Surf's Up: Wavves Goes to a Brighter Place on Its New Album

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Don't let the catchy melodies fool you — Wavves is anything but happy. Well, the California band is happier now than it has been since it began juicing — kind of.

"I mean a little bit — I have a blender," says Wavves bassist Stephen Pope about his NutriBullet. "I get some chia seeds for some fiber and healthy fats."

Before adopting a healthier lifestyle, Wavves' previous studio album, Afraid of Heights, was darker than its previous full-lengths.


Wavves is scheduled to perform Wednesday, September 16, at Crescent Ballroom.

"Maybe we were just worn down, but I feel like we were both in darker places than where we are now," he says. "That entire time, we were drinking too much and not being productive."

Afraid of Heights took more than a year of studio time to complete.

"We weren't necessarily in bad moods, but we weren't hyper and excited. We were just kind of doing it," Pope says. "I think maybe you can hear that on the songs. I'm proud of Afraid of Heights, but I think you can tell it's a much more depressing album than the one that's coming out now."

Having not released new music for two years, 2015 is an aggressive year for the band. It's on tour, released a collaboration album with Cloud Nothings called No Life for Me, and is set to release V in October.

No Life For Me is a bit more emo than Wavves' defining sunny sound. Bipolar verses and choruses accompanied by nasally voice are reminiscent of pop-punk from the early 2000s, while the distorted, muffled production style adds attitude.

"A lot of the darker stuff is probably Dylan's [Baldi, of Cloud Nothings] influence," Pope says.

Wavves toured with the Cloud Nothings years before the collaboration, which came from boredom and a text message conversation between Wavves frontman Nathan Williams and Baldi, singer/guitarist for Cloud Nothings.

No Life For Me allowed both Pope and Williams to step outside the boundaries of Wavves. "Such a Drag" is a track on No Life For Me that started as a "Wavves thing," but something didn't turn out "quite right about it," Pope says.

As for the upcoming Wavves album, four singles already have leaked: "My Head Hurts," "Flamezesz," "Way Too Much," and "Heavy Metal Detox."

So far, V's tracks revert to the more upbeat style of previous albums, though its lyrics are laced with melancholia.

"They sound like happy songs, but you listen to the lyrics and realize they're not too happy," Pope says.

All four Wavves members "collaborated a lot more on this one" than previous albums, he says. The band wrote every song together. "We all contributed different parts and either got together and wrote the songs together, or recorded a verse on our phones and sent it to each other."

Excited to be touring again, Pope says he would appreciate it if people would drop the surf-rock label.

"I don't think [the music] really had a lot of surf in it for a while. I know that's the association, I think, since Nathan is from San Diego and band's name is Wavves . . . I guess there's some surf elements here and there on some of the older stuff."

Pope refers to the music as alternative rock in its broadest definition and says the new album is more pop-punk and almost power-pop, whereas Afraid of Heights was almost grunge with the undertone of a depressed teenager in the '90s.

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