Wavves’ Nathan Williams on Hip-Hop, Blunts, & Keeping Busy
Nathan Williams, the skinny frontman of San Diego noise-pop band Wavves, has built his musical career around a sort of slacker aesthetic—propped up with the morning-breath photo shoots, skateboarding, a very committed love of the sweet herb, and first-take who gives a fuckery that’s made up the bulk of his three-album catalog.
And though I buy that the guy is probably skilled at FIFA 2012, it’s obvious that Williams, 24, is getting up from the couch these days. His forthcoming EP, Life Sux, will be followed by a double LP in early 2012. He’s been hired to contribute songs for the unfortunately named MTV show I Just Want My Pants Back. And then there’s his rap production work, a passion side project that has Williams in talks with Prodigy from Mobb Deep. Whoa. I had to ask him about that during our recent interview at New York’s East River Park.
A lot of people perceive you as a bit of a slacker. You sing about it in many of your songs. But you recently tweeted about working a 15-hour day. I was making a video for the song “Bug” from our new EP. We started at 7am and ended at 10 at night—then I went home and started immediately working on the songs for the [MTV] show for another three hours. It doesn’t start to feel like work until you get these sort of days. But if I am going to continue doing something that I love—which is making music—I’m going to have to continue working hard.
This new show is basically about young people fucking in Williamsburg. What is going through your head when you’re coming up with the soundtrack? That is not really what’s going through my head. I’m trying to write songs that go with the timeline of the show. Following the mood, not really about people who shop at Urban Outfitters and fuck on the weekend.
What’s the show about? It’s basically about a guy who is having trouble with women, but hooks up with this girl and ends up losing his pants. The search for the pants is a metaphor.
Do you think he will find this woman or these pants? Well, the show is based on him finding the girl, so I guess he won’t find the girl. If it were my show, I would tell you he finds the girl and she gives him crabs.
On the new EP there is a song written about meeting Dave Grohl. Have you met Dave Grohl? I have not met Dave Grohl, but the song is a fictional song about two people’s quest to meet Dave Grohl. But, in contrast, I would love to meet Dave Grohl. I predict I will meet Dave Grohl in the next two to three months.
What will you do when you meet Dave Grohl. He lives near you in East LA. I just want to play music with him. That would be cool. Or just get drunk with him. Drunk on a golf course.
Let’s talk about rap. You’re a big fan—you just did a TV performance with GZA on Fuel TV. We have a mutual friend and he had mentioned us to GZA—and he seemed excited at the opportunity to play. I grew up listening to Wu-Tang Clan, and still do. So it was really cool. We got to hang out for a little bit and said it was the best he’s ever played “Liquid Swords” with a band. It really was a childhood dream.
And you might be working with Prodigy of Mobb Deep! Well, he just got out of jail, so we are only kind of talking about it at this time. He had heard a beat that I made and was like “I need to find that kid that made it. “
And, to be clear, you were Nathan Williams in this context, not the dude from Wavves… Yeah, it was something that I did and my friend took it upon himself to send it to Prodigy. Like GZA, I had grown up listening to Mobb Deep. It’s crazy. So we will see. We are just talking at this time.
What were you thinking with that beat? I actually had Prodigy in mind—like what he did with Alchemist on Return of the Mack. It’s got that cocaine, Peruvian rap thing going on. Lots of bongos. We will see if it works out. If it does, I will be stoked. I’ll just hang out and smoke a blunt with him.
So it’s clear that you are a fan. Since I was a kind I’ve been a fan. I can remember recording The Chronic and Doggystyle on my tape recorder and my parents wouldn’t let me listen to it. I had the radio edit, but was stoked to listen to it.
What have you been listening to lately? A lot of Curren$y. I like the soul tape that Fabolous just did. I like Watch the Throne. I like Drake “Headlines” a lot. I love Frank Ocean.
And you’re planning on a LP for 2012. What the story? It’s going to be a double LP, out in late-January.
What does a double LP mean? It means a shitload of songs. It’s building on the themes from Life Sux. Building on the lives of these two people and telling a broader story. There will be interludes and it will never stop. It will all flow.
King of the Beach was certainly not like that. No, but my first two albums were. The thing with King of the Beach was the producer had a stricter vision. And I was in a record contract and they said they were going to drop me and end my career.
No shit. That record is great! Yeah, it is. I think Dennis Herring is an amazing producer. It was definitely a good record, but on this one we had a lot more control. Steven and I produced it with a friend. And since I don’t have a record this time around, I can do whatever the fuck I want.