For Folk’s Sake Interview: The Wave Pictures

For Folk’s Sake: We saw you guys at the End of the Road festival last weekend, do you want to talk us through that?

Dave: Yeah we played a really big show on the main stage, it was sunny and there were a lot of people there to see us, it was really fun. After that we played a little bit with (Hefner frontman) Darren Hayman, and with Jeff Lewis as well so it was a very nice day.

Do you think you were the most popular man at the festival? You played sets with pretty much everybody there.

Oh, I can’t say that can I? But I had fun, I’ll say that.

What about behind the scenes, what was it like hanging around with so many amazing bands?

We’re on tour with Jeff Lewis at the moment so we didn’t see the whole festival – we played Derby and Saturday night in Sheffield so we only arrived on Sunday. I saw John Darniell from The Mountain Goats and I haven’t spoken to him for quite a long time – not because we’ve fallen out, that sounds like we’ve fallen out – just because we’re not like best mates or anything, he’s just someone I see from time to time. And it was nice to see him. It was nice backstage on Sunday, with Jeff Lewis, Darren Hayman, John Darniell, Jason Molina – all these interesting talented musicians all wandering around and chatting to each other, it was great.

What’s it been like touring with antifolk royalty in Jeff Lewis?

We’ve had a very good tour, it’s been wonderful, but we’re very tired today because we haven’t had much rest for about a week. It’s been a lot of fun, we’ve had lots of conversations with Jeff about Hawkwind and Lou Reed, and he’s made us listen to really horrible psychedelic music in the van. We’ve enjoyed watching his shows every night, and his brother Jack and drummer Dave Beauchamp are great people.

Was there one night on the tour, or one performance that particularly stood out for you?

The best after show experience we had was Derby, oddly enough, we had a really good piss up in Derby and that was probably the highlight of the tour, just getting drunk with Dave and Jack and Jeff , but all the gigs have been good. We had a great one last night in Bristol at the Thekla, that was a really exciting show. My Two Toms played first and we enjoyed their set a lot and we had a good set too. It went well – it was the first time we’d played in front of a decent crowd in Bristol, there’s usually nobody there for some reason but because we were supporting Jeff there was a big crowd and they liked us.

Ok, give us a brief run down of how you guys got together

I grew up in Wymeswold (in Leicestershire), the same small village as Franic –  I’d been playing the guitar from when I was very young – and started playing some music with him when we were about 16 or 17. We played in various forms, then I started writing songs and it gradually became the Wave Pictures with me playing guitar, Franic playing bass and whoever we could get on drums – we’ve had loads of different people on drums for us over the years. I left for uni in Glasgow, Franic went to uni in Cardiff and we didn’t do a lot during that time but Franic did meet Johnny Helm, who joined and started playing drums for a bit, and then we all graduated and moved to London. We all moved here a little under two years ago and that’s when we really started playing a lot of gigs. We had this big back story of writing lots of songs and making lots of CDs, and in that time we met Herman Dune, played with them, played with the Mountain Goats, played shows in New York, met Jeff, all kinds of things, but still very occasional activity up until we moved to London. We started gigging a lot and got signed to Moshi Moshi records, and that pretty much brings us up till now really. We’ve kind of been a band for eight or nine years but only been very active for the last couple.

What would you say have been the biggest changes for you in the past 12 months?

I’m not sure there’s too much difference, i think we got more press than we were expecting for our releases on Moshi Moshi, and we’ve done a few slightly bigger shows, a couple of headline shows in London that went quite well but there’s not a huge difference. We’re not hugely professional, Johnny still has a job, we’re still not making a living just from making music yet and that’s the biggest difference – when you’re making enough money from playing shows and selling merchandise and that.

Really? Do you think people would find it surprising that a relatively well established band like yourselves, signed to a well known record label, still have to find day jobs?

We have to work really hard, there’s very little money at the bottom of the business and we haven’t got to the point where we can confidently book a tour and charge enough for each show for us to not need any other sources of income. But i don’t know whether it would surprise people. Even someone like Jeff, whose several leagues above us, has been working very hard for years longer than us and is much more well known, doesn’t have a lot of money compared to, say, what a schoolteacher has. He struggles to make rent unless he works constantly, which is why he’s gigging all the time and working really hard – I don’t know how much money Jeff has, but I suppose what I mean is there’s not that much money in this business unless you’re the White Stripes or something. So it doesn’t feel that different from the last year but I feel in another year’s time maybe we’ll feel like things have come on, but we’re certainly happy with the way things are going. It doesn’t feel like when someone asks you whether it’s gone fast… I’m not sure what’s gone fast or what we would have any feelings about really.

You’ve got a new EP coming out soon haven’t you?

We’ve already put out one called Just Like A Drummer, which kind of goes with the Instant Coffee Baby album songs that were recorded as the same time and in the same place.

But you’ve been back in the studio though haven’t you? To record a ‘green’ EP?

Yeah we’ve just done that, it’s a free download EP – it’s not free actually, you’ll have to pay for it – and that should be available pretty soon, and we’ve also done lots of recordings. We’ve already got another two albums waiting to be put out, were backed up with recordings for the minute.

Do you worry that you’ll fall prey to the same thing a lot of bands suffer from, where they’re touring so much they have trouble finding time to write new songs?

I don’t worry about that because I think it’s different for us compared to a lot of bands – we’re very quick when it comes to learning new stuff. Having a bit of time to write new songs is obviously really necessary and that takes the most time but I think you find time. We tend to learn and record songs very quickly, we don’t tend to second guess ourselves very much or tend to take a long time in the studio or rehearsing so it hasn’t occurred to me to be worried about that yet anyway, but maybe it’ll happen, I don’t know.

What about bands you’re into at the moment, who can you recommend that we have a listen to?

No one really, apart from people who we’ve played shows with who I’ve enjoyed, for instance Jeff Lewis, and I enjoyed My Two Toms last night, when I saw their set. Darren Hayman continues to be a pleasurable live experience I would say, but there’s not a lot of bands around at the minute that are exciting me really, it doesn’t seem like I know of too many – I think if you’ve seen that were playing with someone that’s a good recommendation.

What about bands you’ve come across on your travels we might not have heard of, any suggestions?

No nobody I think – I’m just a really bad person to ask. I’m not that interested in what’s going on at the minute, I’m more interested in music from the past really. Apart from my friends and acquaintances, I listen to their records, but otherwise I listen to a lot of blues, Creedance Clearwater Revival, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, country music and rock and roll, soul music – I don’t listen to a lot of music that’s made after 1975 to be honest. I’m just not the best person to ask, I’m sure there’s a lot of great things going on but I don’t care.