Event on 2017-05-18 20:00:00
with Post Animal
The word 'brat' has followed Nathan Williams around for almost a decade, but atthe age of 30, with a fully-fledged business to his name, as well as the ongoingsuccess of band Wavves, his rebellious streak has proven not just purposeful butpreGy damn inspiring. The San Diego naJve knows how to play the system, sowhen the major labels came knocking a few years ago looking to turn Wavves intothe next so-called saviours of radio rock'n'roll, Williams and bassist Stephen Popemade sure they used it to their advantage.We were just trying to go to eat at nice places in LA, he laughs. There were afew people from majors who would not stop reaching out to us. They wereobsessed. They thought we had heat and they needed an edgy big rock band likethey used to have in the '90s. Me and Stephen were in our shiGy apartments,Googling 'nicest restaurants in LA'. We went to eight or nine dinners. At the endwe'd say, 'not interested'.When Warners came along and offered them a cash advance too good to refuse,they accepted while being shrewdly aware of what they were geTng themselvesinto. We sJll owned all of our shit, which was the most important part for us. Forthem it was a shot in the dark. The day to day of being signed to a major,however, was unpredictable and beyond their wildest nightmares. I figured itwould run the same as [prior label] Fat Possum, just with more people. I waswrong. By the Jme they were readying to release their second Warners album 2015's 'V' shots were fired. Williams released single 'Way Too Much' onSoundcloud before the label had approved it, the label forgot to sign off on theartwork and, in the end, Wavves felt swept under the rug. UlJmately it felt like acareer step backwards.I'd never come in contact with such a poorly run company in my life, saysWilliams. It was anarchy. Nobody knew what they were doing. Turnover rate waslike an American Apparel. It was really all cons unless youre a cash cow. Foreveryone else, major labels cant help you. Maybe at one Jme they could, but thatJme is dead. The birds-eye view on Warners' inner mess wound up pushingWilliams to legiJmize his own business Ghostramp. I figured if these idiotscould get by, we could do it a hundred Jmes beGer.With that fighJng spirit, Williams took back control and realized his own teenagedreams. Today, during a Monday lunchJme hour, he's making Jme betweenmeeJngs to talk about forthcoming sixth Wavves record 'You're Welcome' in thestock room at Ghostramp's Chinatown-based LA skate shop. Opening in October2016, Ghostramp is the physical embodiment of a vision that harks back to beforeWilliams made the first Wavves' albums in his parents' garage. It's a merchandisestore, it's a label, it's a tangible community in a Jme when the digital age hastaken the confidence out of physical product. And what's more it's working.'You're Welcome' is the soundtrack to this new lease of freedom. It's Williams'tongue-in-cheek rebirth as a self-released, self-actualized, self-promoJng punkkingpin, and despite puTng his money where his uncensored mouth is, he'semerged not just unscathed but with the upper hand. Im my own boss and thatfeels great, he smiles.In February 2016, months before Ghostramp opened, Williams took himself intoproducer Dennis Herring's ['King Of The Beach'] studio in Downtown LA, and forthe first Jme since the early records worked regular office hours and almostenJrely alone. It was the polar opposite experience to making 2013's 'Afraid OfHeights' record, which took Wavves over a year and was out of control. Wewere so fucked up in the studio everybody, the producer, the engineer, everyonerecording. We'd waste days, recalls Williams. With this, Williams broughteveryone in one at a Jme, ensuring it was the minimum amount of peoplepossible. That prevented the recording from descending intomidnight oil-burningparty sessions.The album was put together wholly differently from 'V', too, which was recordedlive as a band album together with guitarist Alex Gates, drummer Brian Hill andStephen in the studio. 'You're Welcome' is mostly comprised of Williams' oddball,sample-led brainstorms. He came up with 40 tracks, now whiGled down to twelve,fat-free punk zingers. I'd come up with an idea, fool around with it, have Briancome in and play drums, then figure it out. A sample nerd, Williams delved intohis obsession with 1950s doo-wop and surprisingly internaJonal folk, includingCambodian pop and '70's psychedelia from South America.The results make for one of the most diverse and intricate Wavves records yet.'Come To The Valley' contains a Phil Spector meets Beach Boys '60s High Schooldance vibe, whereas Jtle track 'You're Welcome' riffs on sound effects that couldalmost originate from Bizarro World, never mind Cambodia. Some of his ideas ranaway with themselves a liGle too much, as Williams reveals one track was a liGletoo close to Drake's 'Hotline Bling' for comfort. 