April 22, 2008

Happy 100th Post to us! Rogue Wave Interview! Yay!

Sunday afternoon St. Louisans were treated to a Rogue Wave in-store performance at Vintage Vinyl before the real thing later that night at WashU's Gargoyle Club. The guys were running a bit behind due to a late start in Chicago that morning. I had an interview lined up with frontman Zach Rogue and once they arrived I was informed that Zach was feeling under the weather and I'd be scheduled to meet up with guitarist/keyboardist Gram LeBron instead. The show started promptly at 3:30, as was rescheduled and couldn't have been better. Had I not been informed of Zach (and the rest of the bands) extreme depravity of sleep I never would have guessed due to their remarkable performance. Four members outfitted with acoustic guitars and the drummer equipped with various percussive items, as well as a suitcase keyboard.

Drummer, Patrick Spurgeon (L) goofing with Gram LeBron (R).

Here's what transpired in the back room, poking and prodding for information while gram randomly drew on album covers and signed posters:
SDS: Thanks for meeting with me today! Great set by the way.

GL:
Thank you! It was not what we were expecting to do ourselves, but we were late so what you saw was a last minute thing.

SDS: Well, it really was great. So, I read in a recent STL Today interview that you played the Duck Room and it was a less than desirable experience (with the sound tech dinking around on his laptop). How often does that happen and does it leave a bad taste in your mouth for that venue, city or state?

GL:
[laughs] Every time we’ve played there (twice) there hasn’t been very many people there, and that’s fine. Every time we’ve played there (at the Duck Room) there has always been another good band or a big band playing in town that same night. I think both times we’ve played at the Duck Room that’s happened. It’s hard to not get mad or upset, but that place is weird. Yeah, that guy just had his laptop up there with the board and just sat on the internet and something will be feeding back or going wrong and we’ll be asking for something to be changed and we’d look up and he’d just be [taps on table, looks at imaginary laptop] on the computer. We’ve always played there with good bands, I mean it’s been a good time, but that place has definitely never been more than half full when we play there.

SDS: Do any of you hang out together outside of touring/recording? Is there much practice that goes on outside of touring/recording?

GL:
Oh yeah. Well, Pat and I were friends before and he saw our post on Craig’s List and we sent him a CD, he got the CD and Pat joined up, like, right away. Yeah, we still hang out a lot and before tour we practice a lot before tour and we practice generally when we’re in the mode of like, recording or touring or practicing. We usually practice four or five times a week, at least. Since we all have been able to quit our jobs, like, this is what we do now. So, you know, we’ll have five or six hours of practice each day about four or five times a week and it’s more of a mellow, laid-back kind of job [laughs]. It’s great, you just feel it, it’s more fun and you get to just stay a band. It feels less like “Oh man, we’ve gotta go practice again” and more like “Oh yeah, cool, let’s get together again!” It’s a lot less forced.

SDS: Forced, that’s a great word. No one wants to be forced to do a job that they don’t like.

GL:
Definitely! [laughs] Get a job you like!

SDS: So, what questions are you sick and tired of being asked? I’m sure the “How did you get your name?” comes up a lot.

GL:
Hmm…”How’d you get your name?” That’s old. And “How was it” or “What was it like being on Sub Pop?” Um, “How’d you guys meet?” or “How’d you guys start?” Which, I mean, is fine, but if those people would go online and search for “Rogue Wave Interviews” or whatever, those people would see that all of those questions have already been answered. Yeah.

SDS: Well, I did notice a particularly interesting question from an old interview. It was concerning the prevalence of birds and themes focusing on birds. I noticed that a lot of you have bird tattoos, too. Is there any actual relevance to that or is it just coincidence?

GL:
[laughs] Ok, yeah, I don’t know. And we’ve also been covering a song by Neil Young called “Birds” (laughs), so, I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t think so, it’s just a fascination that we have. And Zach also named his daughter after a bird, yeah. I don’t know, certain imagery just really sticks out to us I guess.

SDS: So, I know Zach is from Oakland and is a huge A’s fan. Are all of you from Oakland?

GL:
Well, this is Pat [points to bassist Pat Abernathy] and he’s from San Francisco, but everyone else is from Oakland.

PA: There's a Giants game today? Go Giants! Beat the Cardinals! [laughs]

SDS: So, do you all follow the A’s?

GL:
Oh man [laughs], not really. I mean, Zach really does. Pat and I went to an A’s game once with Zach and he and I (Pat) ran around like little kids in search of hot dogs and beer (acts like a running child and screams “Eeee!”). Oh yeah, Zach will tell you all about it. He could name the whole team, every one of them. He was born and raised in Oakland, so he’s been following the A’s since he was a little kid. He doesn’t really even care about baseball outside of the A’s.

SDS: Well, speaking of bands and baseball I know that Two Gallants are from San Francisco and pretty big fans of the Giants.

