Minor expectations, major opportunities
Welcome to the wonderful pop-music backlash. And now, introducing Longwave.
Thanks to the bubble-gum pop industry plummeting faster than Christina Aguilera’s underpants, a ton of indie-sounding rock bands are getting cracks at major label deals.
Insert sigh of relief here.
One of the latest bands providing jolts of inspiring rock ‘n’ roll — in the same manner as Flaming Lips, The Strokes and Coldplay — is the latest New York City band and RCA Records investment, Longwave.
Now hold on a second, this is not another Strokes-French Kicks-Yeah Yeah Yeahs retro garage-rock band from the Big Apple; that is, unless they change their name to The Longwaves.
Longwave, which plays at St. Petersburg’s State Theater tonight and Orlando’s Social Sunday, is an indie-style rock band in the vein of modern-day U2 and Bends-era Radiohead, with a touch of NYC-cool in the mix.
“There are two ways to look at this,” said front man Steve Schiltz. “First, RCA signed us expecting a certain thing with this record, and I feel like we did give it to them. They’re not expecting us to sell five million copies of this record — just enough to recoup what they invested into us. The other way to look at it is that we’ve been recording songs with triangles and glockenspiel and break-drums and whistles, and we feel like, ‘I can’t believe someone is paying us to do this.'”
The alt-rock quartet, including vocalist/guitarist Schiltz, Shannon Ferguson on lead-guitar, Dave Marchese on bass and drummer Mike James, signed with RCA to make a second full-length record. Their album, The Strangest Things, was made after a much publicized support-slot on an extensive tour with those infamous NYC darlings, The Strokes.
The band scored one of the most talented producers in the industry in Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips) to help them make the major label jump. Both of these moves set the band up for a barrage of comparisons.
“For some reason, I can talk all day about Dave Fridmann,” Schiltz said. “It’s better than answering questions about being on tour with The Strokes.”
Fridmann didn’t jump at the chance to sign on for the new Longwave album. In fact, it’s quite possible he didn’t even know who they were. It took some backdoor scouting, of sorts, by the band to make the Fridmann-Longwave connection happen.
“When it came time for us to do this record, everybody asked us who we wanted to do our record with. The only guy we could think of was Dave Fridmann,” Schiltz said. “Coincidentally, our manager only actually ‘knew’ one producer, and that was Fridmann.”
Unlike The Strokes comparisons, associations with the Lips are more substantial and, consequently, welcomed. Longwave’s music is comprised of Schiltz’s Ian Curtis-esque brooding vocals against spooky guitars and crunching drums, which are flooded through with a sonically-imaginative soundscape.
That was one of the reasons the band sought out Fridmann, hoping that he could help the band solidify its own dream-rock sound as he did with the Lips’ records.
“He turned out to be great,” Schiltz said. “He allowed us to really focus on what we wanted to do and helped us shape an identity with the songs. It’s a lot better of a record for that reason.”
There is a realization with the band that they have been given a chance not many other bands can even dream about. And it is that kind of artistic freedom which can lead Longwave down musical paths the guys used to only hear on their Flaming Lips records.
“We’re not being artsy for the sake of being artsy,” Schiltz said. “We’ve been working at this for years, and this makes us really happy.”