'Million Enemies' is right in hiscomfort zone though. Inspired by New York Dolls, Bowie and Gary GliGer, he callsit the anthem song. It's a song for the haters, he says. The lyrics I gotenemies, a million enemies, living in the streetstonight are a call-to-arms foranyone whose detractors are out to get them. I don't have a million enemies,jokes Williams. But probably 500,000.The biggest shij of all, and the ulJmate laying down of the gauntlet to Williams'doubters, is the subject maGer. Where 'V' was a buzzkill record, all hangovers,lovers' Jffs and depression, 'You're Welcome' is less navel-gazing. It's dealing withmaGers outside of Williams' own headspace. I'm Jred of wriJng about myself,says Williams. It got boring. On this record I tell more stories, talk about parts ofmy life from other people's perspecJve. 'Stupid In Love' for instance is about afemale junkie who lived near him back in San Diego. 'Animal' is his anJ-corporate,anJ-establishment track. The whole world covered in gasoline and burning alive/Ifeel taken advantage of and empty inside go the lyrics.On their last tour, Wavves banned members of the audience, includinghomophobes, anJ-aborJonists, racists, and Trump supporters. Ghostramp'swebsite is currently donaJng to the likes of ACLU, Planned Parenthood andNaJonal ImmigraJon Law Center. On 'You're Welcome' too, it seems Williams hasdecided to get poliJcal, parJcularly on the song 'Exercise', with its lyrics dancingwhile the world is burning down I can't believe the shit they feed to us/They'relying to our face.I never thought I'd write a song like that, says Williams. I don't know if it'sbecause I'm older or because shit got so fucked up and crazy but at this point nowyou shouldn't be worried to say something. I wanna make it very clear what sideI'm on. If you're quiet about it because you don't wanna upset some of yourfanbase, then that's part of your fanbase you need to weed out.There's also finally a love song, called 'I Love You' that lays Williams' emoJonsbare unashamedly for the first Jme. Perhaps too, a sign of maturity. It's just alove song, he says. I'd always skirt around feelings and find different ways ofsaying things unless I was literally saying, 'I'm depressed.'Offering a tour around Ghostramp's store, Williams explains that they're alreadylooking to expand and move into a bigger space next door this year. Back in 2013,he put out Wavves' 'Life Sux' EP by himself. It was too much of a headache and herealized he needed to build a team of capable friends. Now that team runs thisdaily operaJon, proving that DIY and business savvy can be bedfellows. It's sJllhilarious to Williams that even in the early days, people would chasJse him forselling out. Did people think that when I'm 45 I'd sJll be recording records inmy mom's basement? Being an entrepreneur, having a hold over your ownbusiness, being able to employ your friends and create not just a place for fansbut for other people to share their ideas too is so cool.Via Ghostramp, Williams isn't just puTng out Wavves' new record, he's signingother local garage bands, funding his tours, schooling DIY arJsts in how to createand distribute merchandise in a way that supports your career and provides futuresecurity where nobody else can. As for Warners, that cash advance helped pay forthis store. The rest came from the money Wavves made off merch during 2016'sSummer Is Forever II Tour with Best Coast and Cherry Glazerr. I thoughtGhostramp would be a hobby, doing 7-inches here and there. But now it's alegiJmate business, says Williams. The thing is I'm not just interested in makingmusic for Wavves. I'm too ADD. Being an entrepreneur, being hands-on isnt justsmart, its necessary. Your art is everything you do, every choice you make. I wasable to build my own thing, own it and control it all 100%. If I want to dosomething now I dont ask anyone. I just fucking do it that's priceless.Nathan Williams never went away, but now he's made sure he's here to stay farlonger. And for that, girls and boys, you're welcome.

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