Indie + alternative music culture depends on dedicated artists who create diversity & drive innovation in all aspects of songwriting, production & performance. We constantly feature new & notable independent acts on the verge of success. Meet this week’s featured artist in an exclusive interview. Introducing You To Your Next Favorite Artist: WASTE.
Waste is a four-piece rock band from Stevenage, UK, composed of Jak Melvin (lead vocals /guitar), Max Hopwood (guitar), Josh Maher (bass) and Lawrence Ames (drums /vocals). “Thunder,” the lead single of their self-titled debut EP, is produced by Tom Dalgety–the man behind Royal Blood’s Mercury prize album nomination.
We recently talked with Jak & Max to get their take on alternative culture. Read on to find out more about your next favorite artist.
Comments From The Curating-Editor
The titular lyrics off of Waste’s lead single,”the thunder of my heart” are an accurate description of the group’s sound aesthetic: carrying a captivating ferocity, their driving rock sonics have an achey quality reminiscent of the Arctic Monkeys comparisons, but with a more resonating psych-grit. Complete with subtle hazy atmospherics, enticing guitar flare and a scratchy bass underlayer, Thunder is a stimulating track with a raw yet accessible vibe. It’s a perfect example of Waste’s 5-track EP, capturing a feedback-driven hard rock patina with a modern alt veneer.
What are your top 3 favorite albums that inspired you to get into music?
Jak: Just before we started the band, a friend of mine played me I Sat By The Ocean by Queens Of The Stone Age. I went home and played the album over and over and immediately wanted to write music like that.
Max: The first album that really made me want to pick up a guitar was Are You Experienced by Hendrix, Then I got into Nevermind by Nirvana, and then Elephant by The White Stripes.
What are your fondest musical memories?
Jak: My fondest memories are always from gigs. The big one for me was going along to Dingwalls where The Strokes where making their comeback under the name Venison. I didn’t have a ticket, but I knew a way in around the back of the venue. I chipped my front tooth trying to evade a bouncer but got in, saw the whole show and met the band, it was a great night.
Max: As an artist I would say my favourite memory so far would be playing our first hometown gig. It was packed and we played with some bands we’re really good friends with. As a listener ,one of my favourite memories was being really young and going to the first gig I ever went to. I went with my Dad to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers and James Brown supported at Hyde Park. That really showed me how good live music is and made me want to start playing music myself.
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener?
Jak: At the moment I’ve been feeling very nostalgic and have been listening to a lot of noughties indie, nothing that really influences Waste’s sound but the kind of bands that got me into playing music. Foals, ‘What Went Down’ has been in my ears today though.
What is your creative process like? How do you approach the writing process? Is there a particular message or theme central to your creative works?
Max: We never really have a set process for writing songs, I think the initial ideas come from different sources. Sometimes Jak will have some words and chords written and we’ll start from there or a whole song can come from a riff we jam in the rehearsal room. Sometimes we even write parts as were recording the song. We’re pretty lucky to be in a situation where we can record often thanks to London Road Studios and Richard Maskell!
We’re a firm believer that the cities that artists are based in helps craft their sound. How would you describe your city’s music scene? How has it inspired you into crafting your sound?
Max: There really isn’t much of a scene around where we’re from, especially in our hometown of Stevenage. There some really good bands like Bad Breeding, Kindred Shins, Lunar and Timeless Lizards. As for a scene though its pretty dead, theres been a few gigs in Stevenage which have been really busy, put on by London Road Studios. These only happen every couple of months because of a lack of music venues in the town, which really needs sorting out!
Jak: Yeah, there’s not any real venues to play at in Stevenage, but I think there’s a lot of talent here. There seems to be this community of friends who are all making good music at the moment, you hear one of their tracks and think “wow, I better up my game” so you go away and try to write better tunes. It’s healthy competition where everyone is in it together. We all support each other.
How would you describe your visual aesthetic, in terms of album artwork, music videos, and artistry? How does the music you create contribute to your visuals? Does this extend to your live show experience?
Jak: Our first video was for our debut single ‘Thunder’. The video is set almost entirely under water so it made sense to use a still from the video for the cover so to create a correlation between the two. It’s a really beautiful image, we felt it worked well for the single but wouldn’t work so well for the EP, which is very ferocious in comparison. We decided to use a part of the video that wasn’t used in the final cut for the EP artwork, it looks good and ties the single, EP and video all in together nicely.
As an indie artist in the digital age, social media and streaming are essential tools for marketing and promotion. What do you think about online music sharing, both as a music fan and as a musician? How do you think social media/music streaming services impacts the rising musician?
Max: It has both advantages and disadvantages. I think its generally a good thing. It makes new music easy to access and it has also put the focus onto playing live again as artists aren’t making as much money from streaming as they would through record sales. So more bands are playing more shows which is never a bad thing. I think that its hard to make new music stand out however as the internet is so over saturated with new music.
What is your dream collaboration and why?
Max: Personally I’d like to work with Josh Homme on a record. I think his signature sound would work really well with some of the songs we have and I like pretty much anything the man has involvement in.
Jak: I’d agree with that, recording with him at Rancho De La Luna is the dream.
Which songs are you currently obsessed with? What new acts do you recommend to our listeners? What bands do you believe are your best kept secret in the indie community?
Max: I’ve just been revisiting old albums lately and getting re obsessed, Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age, The Dead Weather albums, Hung at Heart by The Growlers, Indigo Meadow from The Black Angels, Humbug from Arctic Monkeys and the new Night Beats album too. Locally, I think Lunar and Kindred shins are both worth checking out.
Jak: For a new act I’d have to say Lunar too. They’re local lads and they’ve got a new track coming out called ‘Dodo’, it’s such a catchy tune and always stands out live.
What are you currently working on? Any new projects?
Jak: Now that our debut EP is done and dusted I’m really looking forward to writing new music again. We worked really hard on the EP, so while we were making it it was all we thought about.
Max: I think we’ll be looking to put our next release out pretty soon so we’ll be back in the studio writing for sure.