Category: Wavves

Andrew W.K. parties with bloody-nose birthday cake at the Echoplex

Andrew WK

How appropriate that a night of violent headbanging would culminate with Andrew W.K. clutching an edible version of his bloody-nosed noggin above the crowd at the Echoplex. Staring up at the stage from the heated mass of bodies and spilled booze, fans howled as the lord of piano-rock party anthems hoisted up a freakishly detailed birthday cake shaped like his face as if it were a ritual sacrifice. Clawing photographers and rocketing stage divers swamped him on all sides like a Greek chorus.

In the closing moments of the monthly Check Yo Ponytail 2, hosted by L.A.label I Heart Comix, the 32-year-old (born Andrew Wilkes-Krier) proudly took the role of Bacchus in a dirty white T-shirt and jeans. Plans to perform a solo show with only a keyboard and backing tracks were dashed by revelers who ran up on stage to hug, tackle and fondle the one-man band. You might just say they were genuinely glad to see him on his special day.

Most fans had spent the entire night priming themselves for ear-splitting ecstasy, withstanding sets by Sacramento hardcore outfit Trash Talk and the emphatic noise pop of Wavves. Starting around 10:30 p.m., the first wail of chaotic chords indicated that fist-pumping or even leaping from the top of the stage scaffolding were encouraged.

It was a sentiment that W.K. was happy to cultivate further as the crowd swelled for his midnight performance. As the stage darkened and ominous organ music signaled the headliner's entrance, leather-clad show goers doused their cigarettes on the front patio and put down their smartphones to join the sweaty legion of W.K. disciples. One group of enthusiastic female fans even showed up to the gig with fake blood streaming down their noses in an homage to the cover of W.K.'s 2001 debut album, "I Get Wet." 

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The Pop & Hiss interview, Part 2: Nathan Williams of Wavves and Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino

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Pop & Hiss published Part One of a conversation among L.A. singer Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, Nathan Williams of Wavves (who's Cosentino's boyfriend), and writer Matt Diehl last week, but the interaction was a little too long to digest all at once -- and we even edited some of it out. Still, it was an entertaining, pull-no-punches roundtable totally worthy of publication, so what follows is the conclusion. The pair are in the midst of their first-ever duel-headlining tour, which arrives in Tallahassee, Fla., Thursday before venturing up the Eastern Seaboard:  

1/27, Tallahassee, Fla. (Club Downunder)
1/28, Athens, Ga. (40 Watt Club)
1/29, Carrboro, N.C. (Cat's Cradle)
1/31, Washington (9:30 Club)
2/1, Philadelphia (Starlight Ballroom)
2/2, New York (Webster Hall)
2/3, Brooklyn (Music Hall of Williamsburg)

For a full list of the tour, check here. The pair arrives at the Music Box on Feb. 24. (Note: the freewheeling conversation contained a certain amount of cussing, some words of which we've excised from our relatively family-friendly blog.)

Matt Diehl/Los Angeles Times: Last year, you both controversially dissed Katy Perry (“Oh I hate Katy Perry so much, you do not represent California Girls, ...,” Bethany posted on Best Coast’s Twitter). Why the hate?

Bethany Cosentino: We’re not into Katy Perry. I admit that she has good songs; I just don’t like her — I don’t like that whole kitsch thing. But she takes her cat on tour, which is cool.

Nathan Williams: I like “California Girls” — that song is great. I just don’t like that she’s like “I’m a weird girl” when she looks like a model. I love Lady Gaga, however.

LAT: Bethany, are you fan of Bruce Springsteen? I noticed the drum fill that opens [the Best Coast song] “Boyfriend” is the same as the one from Springsteen’s “Badlands”…

NW: I love Bruce Springsteen. When I was first listening to the rough mixes from the album, I was like, “Wait — this is ‘Badlands’!” But Bob [Bruno, Cosentino’s musical partner in Best Coast] had never heard that song before. I pointed it out to him, and he was like, “Oh my God, that’s really weird.”

