The last time Zach Rogue and his bandmates in Rogue Wave came to Mississippi, the concert didn't start off too well. Only a few lines into his first song, someone from the front row spit beer right into his face. But no worries, Rogue Wave kept on playing, and strangely enough after such an introduction, Rogue Wave decided they like Mississippi.
The band got its start in California in 2002, when Rogue was just a solo act. He wrote and recorded "Out of the Shadows," then sought out band members through Craigslist. Though Craigslist is typically reserved for finding roommates, it was the perfect tool for Rogue, too. In our interview, he tells me he was more concerned with finding agreeable personalities than skilled musicians. Touring can kill a band, after all, so the dynamic is key.
And the dynamic is good. After Subpop signed the band and reissued "Out of the Shadows," the band went on tour, opening for the Shins. The easily accessible pop hooks and breezy melodies introduced a host of converts to the fan-world of Rogue Wave. The indie folk-pop revival reconvenes at W.C. Don's next Wednesday night, June 22.
Since you wrote the album before meeting your current bandmates, do they ever feel slighted?
They joined the band with the material already done. They weren't looking for projects where they'd be writing all of the material. They heard the record and liked it, so they felt like they wanted to play in that band. There are so many different roles today in a band. One person may be writing, but all members have importance. They do things certainly that I'd never be able to do. You have to know your limitations and strengths
Did you work on the new album together?
They didn't write the songs, but when we were tracking it, it was very much a collaborative recording process. We've been rehearsing these songs for a while. I wrote them, but we collaborate when we arrange and record.
What is different about the collaboration process as opposed to writing alone?
Before, I'd be sitting there with Bill, who I recorded the record with for the last album, and we'd need a bass line. So I'd just write a bass line. This time, there'd be somebody else executing it. It's four times as good because there are that many people who can contribute to the threads of the song. I can be working on a guitar part while someone else works up a bass line. There are that many different styles and energies and personalities. I'm hoping that makes for greater depth and an inherent diversity.
Does the new album have the same sound?
Very few people would say this one sounds just like the last one. I feel like it's a departure. It has evolved in so many ways. We used so many different instruments this time. The breadth of instrumentation has changed. It's not just me with an acoustic guitar. There are pianos and all of these other instruments. There's a richness of instruments on the first record, but it is taken to a more expansive level on this one.
You played in Mississippi earlier this year. What made you decide to come back?
That night at Martin's was a really great night. It started off interestingly with the beer spittage, but we were well received. There were people we had met that had driven long distances to the show. We want to go to communities where people want the music. Robert Arender was really great to us, too.
If you were going to write a song about Mississippi, what would you call it?
I've only been to Mississippi once, so I might not have the authority to say. Oh wait, I'd write an homage to that restaurant Julep. That place is so good. We all loved what we ordered, but we kept looking at each other's plates with envy, too.