GL:
Those guys are great and we toured with them a few years ago. One of our first big headlining tours we took them out there with us. They were really cool guys.

SDS: Other people of interest from out there would be John Vanderslice. I read that he’s a big hugger and I did not know that. But, then again everyone seems to have a John Vanderslice story. What's up with that? Do you have any stories?

GL:
[laughs hysterically] Oh man! Yeah, yeah he is! He’s so funny, he’s just like the sweetest, nicest guy ever. He’s been so supportive and he actually sang a little bit on our last record.

SDS: So, do any of you ever read on the road? What books are you currently reading?

GL:
Yeah, right now I’m reading a book called “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pond and it’s about the corn industry and how it’s destroying our ecosystem and our culture and food and how it’s totally changed in the last 50 years since Nixon signed the Farm Bill. So, now everyone just makes corn instead of having tons of different crops, like they used to, so now everyone just makes corn. And we always read a lot of books about bands, we are always kind of doing a lot of research and studying, like about The Beatles or the Stones or whatever. There’s a book called “Here, There and Everywhere: My Story with The Beatles” and it’s a really good book by Jeff Emrick who was the engineer and had just as much to do with their sound as George Martin did. As far as reading on the road, yeah, sometimes it’s hard and sometimes I’ll crack a book open and other times I won’t. Other times I’ll open a book and then just close it again right away because I’m thinking of sleeping.

SDS: So, what are some of your favorites? Would you consider Emrick’s book one of them?

GL:
Oh yeah, definitely definitely. We continually go back to them (books like those), especially when we’re getting ready to go to the studio to record and how it has to do with the music we make or how we want it to sound. “The Band’s Biography” is another really good book. Zach reads a lot of fiction, I don’t know what he’s reading right now, though. We read a lot of music magazines, we’re always reading magazines and trying to keep up with what’s going on.

SDS: Is anyone into any classic fiction or anything?

GL:
Yeah, I’m trying to think of what everyone is reading now. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and I also just got a book by one of those really famous Japanese authors. I just got it and I haven’t started it yet, but I can’t remember the name of it. I’m sorry! A friend just recommended it to me and I just can’t remember who it is or what it’s called. I’m a big Tom Robbins fan. Dominic is reading a book on The Clash right now and Patrick is reading a book by Beth Lisick who is a comedian and writer from San Francisco and is a good friend of ours, it’s called “Helping Me Help Myself”. Yeah, Pat’s continually trying to finish Neil Young’s biography, “Shakey”. It’s like 400 pages and he reads just a little bit at a time.

SDS: That’s cool.

GL:
Yeah, it’s definitely good to read. More than anything, though, we’ve been talking a lot, too. I think more than ever we’re just enjoying each others company, which is good. Having Dominic is really awesome, too. He’s only been in the band for about 6 months or so and he’s really freshened us up a bit.

SDS: So, we’ve covered reading on the road. Is there anything you typically eat while on the road?

GL:
We try to go and eat whole foods as much as we can while out on the road. We don’t ever go to fast food and we try to eat as healthy as we can.

SDS: Is there anything or anywhere that you’re just really tired of eating?

GL:
[laughs] Bread. I’m trying to not eat so much bread and there’s always bread around. I mean, a lot of times it’s really good, but sometimes it’s just like [grunts]…I don’t know. I realize that sometimes we’ll just sit around in the van and stuff our faces all day. It’s like you eat food to have energy to do stuff and then we don’t do anything (laughs).

SDS: Outside of eating healthy and whole foods, is there anything that you just really love to eat or have around to snack on?

GL:
Hummus! We love hummus and just veggies and fruit.

SDS: If you are near a Trader Joe’s get the Chipotle Hummus, it’s really good and super delicious.

GL:
Oh yeah? Yes! There’s a White Cheddar Popcorn from Trader Joe’s that comes in like, a salmon colored bag…it’s really amazing. Try it.

SDS: My last question is about The Fillmore in San Francisco. Zach claimed in an old interview that you guys all loved playing there because it felt like “home” and “it smells like all of music history”. Could you explain what music history smells like?

GL:
Oh yeah. Totally. No, it’s funny. You just stand on that stage and you look out, like [gazes in wonderment] and you think of everyone else who has played there. I remember the first time we played there, we were opening for Spoon four years ago and Zach’s parents were there. [sighs] I mean, it was just a really big deal. After we finished our set we just ran around crying, hugging each other, just…all those people were out there screaming for us. We went backstage and Zach’s Mom was crying. We all just couldn’t believe it. So, now we’re finally headlining there on May 3rd. We’re really excited.

SDS: Thank you so much for taking your time to speak with me. I'm looking forward to seeing you tonight!

GL:
Awesome, thank you. Good job, too. See you tonight, luckily it's not too far and we have a lot of time.