“When I’m driving, I’ll just pull up Voice Memos and sing stupidly into it,” says Wavves mastermind Nathan Williams (at left above). “I’m constantly having ideas, and then there’s a process to it that comes later.” Williams may not think of himself as prolific, but he’s probably the only one. In 2015 alone he released a collaborative album with Cloud Nothings and put out the fifth full-length Wavves album, aptly titled V, which sees him taking the band’s punky brand of pop to infectious new levels. We caught up with the outspoken frontman to learn how he deals with critics and why you should never, ever listen to your guidance counselor.
The phrase “surf music” pops up a lot when people describe your music.
That’s just something journalists say because I’ve lived in San Diego and Los Angeles. I guess my music sounds sunny, but I was never trying to make it sound like surf music. I don’t try to have a reference point for what I want something to sound like. I do like certain surf bands, but I mostly listen to, like, Young Thug. I guess it’s one of those things where people still call me a stoner/surfer/slacker, and it doesn’t really make a lot of sense.
Do your critics bother you?
I try to ignore them, because if I get upset or annoyed, what’s the point? When I first started doing this, I showed my dad something somebody had written where a guy called me a genius. My dad looked at me and said, “Just remember, if you believe that, then you have to believe the negative stuff they say about you too.” After that I realized that in the end it doesn’t really matter. I like to write songs, and it’s as simple as that.
You started this project in your bedroom.
It’s bizarre. I remember talking to a guidance counselor in high school, trying to figure out where to go to college. I didn’t have very good grades and I got in trouble a lot. He was like, “What do you want to do?” I said, “I want to be a musician.” His response was, “What real job do you want to do?” I dropped out of high school, and now I have a real job as a musician, so it just goes to show you.