Hi! Congratulations on the release of ‘Lunar’! I thought it was an innervating listen and greatly enjoyed the balance between ‘light and dark’, so to speak. Before we start off, how have you been?
We've been great! We're very busy gearing up for our record release show and on March 25th at Cobra Lounge in our hometown of Chicago. We are beyond excited about the record being released and can't wait for people to hear it.
Would you mind introducing the band to our unknowing readers that might not have heard of Without Waves from Chicago yet?
Of course. We formed Without Waves in 2010 with a more open ended approach to songwriting. Collectively, Zac (Guitarist), Garry (Drums), John (Bass/Vocals) and myself have been playing together for about fifteen years. We played in a thrash band in high school and through college (John joined us around '07 or '08). After about eight years in that band, we decided to go a different direction. We started Without Waves with the intention of doing whatever we wanted musically without boundaries. Like most, we're not big fans of labels but we get called progressive metal a lot. For lack of a better term, you can call us post-prog.
I’d love to go in-depth with a couple of songs that stood out to me personally, but before that, let’s talk about influences. I had a hard time shoehorning you into a specific sound or genre, as there are so many different influences present. Are there specific bands that you would call persistent influences in the sound heard on ‘Lunar’?
I wouldn't say there is a group of bands we would call persistent influences per se. Our tastes change quite frequently. The four of us have very different tastes in music, but some of the bands that have influenced us over the years are Death, King Crimson, Devin Townsend, Dillinger Escape Plan, Ministry, Failure, and Tool. Those are few of very many though. ‘Lunar’ is a unique collection of those influences and more.
Like I said, let’s go in-depth for a bit on a couple songs that stood out to me, starting with opener ‘Sewing Together the Limbs’. It’s as uncompromising as it is heavy, with creative drumming, ear-shattering vocals and imaginative riffs reeking of dissonance. What made you pick this song as the opener on the album?
To be honest, it just felt right. ‘Sewing...’ is the perfect opener for this record because it highlights that ‘balance’ you mentioned earlier. It features some of the heaviest riffs we've written juxtaposed with a clean vocal hook/harmony in each of the choruses. It also has a really strong groove, with a pulsating quality to it. Garry's drumming on this song is impeccable. It's a solid introduction to us as a band. Foundationally speaking we are a metal band, but not in a traditional sense. We like to switch things up a bit if and when a song calls for it.
’Us Against’ is a polar opposite of ‘Sewing Together the Limbs’ in its mellow, incredibly groovy 15/16 meter and catchy lyrics and vocals. It first paints the prevailing picture of balance on the album; where some bands might faultily try to implement dynamics in songs, you shape a distinction between songs, if I’m hearing it correctly. ‘Us Against’ is my favorite on the album. What goes into the writing process for Without Waves?
Our writing process generally begins at home. Zac (Guitarist) or I usually come in with a few riffs or an almost complete song, but then we hash it out as a group, changing things here and there. However, some of the tunes on the record came together at our rehearsal spot during a jam session. ‘Us Against’ was one of those moments where we captured some magic in a bottle. Zac started playing the intro riff, then I started playing a riff under it, I came up with the vocal melody, John came up with some great bass hooks, and so on and so on until we had a complete piece by the end of the night. We normally record a lot of our rehearsals and I recently discovered an mp3 of us writing that song. Listening back, it came together so naturally. ‘Lost Art’ was like that too. ‘Us Against’ is definitely one of our favorites on the record.
’Never Know Quite Why’ is another more mellow song that instantly grabbed me because of the remarkably hypnotizing effect the verses had on me as well as the interesting, unusual progression in the chorus. Its song structure on the other hand is more straight forward than in other songs and I would almost go as far as calling it ‘catchy’. Do you think about the musical ‘accessibility’ of your songs when you write them?
Not particularly. I think we naturally have an inclination to incorporate hooks and melody into what we do when it feels right. ‘Never Know Quite Why’ is one of those instances. As a band, we try to implore a ‘serve the song’ mentality. If a tune calls for some quiet crooning, we're all for it just as much as if a song calls for a blood curdling, shit-your-pants type scream. I'm personally very proud of ‘Never Know Quite Why’ because it showcases our versatility and honesty as a group.
’Victorian Punishment’ ushers in a couple of heavier songs and does so in a very dissonant, almost Ulcerate kind of way. I also picked up some distressing lyrics. What can you tell me about the lyrical themes on the album?
Lyrically, we like to keep things pretty ambiguous. As a listener, I always prefer and appreciate it when a band doesn't reveal the meaning behind their lyrics. I like coming to my own conclusions and applying it to my own life experience. I've had many instances where I've come to love a song and it's lyrics, then come to find out the lyrics have nothing to do with the meaning I attached to them. That being said, the record is about loss, fear, resentment, growth, all aspects of our collective human experience. ‘Victorian Punishment’ features my favorite lyrics on the record actually. It's about complete powerlessness. The chorus of ‘killing the women and children first’ is incredibly brutal and numbing. We explore some other worldly themes as well. I'm fascinated by the unknowable, the physics of space and time. The universe is a fascinating as it is frightening.
’Lost Art’ and ‘Fractals’ follow the vortex of aggression in blissful grace. I really enjoy how you structured the album in a ‘sandwich’ method by working in groups of two songs at a time, alternating between heavy and more mellow sounds. Was this a conscious decision in the writing process, or did this decision only take shape when the tracklist was formed?
This definitely took shape when we decided on the track listing. These songs were written over a five to six year period. Once all of the songs were recorded, we tried a number of different incarnations, but the track listing on the record seemed to flow the best out of all of them. There's an ebb and flow to the record. We are happy with how it turned out.
’Memento Mori’ closes the album in (probably) the heaviest way yet. What made this song stick out for it to be the closer of the album?
When we first wrote this song, it screamed ‘closer’ to me. It definitely feels like an exclamation point on the record. After all the peaks and valleys, you finish ‘Fractals,’ then we proceed to kick you in the face with ‘Memento Mori.’ The song itself is rather short if you cut out the outro. We slammed a ton of riffs into a short amount of time, some of the catchiest riffs on the record too. Zac wrote this awesome outro comprised of layers of looped riffs and sounds. I love the fact that the record ends with this epic wall of reptilian sounding guitars and whammy pedals.
Like I said, I loved the album and its variety and I can see it becoming a contender in my end-year list already. Now that we’ve been hanging around in 2017 for a bit, are there any albums you particularly enjoyed lately?
We've been spinning the newest Gojira record quite a bit despite it being released last year. The new Junius record is fantastic as well. Outside of metal, I've been listening to Thundercat a lot. His new album is really relaxing.
I didn’t notice many European dates coming up. Are there any plans of hitting up Europe and maybe even Holland soon?
We are actively trying to make our way over there at some point. Holland would be awesome! Hopefully we'll get there soon!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some of our questions. Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
Thank you for your kind words! We hope everyone who listens to the record gets something out of it. We are thrilled the record is being released via Prosthetic Records! 2017 is going to be an exciting year for us.