Music Hall of Williamsburg
Rogue Wave

Rogue Wave

Caveman

Fri, June 21, 2013

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY

$20

This event is 18 and over

Rogue Wave
Rogue Wave
Rogue Wave, Delusions of Grand Fur

Over the decade and a half that Rogue Wave has made music, Zach Rogue has continued to expand his band’s emotional spectrum. Drawing inspiration from the inevitable delusions of everyday American life, Rogue, his longtime bandmate Pat Spurgeon, and their fellow members have returned reinvigorated, and with a fresh sound founded on the art of patience, the fearlessness of experimenting, and the unbridled joy of creating something meaningful to help us navigate through these vacant times. Trusting in its own abilities and leaning on each other, Rogue Wave has seized creative control of its identity and sound and is set to smash any preconceptions of its music, revealing the most truthful, powerful, and urgent sonic blueprint of the band to date.

Taking a longer break in between albums than ever before, Rogue enjoyed his extra time off at home in Oakland with his children. The songwriting process for Rogue Wave’s music is always the same—“me, alone in a room,” as Rogue says—and this time around, he found the most success at home in his bedroom or while driving in his car, even learning to embrace his two-year-old son’s “experimental tunings” on his beloved Taylor guitar. Lyrics, however, did not come as easy, and Rogue only found success with his words when slowing himself down and recognizing that his wild juxtapositions of lyrical themes actually felt right. “I wanted the duality,” he says, “I wanted the thematic conflict. This is a record of things being out of balance and at odds with one another.” Thematically, Rogue Wave’s music has never drifted too far from the subject matter of emotional battles with fear and joy in equal parts.

Choosing to title the record Delusions of Grand Fur, a riff on the tendency of fresh-faced musicians to misperceive the reality of band life, Rogue found himself reflecting on all that he had learned through his time in Rogue Wave, in addition to our need as humans to keep up appearances. “You think the world will be your oyster and the wounds you were running away from when you joined a band will magically go away—you think you can just become someone else or get whatever you want,” he says. “But really, we are all deluded in some way. We need to delude ourselves to deal with the impossibility and difficulty of life. Delusion is what keeps the mythology of America alive. It keeps us from facing our history and our true selves. We don’t want to be deluded. We need it.” And once he had convinced Spurgeon of the sincere intent behind the titular pun, they began the recording process.

In a sense a return to their recording roots, Rogue and Spurgeon decided to work without a producer, instead recording and producing themselves at their home studio in Oakland. Calling to mind the band’s debut, 2003’s Out of the Shadow, a project completed entirely by Rogue and a single engineer, the band also decided to work without recording demo versions of songs—instead, the demos would simply become the songs. Setting up shop amongst their large collection of well-loved gear at the place they felt most comfortable, the band was free to experiment at will—rarely would they rehearse a song as a band first, instead choosing to tinker and jump off the deep end as Rogue and Spurgeon desired, blessing the process with what seemed like a natural evolution. At times, bassist Mark Masanori Christianson and the band’s new guitar player Jon Monohan would come by to throw in some ideas. But by and large the architects remained Rogue and Spurgeon, resulting in a revelatory experience and so many songs the band could have potentially released a double album. The process taught them to trust their instincts while embracing the fleeting energy of an imaginative spark.

“It was really nice working at our own pace,” says Rogue. “We wanted to just go with our own instincts and trust ourselves. Pat really blossomed as an engineer during this record. His curiosity in the studio is just endless. There are no rules. And that’s why I’ve always been so comfortable bringing song ideas to him, because he is so open.” Spurgeon played all the drums on the record, as well as a bit of everything else. In Rogue’s words, even Spurgeon’s experiments became instruments all of their own, and despite the modest environment and DIY approach, the end result is a clearer snapshot of who Rogue Wave is today.

“In a way, it could be argued that we chose the most regressive step by tracking our record in such a comparatively low fidelity environment,” says Rogue. “But for the music itself, it is the trajectory I’ve always wanted for this band. It’s the sound of who we actually are, for better or for worse.”

Echoing that sentiment, Delusions of Grand Fur opens on a confident tone with the upbeat and personal “Take It Slow,” a song inspired by a mantra of patience. The energy takes off on the next track, “In the Morning,” which was given its gyrating, infectious pulse by the deft hands of its mixer, Chris Walla. And the bright clip of “California Bride,” perhaps the tone that will prove most familiar to longtime fans, is a meditation on the beauty and fortune of being alive. “Do you even know how lucky you are?” says Rogue of the song. “You got to live in California and feel the sand in your toes and grab what you wanted from life.”

