Music Wavves


Q&A with Stephen Pope of Wavves

Published on July 2nd, 2013 | by Joe Lawler

With its surf pop sound, Wavves is one of the more distinctive sounds gracing the main stage at this year’s 80/35 Music Festival. Bassist Stephen Pop answered a few questions about the band and showed that Wavves has a bit of hip hop cred as well. Catch them at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Q: Have you ever played Des Moines before with Wavves or any other band?

I played there about 6 years ago when I was playing with Jay Reatard. We played the Vaudeville Mews venue.

Q: What’s the collaborative process like, working on Wavves music with Nathan?

We write a lot more together. We’ll send demos back and forth to each other, come up with stuff in the studio, or just sit around with acoustic guitars for awhile til something makes sense. We don’t have any one particular approach.

Q: How did you end up getting brought into the Wavves fold, and did you have much experience with surf rock before joining?

I met Nathan at the Primavera festival in 2009 when he had his “meltdown”. We became friends and he asked ms to play with him that summer but I was still playing with jay at the time. Later that year I had left Jay and he asked me to do a European tour with him and I’ve been in it since. I played with another band called the Barbaras before Jay that were similar to Wavves style… surf/punk with girl group melodies. It was a pretty natural fit with Nathan.

Q: With “Afraid of Heights” were there new things you guys wanted to try out following “King of the Beach”?

We had the opportunity to try a lot more stuff on this album because we had so much more time and a really great/patient producer. We really took our time on this one to get the sound we wanted.

Q: “Afraid of Heights” was also self-financed, did you feel greater freedom after working with a label on “King of the Beach”?

There was way more freedom working without a label. We had no tome limits and no label heads checking in to see how the recording was going. Since we weren’t being pressured I feel like that helped is be more comfortable creatively.

Q: How did you guys end up working with Big Boi on “Shoes for Running”?

Nate and John Hill had worked together before writing songs for other people. Early in the recording process Nate showed this demo we had and we worked it out a little bit. A little later Big Boi’s producer dropped by the studio and heard the song and said they had to have it.

Q: It looks like the Des Moines festival is your only US show after returning from Europe and before heading overseas again. What else do you have going on stateside before you head out again?

We’ll be in Australia for a few weeks shortly after Des Moines then we have a little tour built around Lollapalooza. After that we’ll have a few weeks off and hopefully get some stuff done in the studio. In September I think we’re planning on touring the US again.

Q: The 80/35 Music Festival that Wavves is playing is being headlined by David Byrne & St. Vincent and Wu-Tang Clan. If you could only see one of those shows, which would you choose?

We’ve actually backed up GZA of Wu-tang and seen them perform in Amsterdam before, so I’d have to say David Byrne just because I haven’t yet… and he’s a legend.

They will be performing on Saturday, July 6 at 3:30 p.m. on the DMMC Main Stage.

About the Author

Joe Lawler covers music and more for Juice Magazine. E-mail him at or follow his updates on Twitter @JoeLawler

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