In anticipation for their first concert in Hong Kong, we met up with San Diego's surf rock band Wavves. The trio has garnered critical acclaim with their recently released fourth studio Afraid of Heights. The album is not only a display of more "honest" sound, due to their collaborative efforts with producer John Hill – who has previously worked with M.I.A., Santigold and Rihanna – but also the band's first release after parting ways with their their original label Fat Possum. Enough reasons for us to sit down with frontman Nathan Williams during their visit to Hong Kong and discuss their most recent effort, new label situation and more.
You guys have been touring a lot as of late, how do you cope with touring/being on the road?
I enjoy touring a lot. Sometimes too much can wear on you though. It is a love-hate type of relationship really. Usually after a few weeks on the road I want to be home, and after a few days at home I want to be on the road. As we all know, the grass on the other hill is always greener.
Is this your first time in Hong Kong? How do you find it?
We've never been to Hong Kong before, so performing in this vibrant city is a big deal for us obviously. The only places in Asia we've been to prior to coming here are Osaka and Tokyo. Needless to say that I enjoy experiencing Hong Kong and other places in Asia.
Your album, Afraid of Heights, has been out for a couple of months now. How do you evaluate its reception by the public so far?
I think it's been well-received as far as I can tell. We just did a six-week U.S. tour and every show was sold out. People were already singing along to songs from the new album so I think that's a good sign. I like playing the new songs the most too.
You worked with John Hill on the record. How was the experience working with him and what made you think he would be a good fit to your sound?
Nathan had worked with John Hill writing songs for other people before, so they already had a good working relationship with each other. John was willing to give up an entire year of his time to help us make this record and he's unbelievable at finding good sounds, so it was a great experience.
Afraid of Heights was completely self-financed. How did this come about?
We wanted to record the record without any interference from labels, so we worked out a deal with John where we could record the entire thing first, then shop it around to labels. This gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted and take as much time as we though necessary. I think it really helped the creative process on this record.
How did self-financing your album affect your creativity while working on the album, compared to your work on your previous releases?
When you don't have anyone to answer to it takes a huge amount of pressure off. We were able to have fun and take our time making a good record without having labels breathing down our necks asking when we're going to be done.
What made you part ways with Fat Possum? And what made you choose Mom + Pop?
It wasn't anything dramatic really. The contract with Fat Possum was up and there was no fallout or anything like that. We're still friends with the people there so it's all good. We chose Mom + Pop because they seemed like the best fit for this record and they offered the best deal.
Are you already working on material for a new album?
Not at the moment to be honest. There are no definite plans for the next album as of yet. It can happen whenever at this point. Whenever we feel ready for it. We are not bound to release schedule so Nathan and I are both always writing or storing away ideas for songs.
Are you exploring new sounds on your next release?
Although we haven't really started to work on new material, we usually try to do a little something different.
What has been your biggest lesson in the music industry so far?
There's not money in it unless you're willing to work. And most of the time everybody will try and take advantage of you. Yet again, that's the way any other job in life is so you might as well try to do something that you can have fun with and are passionate about.
What is the most important thing for emerging record artists to do in order to survive in this tough industry?
You have to be willing to try. If you really want to do something with music and something like school is taking up your time, quit school and concentrate on music. You can always go back to school but you may not always have the creative energy you do now.
Afraid of Heights is available now via Mom + Pop Music.
Special thanks to Your Mum.