But when the dark indie pop of lead single “What Is Left To Solve” opens the second half of the album with electronic flourishes, it’s clear that a new, exciting direction is being heralded. Originally written on guitar, the duo was inspired to deconstruct the song by listening to electronic music by Kraftwerk and Grimes. “The synth bass line is meant to represent the futility of thinking you will get a different result when you try to change someone else,” says Rogue. “We are slowly but surely replacing human interaction with digital interaction.”

Continuing the fresh foray, “Frozen Lake” is an interpersonal breakup song that evokes sounds of the ’80s, the present, and the future all at once, while the jangly, psychedelic “Ocean” is an instant smash about breaking up, and how getting stabbed in the back can leave you feeling infinitesimally small. When Mike Deni of Geographer lends his soaring voice to the track’s bridge, the tune rises to the rafters. By the time the album reaches its close with the slow-burning, achingly lush “Memento Mori,” it’s clear that Delusions of Grand Fur is a masterstroke by a band that knows who it is and has continued to evolve. Rogue Wave has released a work that serves as a culmination of all it has learned and that trusts itself over all else to deliver that message with a supreme urgency.

“Overall, I think we have grown more comfortable in our own skin,” say Rogue. “We had total control; we were on our own little island and made the record entirely for our own amusement. As a result, there are some pretty experimental tendencies. It is pretty immersive. There are some very emotional moments. But my relationship with Pat continues to grow. In many ways, I feel like we are just starting to figure out how we like to record music. This record was the most challenging album we’ve ever worked on, but it never felt like a slog. When we are working on songs together, it just never feels old.”
Caveman
Caveman
You can only go so far on cool points alone. Since Caveman first formed in 2010 they’ve claimed a spot for themselves at the center of the New York music scene, become in-demand DJs, toured the world (sharing stages with The War on Drugs Jeff Tweedy, and Weezer), and gotten love from everyone from Pitchfork to the New York Times. Now the band–Matthew Iwanusa, lead guitarist James Carbonetti, bassist Jeff Berrall, keyboardist Sam Hopkins and multi-instrumentalist Matthew Prescott Clark–is aiming higher.

Caveman is done being an indie rock band playing for indie rock fans alone. They have their sights set on bigger goals, so on their third time around they made their biggest-sounding album yet.

Otero War was created over the course of three years, completely inverting the ramshackle methods used to make 2011’s CoCo Beware and their 2013 self-titled LP. This time frontman Matthew Iwanusa has taken the wheel of the creative process, bringing to it a level of patience, precision, and quality that exceeds anything he’s ever done before. Iwanusa wrote most of these songs in the back of tour vans with a laptop and a portable keyboard, then spent years rewriting, examining every part to make sure it was exactly right, and eventually abandoning an album’s worth of insufficiently killer songs before hitting the studio with the band. There the group refined the songs even further, filling them out with arrangements that bring together their distinctive musical personalities into one united whole, showing off the seemingly effortless collaborative energy that only comes with years of hard work.

It was more work, but worth it. The result is a whole new Caveman: The songs are stronger and more spacious, with carefully constructed melodies and a more judicious use of folksy four-part harmonies and washes of synthesizer pads, leaving more room for Iwanusa’s instantly memorable vocal parts. Iwanusa’s lyrics have also evolved from vaguely sketching a typical twenty-something’s romantic frustrations to examining larger, more broadly existential matters, like figuring out your place in the world.

While Iwanusa’s stepped further out front as a songwriter, arranger, and singer, Otero War is still a group effort made with contributions from the band’s entire unofficial extended family. Albert Di Fiore, who engineered their last album, returns with an expanded role to produce. Iwanusa’s father contributes string arrangements. Longtime friend and New York punk-scene legend Johnny T, who over the years has employed members as bartenders and DJ’s at his bars, helped the band get signed as the first rock act on Cinematic Music Group, home to rappers Joey Bada$$, G Herbo and Cam’ron.

Otero War is clearly the most mature album the band has created, but that doesn’t mean it’s a drag–in fact it could be the most fun music they’ve made so far. Iwanusa’s singular vision of blending Springsteen and Wilco’s polished roots rock with the soaring emotional drama of Tears for Fears and the Human League has never seemed clearer, or stronger. From the buoyant vocal melodies that make the opening track “Never Going Back” take flight, to the hip-shaking rhythms that hold up “Life Or Just Living” (which Matt calls his best song yet), to the contagious, triumphant mood on standout cut “Lean On You,” the album overflows with the joyous energy of a songwriter and a band finding their stride and flexing their newfound power for the first time. You can hear them enjoying the freedom from the confines of the expectations that have surrounded them until now, and looking out at a much bigger world to conquer.
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11249
http://www.musichallofwilliamsburg.com/