LAT: A couple of years ago, Wavves was all over the Internet due to a beef and physical fight with members of the band Black Lips. What was that about?

BC: Well, when you’re in a band that’s existed for a long time and you get some amount of success, and then someone else comes around who’s only been around for a year gets bigger than you… It ... people off.

NW: Situations like that do nothing but help you.

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On eve of co-headlining tour, a double interview with Wavves' Nathan Williams and Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino (Part One)

Wavves
If the 2000s have an indie power couple à la Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, then it has to be Bethany Cosentino and Nathan Williams.  Cosentino is the charismatic singer-songwriter behind L.A.’s Best Coast, whose "Crazy for You" album isn’t just one of last year’s most acclaimed albums, it also proved a commercial success, entering the charts in the top 40; Williams, meanwhile, is the iconoclastic leader of sublime San Diego-bred noise-pop concern Wavves, whose 2010 "King of the Beach" also proved an indie smash, receiving a “Best New Music” rating from Pitchfork.

As followers of their notoriously oversharing Twitter feeds already know, Cosentino and Williams have many things in common: love for cats, Brian Wilson songs, skateboards, baseball hats, Lil Wayne, reverb, their home state of California, surf punk, television and smoking pot among them. But although they share a bed, they have yet to share a stage until now: Friday marks the launch of Best Coast and Wavves’ first ever co-headlining tour (kicking off at Soma in San Diego). In honor of the occasion, the couple recently sat down for their first joint interview — and if their show is as gloriously unhinged, irreverent and funny as the pair is in person, it should prove to be a can’t-miss event. (Note: the freewheeling conversation contained a certain amount of cussing, some words of which we've excised from our relatively family-friendly blog.)

-- Matt Diehl

L.A. Times: So is this your first joint interview?

Nathan Williams:  Yeah. Well, we’ve done interviews…

Bethany Cosentino: With joints!

NW: I actually pre-jointed.

BC: Yeah, he did — puffed an inhaler, then took a hit of the bong.

NW: We’ve done interviews in the same house next to each other.

BC:  We hear each other do interviews a lot.

NW: I can probably answer her questions, and she can answer mine.

LAT: Why are you finally going on tour together?

BC: We’ll get to hang out more. And we like each other’s music. Well, I like his music. If his record [was bad], I may not have had sex with him.

LAT: The satirical blog Hipster Runoff seems to really have it in for you—it seems to have made a cottage industry making fun of your Twitter conversations back and forth. How do you feel about that?

NW: Really, Twitter is our only way of talking when we’re on the road, 'cause we don’t have Facebook.

BC: I don’t give a ... about that guy. I did laugh when Hipster Runoff said “Pitchfork Gives Best Coast Same Score As Wavves To Avoid Relationship Conflict,” but I just don’t need to read it. 

NW: I’m pro “Hipster Runoff”—I think it’s funny. In the end, it just makes both of us bigger and bigger. He can say whatever he wants: It just breeds hate, but it’s always helpful. Anybody that says they hate it probably loves it. That’s just what the Internet is.
 

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FYF Fest: The must-see acts and the maybes, an hour-by-hour guide

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The FYF Fest marks the unofficial close of the outdoor rock 'n' roll festival season in Southern California, bringing it to an end with dissonant guitars, vocal yelps, disaffected beach-bum punks and even a song or two inspired by the Civil War. Thirty bands and three stages, the all-day affair at the L.A. State Historic Park falls somewhere between a neighborhood block party and Chicago's Pitchfork Music Festival, taking a smaller, more targeted approach to the multi-act bill.

Plenty of it is adventurous, and some of it is even a bit tuneless. Yet the celebration of the underground, the niche and the weird is also a bargain. Tickets started at $20 for early-bird buyers, and in the days leading up to the fest, now in its second year in Chinatown, have risen only to $30. 

Rare, indeed, is an affordable all-day fest that is as pridefully left-of-center as FYF. With a bill built for discovery -- as well as one that contains plenty of local heroes -- Pop & Hiss breaks down the must-see-acts and those you may want to investigate, time permitting. The hour-by-hour guide is below.

