Wavves is a noise pop/sunshine punk band whose profile has been on the rise over the past few years with their awesome 2010 album, King of the Beach, 2011’s Life Sux EP featuring the song “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl” and now their new album, Afraid of Heights.
It must be mentioned that Wavves has also made headlines for frontman Nathan William’s chemical-induced onstage breakdown at the 2009 Barcelona Primavera Sound festival, and for bass player Stephen Pope getting kicked out of the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards for pot possession.
Pope spoke to me early (by rock musician standards) one morning in February about the upcoming Wavves concert at Velvet Jones this Saturday. Tickets are available from New Noise by clicking here. Click here for the full interview, including more thoughts on Wavves and Jay Reatard.
Jeff Moehlis: What can we look forward to at the show in Santa Barbara?
Stephen Pope: Jeez [laughs]. Well, we’ve actually been practicing. You know, we usually practice a couple times before tour, but for some reason we decided that we might actually start practicing like a month before, so we’re actually good. Hopefully people can expect some at least somewhat competent playing of our material, instead of just total s*** show.
JM: You guys played in Santa Barbara back in August 2010, which I thought was a great show. I don’t know if you remember the show or not, but did you get a good vibe from your previous visit to town?
SP: What was the venue?
JM: It was called SOhO.
SP: Oh yeah!
JM: What I remember about it, there was a point where your bass came unplugged and you jumped into the mosh pit. Probably that happens every night for you. And some drunk guy grabbed the microphone and sang a little bit.
SP: Yeah, that happens pretty often. And I usually just pretend like my bass comes unplugged when I forget how to play the song. But yeah, I remember that show.
JM: I understand that you have a new album coming out. Can you tell me a little bit about the new album?
SP: It’s called Afraid of Heights. We spent the entire last year recording it. We actually spent a little over a year in the studio. We recorded with this guy named John Hill, who usually does, like, pop stuff. He produced a few Rihanna songs, and he works with Santigold. But Nathan was writing songs with him, just writing songs for other people a few years ago. And they kind of fell in love with each other. I don’t know, I think John was kind of looking to record a rock album, and he was willing to take Wavves on. Not record us for free, but we didn’t have a label in the beginning, and we wanted to stay without a label until we finished recording.
So John, even though he’s like an expensive producer, was willing to take an entire year and record us, like pro bono, so we could get the album like we actually wanted. And then we started shopping it around to labels, and then he got paid. But it was cool for him to go in there without the security of knowing that you’re going to make money.
JM: John seems like a curious choice. Did he pull you guys more in the pop direction, or did you pull him more into noise pop, or — I don’t know what you call Wavves — sunshine punk?
SP: I feel like we actually were headed more in the pop direction than John wanted to be. I think maybe John wanted to stray away from pop. I don’t know, it worked out. We wanted to work with John just because he is the best I’ve ever seen at getting sounds that he wants. Like if he hears something on the radio or just from an old record, he can reproduce that sound pretty well. That’s why we spend so long in the studio, trying to get a specific sound that we wanted for each song.
JM: I have to ask, did you guys ever get to meet Dave Grohl?
SP: No [laughs]. I guess we never will.
JM: What are your sober reflections on the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards?
SP: I mean, I was drunk, but I wasn’t like blacked out drunk. So I remember what happened. Nathan and I were both invited to the awards because we were doing the soundtrack for a show that was on there called “I Just Want My Pants Back.” I think it got canceled after a few episodes. But, yeah, we got invited, and we had never done anything like that before. So we weren’t sure if there were going to be drinks there, or what we should do. So we decided to try to sneak in champagne, and lots of weed, too, because we wanted to be able to smoke weed during the breaks.
And, I guess, there were two stages of security. There was LAPD security first, and then there was MTV security. We got in there right at the beginning, but before the show started we decided to come back out to smoke a blunt. When I tried to get back in I guess they noticed the like three bottles of champagne I had sticking out of my pocket, so the LAPD started searching me. And I had like an ounce of weed on me, and I didn’t have my medical card at the time, and I also had all the champagne, and I was drunk, and I guess, I think, a little belligerent.
So they flay me up against the wall, took all my weed, and then they threw me in this ... it was like an LAPD porta-potty. I guess it was the drunk tank. I’m not really quite sure. But they kept me in there for like an hour, and then ripped up my MTV ticket, and then once I sobered up a little bit they made me call a cab and go home. And it was bulls***.
And Nathan ... they put this really hot girl as a seat filler. I guess they do that at the awards show. He was sitting in front of Metta World Peace, and I guess he spilled his drink on him and got in a little altercation with Metta World Peace, and so on. So I’m pretty bummed that I missed all that [laughs].
— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.