Expounding on... Without An eXplanation whY - WAXY
Gallery: WAXY [5 Images] Click any image to expand.
By Robin Linn
I have been experiencing the music of Waxy for many years. They are highly energetic, soulful, psychedelic, with poetic lyrics that are highly relatable.
I most recently saw the live Waxy show at the Concert For Autism at The Hood in Palm Desert last May. It was a powerful performance.
The new CD, Without Any Explanation Why, has an authentic desert rock sound. Robbie Waldman’s lyrics and guitar work are significantly important to where they have evolved over the years for me as a listener.
After the live show and listening to the newest CD, I had questions. The following interview with bassist Damian Lautiero and Robbie Waldman is a fascinating look into the music and the minds of two of my favorite desert rock performers.
– Robin Linn
RL: Please list the names and instrumentation of each member of the band.
RW/DL: Robert Owen – Vocals and Guitar
Damien Lautiero – Bass and Vocals
Jack Kohler – Keys
Ehren Groban – Guitar
Peter Leighton – Drums and Percussion
Mike Johnson – Drums
RL: I first saw WAXY at Flaherty’s around 2004. When did the band actually come together?
RW/DL: WAXY has gone through a lot of changes over the years in two significant ways. One has been the style of music and the other the people playing it. In the beginning WAXY had a much softer side with acoustic guitar being much more prevalent. As time has gone on the guitars became mainly electric and the grooves became simpler and more aggressive. I would say that morphing happened in 2006/2007.
RL: How would you describe your sound?
RW/DL: I think rock and roll best describes our music but more specifically WAXY is heavy avant-garde blues with flare and surprises. When we play right the music should be relentless and sensitive at the same time. One of the most important qualities any band or songwriter can have is sincerity and I believe we have that.
RL:How do you feel the sound differs from the recording to the live experience?
RW/DL: Playing shows and recording are certainly related but have totally different approaches. There is really no right or wrong way but for me, I’m of the philosophy that a recorded version of a song should be a complete vision for that song and if you’re making an album, one piece of a large puzzle. I think it’s okay to double the vocals even though that can’t really be done live. I think it’s okay to layer instruments and have small intricate parts that would require 10 people to pull off live. In other words my mindset when it comes to making records is, this is a timeless piece of art….splash all the color and shapes you can at the canvas and see what you get. Sometimes you get magic…sometimes you get mush but the process is what’s key. Trying to get what’s in your head out on the tape.
Live is totally different. Playing shows is about the moment….different song orders, new songs mixed with old ones. Playing live also has the unique ability to move air and the sounds actually hits you. There’s nothing like it when the kick drum is thumping you right in the chest! It’s like the difference between seeing a movie versus going to the theatre and seeing the actors on stage. One is a deliberate, enormous and repeatable act while the other is different every time simply by it’s very nature. Specifically with WAXY….I think our records are cool and have a unique quality which makes us, us. When we play live, it’s always an adventure. Every room is different, every sound system is different and every sound engineer has their own way of making it go…..every crowd is different. But when we play we like to jam and extend certain sections of songs……screw with the arrangement and just have fun with the grooves. One of the best things a band can do and actually has to do, is keep the music fresh. You’ve got to have courage when you’re on stage and learn to fight like a brave.
RL: Tell me about the new CD and what it means to you. I know from a conversation with Robbie that this is the CD he always wanted to make. Perhaps you could elaborate.
RW/DL: I’m very proud of the new record named Without Any eXplanation whY. Since I’m able to record myself I had the ability to take a long time with each song and not feel rushed. That’s of course a double-edged sword because it’s impossible to finish anything if you don’t have a deadline, but I was able to give attention to every detail I saw fit. That’s a real luxury and that’s what I mean when I say it’s the record I always wanted to make. At the same time I’d love to scrap it too and start all over again, fresh. A lot of bands actually do that. Just ask Axl Rose, HA! That’s the nature of the beast though. Their will always be something I wished I had done once it’s finished. I think most musicians/producers are like that but it’s SO SO SO important to remember that the record is a moment in time. Let it be what it is. Who cares if it’s not perfect……what’s perfect anyway? Everything, nothing?? As long as you do the best you can with what you’ve got at that moment, then you’re doing the right thing. That’s when you’re putting your soul into it and that’s a beautiful thing.
DL: What are the hopes and aspirations for Waxy?
RW/DL: My hope for WAXY is to tour four to six months of the year….make an album every 12 to 18 months and decompress and write fresh material in between through jamming and side bands. My dream is to be able to earn the respect of music lovers and be able to perform to an excited audience every night! More specifically, this year WAXY has plans to play at NxNE in Toronto in June and we are currently planning another European tour in September/October. We are from the desert but we like to tour when it’s cold. HA! We are also in the middle of finishing our second video with a third waiting in the wings.
