Brisbane’s WAAX certainly have a swagger about them. From the early single “Wisdom Teeth“, to last fall’s “Holy Sick”, it was clear that here was a band that knows how to cut through the noise, literally, and how to navigate a menacing sea, metaphorically.
The new EP Wild & Weak highlights a band with the world at their fingertips. The Holy Sick EP was strong, but Wild & Weak grabs the bullhorn and announces that WAAX is here. The EP is almost a literary experience, with the 5 tracks coming together to weave a tale of emotional struggle and eventually hope. But who knows? The hope may be fleeting.
“I use my hands for the count-down til the numbers slip away
I’ve been wash/repeating for so long, I forgot I had a face
but I can’t get no relief, and I can’t get relief ”
The band fuses a post-punk vibe into the quiet-loud rage of the 90s
The dark depths of the lyrical subject matter pairs perfectly with the ambush of their ferocious hooky punk. The WAAX sound borrows from the grunge of the 90s and like Cobain, the hooks are plentiful. Vocalist Marie DeVita growls and beguiles like Alison Mosshart and Kathleen Hanna while the band fuses a post-punk vibe into the quiet-loud rage of the 90s.
How this band is unsigned is beyond me. I’m thinking it won’t be long now.
Marie DeVita (vocals),
Tom Bloomfield (drums)
Ewan Birtwell (guitar)
Chris Antolak (guitar)
Tom Griffin (bass)
WAAX has been around for a few years, give us the quick notes version of the bands’ history.
Well, the band’s inception was early 2013
We wrote some songs and played them a lot locally
Four piece changed to a five piece
Went through a few line up changes
First ever single released 2014
Started regularly touring from 2014
First EP released 2015
Second EP due to be released mid-2017
Tell us about your hometown scene and how WAAX fits in…
The Brisbane music scene is a super mixed bag. You end up being mates with musos from a variety of different genres. It’s small compared to other states, but just big enough that you can draw a decent crowd to a show. We fit as ourselves – there isn’t many bands that fit a similar genre to us – but the punk scene is growing and it’s great to see.
Tell us about your gear….
Well guitar wise we have two very complimentary but contrasting sounds. Chris has a very bright Fender Tele sound running through a Fender Deville, and Ewan has very dark sound on a Fender Jag running through a Fender Twin. Both has differing pedals to suit their playing styles – Chris is a very staccato and angular player so he uses pedals such as the Strymon Mobius; and Ewan has a very smooth and fluid style with plenty of delay to add ambience. Griff plays a Fender P Bass with a bit of Fuzz and Tom plays a Ludwig Jelly Bean kit.
Describe your sound as a cocktail – what would it be called and what would be in it?
I’d say an Espresso WAAXtini. Double shot of coffee for the energy, some Baileys for the rich emotion – with come cinnamon sprinkles for that cut through taste of angular instrumentation.
If you could pick any time and place to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be….?
Wow. What a question. I’d travel back to the CBGB days in New York (1970s). So many incredible artists were born there – Patti Smith, Television, Talking heads…
If you could tour with any band/artist right now who would that be and why?
I’d love to tour with The Smith Street Band – they’re just lyrically perfect and one of the best punk bands going around. The energy would be epic.
Give us your 10 song playlist for the tour van/bus/plane?
Kendrick Lamar – Feel
Mac Demarco – On The Level
Ryan Adams – Do You Still Love Me
The Lemon Twigs – I Wanna Prove to You
The Smith Street Band – Birthdays
Julia Jacklin – Pool Party
The Football Club – Ivy
Brightness – Talk to Me
Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)
Deftones – Minerva
Speaking of touring, I read an article about the cost of your Holy Sick tour ($5390). I’m sure a trip to North America or even Europe is out of the questions for most indie bands, How do Aussie bands deal with being somewhat isolated?
You make do. Mates in other states helps – especially if they’re in bands too – you learn to share and care wherever you can – it’s widely understood that musicians are broke. You need to be savvy with every cent and pick your moments to let loose. I’ve learnt that Australia is small – we all know each other and are on this island together – so we just give it our best.
Give us two essential books to read.
Patti Smith – Kids
Damn Good Advice – George Lois
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you…
At gigs; drawing; working on new art for the band; song-writing; watching Seinfeld and tending to my plants.
What’s up for the rest of 2017?
Well, the EP comes out on Friday June 2, then we’re on the road from June 30 – Aug 19…then I have no idea – probably head back into the studio and start cooking up a new record!
Photos by Luke Henry / Savannah Van Der Niet