WIVES are a New York-based post-punk band who have been covered by the likes of KEXP, NPR, and The 405. We asked frontman Jay Beach about their upcoming album ‘So Removed’ on City Slang, how WIVES came to be, influences, getting “blitzed” on absinthe in Paris, and more.
COUNTERZINE: How are you today?
Jay Beach: Very well, thanks.
CZ: Tell us a little about WIVES.
JB: We’re a bunch of friends who started a band, kinda like a collective.
CZ: How did the WIVES project come about?
JB: WIVES rose out of the ashes of another band who didn’t show up to their recording session, so we all got together and lightning struck.
CZ: So you’ve got your debut album So Removed out on City Slang in a couple months. How was the process of writing and recording it?
JB: We had to sneak into studios late at night and borrow equipment so the record took about a year to finish, the actual amount of recording time per song is very low , as we had to usually “hit it and quit it.” Our recording aesthetic is generally analog with some exceptions, and our longer tunes are usually the result of a one-take “lightning in a bottle” improvisation.
CZ: What are some of the broad themes you were looking to explore? What is the ‘story’ behind the album?
JB: The album taken as whole is the story of the narrator’s psyche reflecting itself off modern society as an entity, which can be beautiful but also ugly. It is an existential work in the line of Camus, Kierkegaard, Celine, and Bukowski. Our gods are Maggie Nelson & Marc Bolan (RIP).
CZ: Based on the early singles, we’d describe your sound broadly as strung-out post-punk in a similar vein to Sonic Youth. At the same time, “Workin’” reminded us of Australian garage rock bands such as Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Boomgates, and “The 20 Teens” boarders on an upbeat modern youth pub rock anthem, almost a centennial take on Springsteen. What and who would you say are some of your foremost musical influences, past or current?
JB: We opened for Shame in Brooklyn and dug their sound, they were super chill & a good hang. We like sound and we like songwriting, Sonic Youth is huge for us as is Kim Shattuck, and as always — T. Rex. We also dig the Black Angels and Angel Olsen. Angel bands mostly, also the song “Angel Band,” and “Drunken Angel” is a real fab tune. Lucinda Williams is a beast.
CZ: You’re New York-based, which given your style we’d imagine you’re rarely hurting for bills where you’d fit nicely. At the same time, since post-punk is so prevalent, it can be difficult for bands to stand-out. We’ve mentioned a few things that caught our ears and the variety between your early singles alone is impressive. How much of WIVES is a result of unconsciously filtering your inspirations through your voice vs. making a conscious effort to distinguish yourselves? Is it both?
JB: Hmm. I would say it’s mostly the former.
CZ: Where and when might people be able to see WIVES live?
JB: WIVES has a show at Rough Trade 10/3, and in Philly 10/5, then we’re headed to the West Coast, then to Europe. Or come peep around Bushwick or Ridgewood, we do a lot of house shows and the like.
CZ: What was your favorite artist or band that you’ve played a show with so far?
JB: Probably Cherry Glazerr. Although we did a show with Stonefield and they were siiick.
CZ: Do you have a favorite/craziest road story? Where was your favorite place to play?
JB: France was bonkers. We heart France. The first night we headlined a festival in Nantes and there was a sea of people crowd surfing and completely losing their minds. Then in Paris we drank a whole bunch of wormwood absinthe and played one of the best shows of our life… Not sure the wormwood did anything psychedelic, I feel like absinthe just gets you super blitzed.
CZ: If there was just one thing you wanted everyone to know about WIVES that hasn’t been covered, what would it be?
JB: WIVES is the truth.
WIVES’ ‘So Removed’ releases October 4th on City Slang and is available to pre-order here now. Be sure to follow the band on their website, Facebook, and Instagram to keep up-to-date leading up to the release.