Fri, Jun 07, 2013 - Page 11 News List

Live Wire: Total Meltdown

By Joe Henley and David Frazier  /  Contributing reporter

I have never been a big fan of British Sea Power, who are not bad but just a rather generic flavor, so let’s skip on to something fresher, saltier and similarly ocean-themed — Wavves. (The two v’s are there, I suspect, so you can find them in an Internet search.) They are a new breed surf punk band by twentysomethings Nathan Williams and Stephen Pope, joined for the moment by drummer Jacob Cooper and extra guitarist Alexander Gates. If you thought surf music was dead, you are probably not alone. But with Florida band Surfer Blood and California’s Best Coast, who are incidentally tight buds with Wavves, a new cohort is forming, and it seems to draw as much from the earnest, hipster vibe of indie rock (think The Stokes) as it does the legacy of classic surf rock or SoCal punk. Wavves sings a lot of straight-ahead three-chord punk, but instead of the vicious, stop-start arrangements and ironic lyrics of ’80s or ’90s punk, they are more boisterous than rebellious, more melodic than jarring. Williams’ lyrics have the honesty of someone puking in the street outside of a nightclub: “I’m so paranoid” (sung over and over) and “I’d say sorry, but it wouldn’t mean shit” are a couple typical examples.

When I asked about what it means to be new-breed surf punk, Bass player Stephen Pope, in an e-mail interview, replied, “I’ve always loved Dick Dale and the Beach Boys, so yes I consider them major influences even though we don’t particularly sound like either. I know Nathan was a huge fan of Agent Orange growing up and still is. We’re both huge fans of classic surf rock and punk and everything, so I guess just growing up listening to all of that rubbed off a little bit on our songwriting.”

The band has two full-length albums so far, and has already found interesting collaborations, including one song that served as the backdrop for rapper Big Boi on his big 2012 album Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. Pope says that while the song’s producer, John Hill, was reworking the demo, “Just by chance I think Big Boi’s producers came by, heard the song, and loved it.”

This is the Wavves second trip to Asia, following a small tour of Japan in 2011, and Pope is pretty jazzed about it. “I can’t wait to be back,” he says.

■ Hostess Club Taipei, with British Sea Power, Mum and Wavves, takes place at 8pm, Tue, June 11 at Legacy, 1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段一號). Tickets are NT$1,800 or NT$1,600 in advance through www.books.com.tw

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