Jade Presents has announced that indie surf rock bands WAVVES and SadGirl will play The Aquarium in downtown Fargo on Saturday, May 9, 2020.
On their last tour, Wavves banned members of the audience, including homophobes, anti-abortionists, racists, and Trump supporters. Ghostramp’s website is currently donating to the likes of ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the National Immigration Law Center. On ‘You’re Welcome’ too, it seems Williams has decided to get political, particularly on the song ‘Exercise’, with its lyrics “dancing while the world is burning down… I can’t believe the shit they feed to us/They’re lying to our face.”
“I never thought I’d write a song like that,” says Williams. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m older or because shit got so fucked up and crazy but at this point now you shouldn’t be worried to say something. I wanna make it very clear what side I’m on. If you’re quiet about it because you don’t wanna upset some of your fanbase, 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’ emotions bare unashamedly for the first time. Perhaps too, a sign of maturity. “It’s just a love song,” he says. “I’d always skirt around feelings and find different ways of saying things unless I was literally saying, ‘I’m depressed.’”
Offering a tour around Ghostramp’s store, Williams explains that they’re already looking 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 he realized he needed to build a team of capable friends. Now that team runs this daily operation, proving that DIY and business savvy can be bedfellows. It’s still hilarious to Williams that even in the early days, people would chastise him for “selling out”. “Did people think that when I’m 45 I’d still be recording records in my mom’s basement? Being an entrepreneur, having a hold over your own business, being able to employ your friends and create not just a place for fans but for other people to share their ideas too is so cool.”
Via Ghostramp, Williams isn’t just putting out Wavves’ new record, he’s signing other local garage bands, funding his tours, schooling DIY artists in how to create and distribute merchandise in a way that supports your career and provides future security where nobody else can. As for Warners, that cash advance helped pay for this store. The rest came from the money Wavves made off merch during 2016’s Summer Is Forever II Tour with Best Coast and Cherry Glazerr. “I thought Ghostramp would be a hobby, doing 7-inches here and there. But now it’s a legitimate business,” says Williams. “The thing is I’m not just interested in making music for Wavves. I’m too ADD. Being an entrepreneur, being hands-on isn’t just smart, it’s necessary. Your art is everything you do, every choice you make. I was able to build my own thing, own it and control it all 100%. If I want to do something now I don’t ask anyone. I just fucking do it – that’s priceless.”
America is restless. And in the Golden State of California, the veneer of optimism and unlimited opportunity hides a countryside teetering on the edge of the Pacific. The hillside mansions risk burning in the wildfires while the views from oceanfront properties remind their owners that one tectonic shift will sink it all. Surely the people who built Los Angeles on the desert landscape were aware of the delicate balance of their surroundings, but hope springs eternal. And indeed, LA became a place of dreams realized, even though Mother Nature and the hands of fate often destroyed those dreams. LA’s SadGirl are acutely aware of that reality, and their analog rock n’ roll has always somehow managed to approximate the relentless optimism of the pioneer spirit, but they’ve also exuded some degree of self-awareness of the anodyne properties of vintage pop. With their new album Water, the Los Angeles trio taps into the romantic and nostalgic spirit of their native city while exuding a time-tested authenticity suggesting that they’ve had a peek behind the curtain of the manicured lawns, glitzy boulevards, and relentless sunshine.
“If you want to learn about water, go to the desert.” It’s a little nugget of wisdom imparted from SadGirl’s recording engineer and friend Max Garland, but it made an impact on guitarist/vocalist Misha Lindes. “Here we are in Los Angeles, a desert, ping-ponging between drought and El Niño. This record is just an attempt to share a very small portion of my experience growing up and living here,” Lindes says about the album. “It’s basically just about the fluidity of water and its power and importance.” But Water isn’t a musical adaptation of a Frank Herbert novel, it’s a collection of breezy, upbeat pop songs captured with the timbre of old-time recording techniques. Songs like “Little Queenie” touch upon the cadence, yesteryear reverberations, and soulful longing of a Ken Boothe ballad. It’s a song for afternoons in the sun, not reflections on our mortality. Similarly, a classic tormented love song like “Miss Me” nearly transports the listener back to wholesome slow dances at a previous generation’s sock hop, only to be subverted by a chorus of “miss me with that bullshit.” It’s as if guitarist/vocalist Misha Lindes, drummer David Ruiz, and bassist Dakota Peterson want to conjure an idealized past only to remind us of our loss of innocence.
“Chlorine” similarly plays at our emotions, busting out a Sam Cooke-style love song where the muse is equally seductive and poisonous. Much like the reverb and vibrato-drenched instrumental “Hazelnut Coffee”, these upbeat melodies and antiquated sounds seem to reference some earlier era, and would almost feel subservient to some long-gone ideal if they didn’t feel at odds with Los Angeles’ current digital amphetamine pulse. Any accusation that SadGirl’s penchant for classic sounds is rooted in escapism is completely voided by the closing track “Water”, a sparse acoustic song driven by Lindes’ reflective vocals. “It’s about realizing your own mortality and changing nature,” the songwriter notes. “It’s meant to be melancholy but still beautiful in its realization.”
Water was pieced together out of a series of recording sessions from the last two years using a variety of tape machines in a variety of environments—from living rooms to proper studios. Taken as a whole, they capture a band summoning the spirit of their surroundings in all its peaks and valleys. It’s a record steeped in the pop world of the past in order to create a contrast with our modern age. It’s a sugar-coated reminder of what we’ve lost, what we’ve never had, and what we’ll eventually lose.