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Anthems for the slackers: Wavves celebrates the 'stupid' at Chinatown house party

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"Our stupid CD came out today. Big deal." And thus  singer-songwriter-frontman Nathan Williams begins a Wavves concert, where slacker boredom isn't so much channeled or championed as it is played to an almost ironic caricature. Feedback and distortion make a regular appearance, the word "stupid" is stretched to "stooooooo-pid" multiple times, and between-song banter consists of proudly self-deprecating comments -- or an occasional belch.

It's hard to tell if Williams thinks he's the butt of every joke, or if he's making an elaborate one himself. "This is the most stupid song on our stupid record," Williams said before launching into "King of the Beach," the gloriously scruffy summertime anthem that serves as the title track of Wavves' just-released, critically adored new album

Such put-downs have been a staple of Wavves' gigs, and they appear in almost every piece of music Williams has written. In one new song, Williams declared, "I'm not supposed to be a kid, but I'm an idiot," and in another, he announced that he "hates" his songwriting. But give Williams credit -- he doesn't often give the audience time to shrug and agree. His songs are delivered fast, and every self-doubt slam comes with a hook. Williams may erect a wall of defense from the opening slap of his guitar, but flaws are shared with exuberance. 

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Cinco de Secret Shows: Wavves at Origami Vinyl, Jane's Addiction at Bardot

Wavves “This song is called ‘Facebook’,” Wavves frontman Nathan Williams said before tossing off another volley of scrim-soaked surf punk at Origami Vinyl last night. Like most things concerning Wavves, it was tough to tell if Williams was just having a lark.

But on Cinco de Mayo, Wavves’ endearingly bratty turn was one of two different, goofy and ostensibly secret sets across town, the other being a low-capacity turn at Bardot from Jane’s Addiction, who have become L.A.’s house band for these sorts of things.

At 7 p.m., word had thoroughly spread that Wavves, SoCal’s best test case for making compelling rock music by barely deigning to try in the slightest, was up to something. Having recently commandeered the late Jay Reatard’s rhythm section, Williams is making a noble go at taking his band more seriously than he has in recent months. But his Origami set had a welcome faint hint of that old sense that the whole thing might go off the rails. Microphones shorted, songs half-started, many jokes were made at the expense of drummer Billy Hayes’ bleached emo haircut.

To say Wavves’ debut album “Wavvves” sounds like it was recorded in a trash can wouldn’t do justice to the structural integrity of trash cans, but the strong new tunes he unveiled at Origami peeled off the scuzz in favor of a bit more rhythmic swagger and directness. “King of the Beach,” the title track from his forthcoming record, showed an affection for classic California skate-punk, as run through Williams' typical filter of hooky smarm.  Working with producer Dennis Herring seems to have affected his goals even for his live sets – the new tunes have a clarity that “Wavvves” so self-consciously shunned. Whatever you make of Williams giddily abrasive stage presence, it’s getting harder and harder to say his success was an accident.
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As Wavves, Nathan Williams likes the music messy

The one-man band writes, performs and records his songs with abandon. If it's melody you want, you'll have to work for it.

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Reclining on a sofa outside the modest structure that sits behind his parents' San Diego home, Nathan Williams, the 22-year-old musician who records under the name Wavves, is halfway through a six-pack of late-afternoon beers. Popular indie music scene lore has held that he lives and works out of a pool house, but truth be told, there's no pool.

"It's a shack in the back," he concedes.

Williams has been making music as Wavves for only a little more than a year, recording inside that cramped shack. But he's managed to generate plenty of interest -- partially by posting his songs for free on his Ghost Ramp blog, which he started as an avenue to talk about rap music after quitting his job at a record store.

Among the revitalized lo-fi rock community, Wavves has emerged as a standout for his raw, jittery sound, comprised of guitar, drums and heavy distortion that often masks Williams' vocals, rendering them unintelligible.

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-- Eric Ducker

Photo: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

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