation fawned over by both the indie and mainstream press. But a mere four months after releasing his self-titled debut, Williams returns with album number two, the confusingly titled Wavvves. A slightly more coherent second chapter, Wavves again brings the ruckus with lo-fi jams about demons, goths and the California sun, not to mention more of that nostalgic, vintage skateboarding photography. Peppered with baked noise experiments that flow like congruent interludes, the bulk of Wavvves concentrates on hammering out uncomplicated and immediate hooks overwhelmed by a storm of fuzz and phantom reverb. Paying respect to state ancestors like the Surfaris and the Beach Boys, he mostly shares lineage with the meagre production din of Times New Viking and Blank Dogs, as well as the fist-pumping anthems of the Wipers, who Williams pays homage to on the cover. The fact that he's now on the blues-ridden Fat Possum does actually make sense, as "So Bored" confronts tedium like a penniless 7-Eleven loiterer, "Beach Goth" surfs pensive distortion and "No Hope Kids" reflects on everything he doesn't have. Behind a fuzzy cloud of distortion, Williams bares his heart, which is just as blown as the amps he's using.
What made you release it on Fat Possum, as opposed to De Stijl?
There were some personal things between De Stijl and me that I was uncomfortable with, so the Fat Possum deal made sense, at the time.
How different is Wavvves now from the version you were set to release on De Stijl? I believe there is a shift in the tracklisting...
It's different by about four or fives songs. To me it's miles different. It's better.
This is the fifth or sixth label to release your music. What is it about using different labels that you enjoy?
I basically just agreed to do records with any label that asked me whom I respected. I'll release my music by myself probably once I'm out of the current contracts I have.
Is it true that you've only been doing Wavves for a year?
Yeah I've only been doing it for a year. February of last year I recorded the first song.
Having been at it for only a year, does all of the attention feel at all overwhelming considering it's fairly sudden?
Yeah, it's really overwhelming. I never expected all the attention.
Were you doing anything else musically before this?
Yeah, I was in another band called Fantastic Magic.
Wavves only came out in November. What made you decide to rush a second album so close to the first one's release?
I recorded this record before the other one. [It was] just press and such that made the record's release date later on. The release of Wavves came first because it just turned out that way.
How important is the lo-fi sound quality to Wavves?
I don't know. I just used what I had. It doesn't mean next time it will be the same or different, I just have to wait and see how I'm feeling and where I'm at when I record the next record. But for now I don't even need to think about it since I am touring for basically the next nine months straight.
If you're touring for nine months, will you hold off on writing and recording more material then? I think the public has this perception of you as a prolific songwriter...
Yeah, I will wait to write. Touring is so tiring and hectic that it would be ridiculous for me to think about that stuff. I mean I can write songs on the road, or at least the bones of the songs, but that's just an idea. It never really turns into anything until I have a chance to record the parts and see where the pieces fit together.
You mix pop songs with experimental-type interludes. Do you try to balance the two types of songwriting or is it just what comes out of you at the time?
It's just what comes out. The more spacey stuff was usually recorded at night because that's just kind of what I veered towards later in the day.
You use skate culture in your imagery. How does it inspire your music? And are you any good?
I'm not really any good. I used to be but I just like to fuck around. It inspires my music the way anything does - it's around me. It's a weird, comforting, nostalgic kind of thing that reminds me of a more simple time, or something.
What is it that you like about releasing your music on cassette?
It's appreciation, but also the car I had before it got impounded only had a cassette player. I like the muddied sound of cassettes; it adds something to the overall feel of it. (Fat Possum)