Glass Waves is a St. Louis rock band composed of three long time musicians: Jordan (vocal, guitar, songwriter), Micah (bass), and Nate (drums). "One Day We'll All Float Away" is their first album together, although they've known each other for a while. The band came together in the summer of 2008 and the trio has been recording and playing concerts together ever since. Their music is characteristic of layered guitar textures and melody focused songwriting.
Moods range from landscapes evocative of today's instrumental indie rock to more compact song forms, with elements of no wave, shoegaze, indie pop, and the occasional nod to Bakersfield country. The resulting vibe has as much to do with Dinosaur Jr and Yo La Tengo as it does with groups like Band of Horses and Explosions in the Sky.
We've conducted a tiny email interview with Jordan, the band's vocalist, guitar player and songwriter - there are some excerpts:
FC: Is there a story behind the "Glass Waves" name?
Jordan: The name Glass Waves was what I arrived at trying to describe the sound of these two really cool old (middle 60s) tube amps that I run in stereo in my practice room. I'm not sure how much sense that will make to anyone else, but I think the name suits us.
FC: How this album came together?
Jordan: The album took about 5 months from the first day in the studio through the end of the mastering process. We did most of the basic tracks live in a one day session, and then I spent several weeks on guitar and vocal overdubs.
FC: What is your music background? Who are you and/or your band members?
Jordan: Micah, Nate and I have played together in various
projects off and on since about 2000. When Glass Waves first started rehearsing, it had been a few years since we'd all played together. We got through a few songs of our first rehearsal and everybody had a big grin. The chemistry of a group that has been together for a while was there, but we had each gained some new perspectives in the interim. I've been playing guitar since I was a kid. (...) I've done some session work, both live and in the studio. That's something I enjoy, too. It's nice to be able to stand back from center stage and just focus on playing guitar for a gig or a session.
Micah has lent his bass playing to a number of projects as well, doing some upright work around town. He's also the percussionist for a dub reggae band in St Louis called Dub Kitchen.
Nate recently moved back to St Louis from Chicago, where another project he's involved in, The Personals, just finished and are about to release an album.
FC: Could you talk a little about your songwriting process?
Jordan: My songwriting style tends to focus on a particular feeling or mood. Sometimes that will translate into a story like in the song "To Last". Other times the lyrics will be evocative of a mood. Songs like "The City" and "Abbey" both center around a particular state of mind without, hopefully, being too literal. There are also a couple of songs that are more topical on this album. The inspiration for a song like "Virginia Tech" is probably obvious from its name. I wrote that song on the day of the shooting at VA Tech (took me a while to release it, obviously). After hearing the reports, I kept thinking about what the people living through it were feeling. I ended up at the keyboard playing a few chords and the lyrics pretty much dropped into my mind fully-formed, written from the point of view of someone in the room during the shooting.
FC: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
Jordan: My music collection pretty much runs the gamut. As a kid I loved the Beach Boys (still do). I went through a couple of years of high school listening to Stevie Wonder's records from the early 70s almost exclusively. I don't know if his influence is very obvious in our sound, (obviously my vocal style is totally different) but I'm a big admirer of the musical textures he made during that time in his career. My fascination with different guitar sounds is probably more apparent. I love the layers of guitar in the "shoegaze" sound as much as I do the layering of acoustic, telecaster and slide found on older country records. It may seem like an odd pairing, but, to my ears, some reverb-drenched fuzzy guitars sound just right against a super chimey, clean country tone. Non-musically there are a lot of visual artists I identify with and have learned from. Our cover art is a bit of a nod to Mark Rothko, whose aesthetic I think about a lot when I'm recording. In his paintings he'll balance two or three shapes just right so that they all start to seem to float and move back and forth in depth. For some guitar parts I'll try to imitate a sense of that by having a few simple parts layer against each other to create a greater sense of depth and scale.
FC: How did you find out about CC licensing and why did you decide to use it for your album?
Jordan: CC licensing was the right choice for us for a number of reasons. We knew we wanted to focus on distributing our music on the web, and that we wanted it to be as easy as possible for music lovers to get to know us. It was also important to be able to retain commercial licensing rights in the event we want to license for TV, film, video games, etc. The choice to allow derivative works (distributed under the same license) was an easy decision, too. I'm looking forward to hearing our sounds re-imagined and remixed by the community of creative people on the web. (We'll be releasing unmixed multitrack files of some of our songs sometime this summer for people to remix.)
FC: What's your outlook on the record industry today and where do you see it go in the future?
Jordan: I'm really excited about what's happening in music today. As a music lover, I feel like I'm living in the middle of a renaissance. So many people are creating music, and access to it all is really easy. I think music is as healthy as it's ever been. The music industry is another matter. I understand why the establishment industry wants to resist giving up their monopoly on the ears of the world, but there's no doubt in my mind that their business model is going to have to change dramatically to remain viable. Unfortunately for them, I don't think they're adapting quickly enough to keep up with the explosive growth of independent musicians, labels, and fans who don't care whether or not a group is obliged to Sony or Warner Bros. The good news to me is that the power is transferring into the hand of musicians and fans, and groups like Nine Inch Nails are showing everyone that you can still make plenty of money working with your fans rather than against them.
You can see Glass Waves performing in various music venues all around St. Louis this summer, but the band is especially excited about their performance on July 13th with Adam Franklin (of Swervedriver) at the Firebird. Jordan wrote to us in an email: Adam's music has been a huge inspiration to me and Glass Waves from his Swerverdriver days, through his work in the project Toshack Highway and his most recent release under his own name Adam Franklin & Bolts of Melody.
It looks like it's going to be a fun show!
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