Noisey Blog

Wavves are Fucking Stoned and Paranoid

Interviews

By Cam Lindsay

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Nathan Williams and Stephen Pope were probably stoned when I called them late in the afternoon. I imagine they’re stoned all the time. They were the last time I met them… or at least looking to get stoned. It’s part of who they are as the two notoriously juvenile, famously fun clown princes in Wavves, who so far have made four albums of awesomely fuzz-marinated surf-punk. Their latest is called Afraid of Heights, even though principle songwriter Williams isn’t actually afraid of anything, he says. Though he is pretty fucking paranoid these days, as the press release states. Maybe it’s because a cop-killing ex-cop was on the loose in his city while we did this interview. Or maybe it’s because Pope would eat his celebrity cat Snacks for the right price. Or maybe it’s just because he smokes too much weed and his brain is “the consistency of pudding.” Meet indie rock’s equivalent of Donnie Darko and Frank the Bunny.

Noisey: What for you are the biggest differences between the new album and the previous Wavves LPs?
STEPHEN POPE:
We got to spend a lot more time on this one.
NATHAN WILIAMS:Yeah, the timeframe and we didn't have any label involvement. We paid for it with our own money, so we got to make exactly what we wanted to make with the people we wanted to make it with. So, the biggest difference was not having any around that only thinks about money.

So, I guess that's how you felt about Fat Possum?
NW:
To an extent. I think anybody dealing with any label is going to feel like that. And that's not a shot at any label, but their bottom line: money.
SP:It's annoying having someone who is not making the music come in and listen and then judge you.
NW:It's counterproductive.

Is there any concern about making an album in label limbo? Would you have released the album on your own?
NW:
We weren't looking for a record label while we were making it, but we knew we would shop it once we were done. We just didn't want them involved in the creative process.
SP:If no label had picked it up we would have put it out ourselves. But that would have been a bummer.

Was "Cop" at all inspired by Bodycount?
NW:
[Laughs] Yeah, "Cop Killa!" I'm a big Ice-T fan.
SP:Whenever I see a cop, that song goes through my head.
NW:Do you think that guy who’s on the loose [Christopher Dorner] was thinking that? Do you know about that in Canada?

Oh yeah. What a shitshow.
NW:
The cops opened fire on two random blue trucks because somebody tipped them that he was driving a blue truck.
SP:They just started shooting blue trucks everywhere!
NW:These are the people that protect us.

You also have a song called "I Can't Dream." What was the last dream you can remember?
NW:
I really can't dream. I don't have them.
SP:I have a recurring dream where I have a pet chimpanzee who I've become friends with, but it really hates me and it keeps hitting me. But I'm still affectionate and trying to make it like me-
NW:Is that like a monkey on your back?
SP:It might be. And it's really strong, so it hurts when it hits me.
NW:People have told me before that I act like a monkey.
SP:I had this dream before I knew you. I've been having this dream for years.
NW:Maybe it was pre-destined. Maybe the monkey in your subconscious was telling you that you were going to meet me.

I feel like we're getting somewhere with this.
SP:
Yeah, we should probably schedule a few more of these sessions.

The album's called Afraid of Heights. Are you afraid of heights?
NW:
No.
SP:I am. I didn't use to be, but in the past two or three years (burp) I've become scared of everything.

Nathan, you've spoken about being paranoid recently. Is that not a product of fear?
NW:
Yeah, I'm definitely-
SP:He's all Donnie Darko! (laughs)

Do you consider this a darker record?
NW:
Yeah, it's definitely darker. None of the records have been particularly bright, even though they may have sounded that way. I think this one is… I dunno, do you think it's darker?
SP:Yeah. I mean your lyrical content has never been happy, but this one is straight-up dark [laughs].
NW:It's not like I've been holding a gun up to my head, but it ended up being darker.

"Dog" is said to be about a relationship. How exactly?
NW:
"Dog" is about just no matter what someone would do to you when you're in love, that you'd feel like a dog. You'd always be with them regardless.

What is your cat Snacks up to these days? He's so popular. Does that ever get weird?
NW:
No, it's great! He loves the attention. He's a Hollywood cat. He's gonna move out and get his own duplex soon, when he's raking in the dough.
SP:Would you ever want him to do a cat food commercial?
NW:I'd love for him to do a cat food commercial, but he's-
SP:I wouldn't let mine.
NW:Why not?
SP:Sell out.

Have you ever been approached with an endorsement deal for Snacks?
NW:
No, but I'd do it. I'd sell his body parts for money.
SP:If I wanted to eat him and offered you $10,000 would you sell him?
NW:Ten grand? No.
SP:A hundred grand?
NW:A hundred grand to eat my cat? Sure! If you had a hundred grand and wanted to eat my cat I'd be fine with that.
SP:It'd take me about 30 years to eat him though.
NW:And he'll be dead by then, so you can just eat him and I'll keep the money! It's a win-win situation. Snacks is a weird cat anyway.
SP:He'd want me to eat him.
NW:Yeah, he'd want Stephen to eat him if he was already dead.

You're taking FIDLAR on tour with you. They also seem to love recreational substances.
SP:
They're all straight edge [laughs].

They sing about "Cheap Beer." Can they handle their beer better than you guys?
SP:
I'm gonna say no. It's not a challenge.
NW:Yeah, alcoholism is not a reward.

What about weed? They also have a song called "Chinese Weed." Do they smoke as much as you guys?
SP:
Probably not. And that's another thing that isn't cool.
NW:My brain is the consistency of pudding.

Because of all the alcohol and weed?
NW:
No, because I pour pudding through my skull into my head! [Laughs] What's that called? Self-trepidation? Self-trepanation. It's when you drill a hole into your skull to let your brain breathe. It was an early procedure for brain surgery.

Speaking of weed, not so much drilling holes in skull. How awesome was it recording with Jenny Lewis? I love her. I read that she brought you weed cookies?
SP:
We first met her a while ago, and played a few shows with her. What I said in that interview was that she brought us weed in Philadelphia. And then in the studio she brought us these great cookies, sea salt and chocolate chip. And then we combined it with the weed.
NW:She's very soft-spoken and nice and cute.
SP:And The Wizard is an awesome movie.

Yeah! Was that the Power Glove they introduced in that movie?
SP:
The Power Glove and Super Mario 3.

You also did a Big Boi collabo. Did you get to hang out? Make any hip-hop connections?
SP:
We hung out with his producer.

Were you happy with the song and how it turned out?
NW:
Well… originally I had written the song and I was just a writer for it. I was giving it to Big Boi for his album. They were supposed to take my demo vocal out and replace it with a kids choir they had recorded. And I guess last minute they just took the kids choir out and put my voice on it. We never knew it was going to be my voice and it was going to be Wavves. So we were a little blindsided by that. But yeah, it was so cool that we were on a Big Boi album.

 

Cam Lindsay is on Twitter - @yasdnilmac

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