RL: Where can we see WAXY from mid-June on?
RW/DL: In the summertime WAXY tends to play out of the desert because of the heat. Also, WAXY will be doing a lot of recording this summer so gigs will be happening less. I’m very good friends with Robyn and Linda and Pappy and Harriets and they’d like us to play there again and I’m sure we’ll play at The Hood as well. At the moment our next show is in Toronto.
RL: What inspires you musically. Is it the original music coming out of the desert? Or, is it a culmination of those you have loved and listened to on recordings? or....both?
RW/DL: Honestly everything around you is inspiration but growing up in the desert in the 90s was very special. Kyuss, Unsound, Fatso Jettson, Sean Wheeler, Groovalopicus, Green Eggs and Hammonds, Lung Cookie, Across The River and about 20 other local bands I can’t remember at the moment were HUGE influences on me and my approach to writing and recording music. The awesome thing about bands from your town is that it’s right in front of you and it’s totally accessible and you can watch them grow right from the beginning rather then discovering a band off of the radio or a record or something like that. But the scene today here at home is still cool and totally influences me now as well.
The two bands I’ve really been digging lately are Tame Impala and The Black Angeles and they are not form here BUT I can guarantee you they’ve been influenced by the music that has come out of the desert!
RL: What do you hope fans and friends will experience at a Waxy show? What kind of scene does Waxy create?
RW/DL: My hope for fans and friends that come see us play is that they get absorbed by our grooves and musicality. When people make an effort to support you and choose to come to see you they are also choosing not to do something else….not to see another band or go to dinner or whatever. Time is all we have and when someone makes the time to come see you, I look at it as an honor. That will always get my most sincere respect and I feel a huge responsibility to bring a kick-ass time. I also want the people watching to feel like part of the family…..that the band is totally accessible to them….not just the music but us, the players. Like I said before when you play live, every night is different but when we do it right, WAXY is loud, creamy and sexy and should give you a dose of adrenaline with a hint of danger. It’s not rock and roll if nothing breaks, you know…..
RL: When did Robbie come to the desert?
RW/DL: I was born in Los Angeles but I’ve been in the Desert my entire life….mostly Palm Springs. My family moved here six months after I was born.
RL: A bit about his other musical endeavors including the studio if he wishes it mentioned…
RW/DL: I own a recording studio called Unit A Recording & Arts. I’ve been making recordings there for the last 12 years. It’s a commercial studio with a 24-track tape machine, an old MCI console and Pro Tools HD as well. I’ve got lots of gear and lots more I wish I had. Before I took over the lease it used to be the home of Monkey Studios. It was owed by Steve Feldman, Chris Goss and others. Many fabulous records were made their including the first Queens of the Stone Age record, Ian Astbury’s solo record, Fu Manchu and many others. Since I’ve had the place I’ve recorded Brian Setzer, Captain and Tanielle, Bill Medley, WAXY of course and my other band named War Drum.
War Drum is a desert based band that formed in 2009 and my role is playing bass and singing harmony vocals. In the beginning, I was friends with some of the guys but noticed they didn’t have a bass player so I started asking questions and next thing you know, it’s a band. War Drum has had a steady rise in the desert music scene and just got back from touring around Europe with WAXY. I have a love affair with the bass and really enjoy taking more of a backseat role in the dynamics of band as well as the internal politics and decision-making. I have years of experience compared to the rest of the group but I enjoy watching the growing pains and observing and how situations work themselves out. For me it’s all about the music and the people you’re playing with. War Drum is a blast!
For much more desert music news, music videos, gig news, band profiles, and other music features, please visit The Sun Runner’s website: www.thesunrunner.com. Music columnists Robin Linn and Hal Hiner will keep you up to date on bands, gigs, and news from the hottest musicians across the desert.
Want even more? Check out our enhanced digital editions of The Sun Runner at www.magzter.com (we’re in the Travel and Lifestyle sections). The enhanced digital edition of the Desert Music Issue includes eight additional pages of music photos, including many from our archives, along with links to music videos and more. The enhanced digital edition is optimized to work with tablets, smartphones, and computers, and for a limited time annual subscriptions are only .99 cents!
Who’s your favorite desert band of all time? Let us know on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thesunrunner.
WAXY - White Walls (featuring John Garcia)
WAXY - Slowly Erasing
sun runner joshua tree coachella coachella valley desert music waxy robin linn desert rock fatso jetson queens of the stone age across the river sean wheeler robert owen damien lautiero jack kohler ehren groban peter leighton mike johnson robbie waldman kyuss unsound groovalopicus green eggs and hammonds lung cookie tame impala black angeles monkey studios steve feldman chris goss ian astbury fu manchu brian setzer captain and tenille bill medley war drum