Wavves‘ sixth studio album You’re Welcome is “sort of all over the place,” according to the band’s outspoken lead vocalist Nathan Williams. The new record from the San Diego-based band draws on their California Pacific Coast roots, while exploring other sectors of the punk and underground rock scenes.
It’s been nine years since the group released their debut eponymous album, a rougher, lo-fi record submerged in the intricacies of noise pop. You’re Welcome smoothens Wavves‘ jagged edges, and abandons the power pop sound explored on the group’s last studio album V (2015).
You’re Welcome is meant to “go in a new direction,” Williams tells Billboard about his band’s new album, which you can stream below. Upon first listen this becomes evident. The collection of “oddball songs” starts with “Daisy,” a surf-punk track for the new age, carrying the hook, “I need to hold her, I need to touch her”. The group enters grungier territory on the third track “No Shade,” while “Million Enemies” teeters on Muse-style arena rock.
Wavves does not fully abandon their signature sound, however, as the frontman’s favorite track “Come To The Valley” — despite being referred to by Williams as “pretty strange” — recalls the psychedelic rock textures oozing from the group’s third LP King of the Beach.
Currently, Wavves is touring in various cities around North America, spending their first few dates with Blink 182. When Billboard caught up with the band on Friday (May 19) they were preparing for more gigs, and had a few choice words about their anti-Trump advocacy.
How is this album different from your debut Wavves? And your last?, V?
They’re different in almost every way. My debut album, I recorded in my parents’ garage. I wrote, produced and played all the instruments myself. This time I co-produced it with Dennis Herring and I have a full band. I think You’re Welcome is a more oddball record. There’s a lot of studio stuff that we did. V was more like a power-pop, pop-punk band-sounding record. This one has a lot more sample-based stuff. Just sort of weirder synth elements I guess.
Why did you decide to go more sample based and synth for this particular record?
It’s something that I’ve done before. I did it on a couple of songs. I did it on “Mickey Mouse” and “Baseball Cards” for our album King of the Beach. I don’t know, it’s something that I’ve been doing for a while. I didn’t want to just make another pop-punk record. I wanted to do something a little different.
You revealed that you decided to ban Trump supporters from your tour. Can you explain where that came from, and how you actually enacted that?
I didn’t ban them. I wish I could — that would be incredible if I had a guide to check and see if anyone bought MAGA gear in their life. I just said that Wavves shows are a safe place for people to be open minded and excepting and that doesn’t go hand-in-hand with anything Trump stands for. I don’t think I lost a lot of fans saying that. I think that was a year ago, but there’s not a lot of Make America Great Again gear at Wavves shows, so I don’t have to worry about it.
There was some MAGA gear at a Blink show — it was in Florida — and I said something, but Florida probably wasn’t the best place to sprout anti-Trump rhetoric. The crowd generally agreed with me. They cheered it on, they were with it. So that was good. Maybe Trump will get assassinated soon and we won’t have to think about this anymore.
Did you find yourself recording more political records this time around?
Not particularly. I guess there is one song on the record that talks about the state of the world for a second. Not specifically political. I definitely talk more about my stance on the things just because the issues are now a little more important and in need of voices to speak up. I use mine to speak up about what I feel like I should. I’m not going to record a political punk album anytime soon.
What advice would you give to those having a tough time in this political climate?
We’re in it together. Lean on friends and talk to other like minded people. We can all hope that he dies soon or that he is impeached or something terrible happens. Any witches, anybody that casts spells or anything. Get them into a room, get a seance popping. [Laughs.]
Do you have anything exciting coming for the summer aside from promoting this album and your tour?
I think when we get back we’re going to take a little break. This is an eight week tour. Everybody’s going to sort of recharge. We have plans for Australia and then another big US tour in the fall, and two festivals. A couple sort of one-off 7″s that will come at the end of the year, but we won’t give that stuff away quite yet.