Wavves Return to Miami After More Than a Decade

Wavves frontman Nathan Williams
Wavves frontman Nathan Williams Photo by Jesse Lirola
Those who've lived to tell the tale of a Wavves show can attest that the energy of the band's performances is unparalleled. Funneling a beer with your abuela, encountering a gator in your pool, or putting your hand over the open grill flame at Samurai are way more chill than seeing this band live.

When New Times saw Wavves and Best Coast during the Tallahassee stop of the Summer Is Forever Tour in 2011, this reporter snapped in half like a tree branch hanging on for dear life — and it was awesome.

For the uninitiated, the West Coast outfit will return to Miami for the first time in 11 years on Thursday, October 14, at the Ground in support of its latest album, Hideaway. The last time Wavves came to the Magic City was when it opened for Phoenix on October 27, 2010, to a sold-out crowd. The band, consisting of frontman and guitarist Nathan Williams, bassist Stephen Pope, guitarist Alex Gates, and touring drummer Ross Traver, will make the brave trek through the state, playing five Florida shows, in Tallahassee, Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville, and Miami.

With a reputation of somersaulting off balconies into the crowd at the band's shows, Williams probably has a lot of energy to burn during Wavves' post-lockdown Wavves gigs.

"I'm expecting there to be a lot of energy," Williams says over the phone alongside his dog in San Diego.

Wavves' last live performance took place on December 31, 2019.

"Some things you take for granted, you know what I mean?" Williams says, reflecting on nearly two years without playing shows. "Touring is tough, and I've been doing it for like eight, nine months out of the year for almost my whole life now, it seems like. So this break sucked, but at the same time, I think everybody is realizing now we've got that itch, and we're ready to get back out and do it."

Hideaway, written in 2018 in the backyard shack of Williams' parents' house in San Diego, is among Wavves' most potent and cathartic albums to date.

"I generally do all of my demoing there because there's nobody to bother me, and it's just sort of a comfortable place to do it," Williams explains.

An avid runner before his herniated disks, Williams says he listened to Hideaway's first mixes while running.

He describes running and long-distance walking as "very therapeutic. It's good to be alone with yourself sometimes. I think that's something we do less and less as technology progresses. I still bring an Apple watch so I can listen to something while I run or walk. But even just that and then not having a phone, it seems like a disconnect — maybe it's a little fake disconnect. Theres' something about it — I don't know if it's just getting your blood pumping or if it's just being out in nature or what. I can tell a difference mentally if I have or haven't."

In 2019, Williams turned to TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek after an unsuccessful stint with a previous producer he'd been working with on Hideaway's early sessions. After he and Sitek sent a few demos back and forth, the album's groundwork had been laid. The nine-track LP was then recorded in about 12 days at Sitek's home in Los Angeles.

"Since the songs were written so long prior to actually going in there, I think I had in my mind what we were going for," Williams explains. "It ended up speeding up the process, which was actually nice."

From "Hideaway" to "Thru Hell, "The Blame," and "Planting a Garden," the album is a genre-bending roller coaster of absolute bangers. Williams acknowledges it was Sitek who took the reins and encouraged him to experiment with country on "The Blame," admitting to being nervous about taking the song in that direction at first.

"It ended up being one of my favorite songs on the record at the end," Williams adds. "I think it's probably good, especially after doing this for so long, you sort of have to take those leaps sometimes. And you're not always going to hit with them, but I think it's just good generally, so you don't make the same record over and over again, to always try new things."

Because the album's rollout was delayed by the pandemic, Wavves had more time to focus on the art and its symbolism. At the time, Williams was reading Greek mythology that inspired the visuals and themes woven throughout Hideaway's album art, accompanying music videos, and eventual short film. The visual trilogy, directed by Jesse Lirola and styled by Ally Hilfiger, is comprised of music videos for "Sinking Feeling," "Hideaway," and "Thru Hell," with plenty of Easter eggs scattered throughout.

"The art is so important, especially now," Williams says. "If you're trying to convey some sort of message, the art is almost as important as the songs themselves. It's all a product together."

Williams has also been focusing on Sweet Valley, his electronic side project with brother Joel Kynan, to create songs using samples and art from every episode of The Sopranos. Aside from series creator David Chase, it's safe to say nobody knows more about the show than Williams. New Times' interview with the frontman quickly turned into a Sopranos appreciation hour.

"[Tony Soprano] is my favorite TV character of all time, easily, but [also] my favorite fictional character of all time. It's really up there for me," he says. "I'm straight nerd shit on all of  the Sopranos stuff."

Wavves. With Glove. 7 p.m. Thursday, October 14, at the Ground, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; Tickets cost $15 via
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