According to a recent press release: “Formed in 2010, Without Waves began writing music with an open ended approach to songwriting. “The music is about balance,” says Lead Singer/Guitarist Anthony Cwan. “We’ve made a concerted effort to allow more vulnerability in the songwriting process, more of a “bring anything to the table” approach.” That same attitude has helped the band create a wildly varied sound with a foundation in heavy metal. After six years, that credo rings true as the band prepares to release their first major label full length with Prosthetic Records.” We get Anthony and Zac to answer our 10 Quick Ones about the new disc and more…
1. Tell us a little about your latest release. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?
Anthony – There are a lot of really cool harmonies in the more melody driven material. “Us Against” features a huge wall of vocals in each chorus. There are at least 8-10 vocal tracks in that section. I love interweaving vocal harmonies. It’s one of my favorite things I get to do in this band when a song calls for it. I remember recording those vocal parts after a terrible day at work a few years ago. I worked a really long day without eating a real lunch (half a pice of 7-Eleven pizza doesn’t count). I was exhausted, but I ended up pulling out my computer and listening to a demo track of “Us Against” we had recorded at a previous rehearsal. All of a sudden the chorus rolls around and I start to hum the first melody. From there, I kept building and building until it was finished. It took about a half hour. It was a fabulous end to my shitty day.
2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?
Anthony – I didn’t realize I wanted to be a musician until I was about 12 or 13. My parents bought be my first guitar out of a JCPenney catalog that year. The minute I picked it up there was no turning back. I remember creeping up the fretboard with my index finger listening to each individual note on each of the strings. I’d have concerts in my basement all by myself. There were times where close friends would join in and we’d pretend play full concerts. None of us really knew how to play yet. Our drumset was made of cardboard boxes and bins. Those were good times!
3. Who would be your main five musical influences?
Anthony – Individually speaking, it’s tough to say. But foundationally speaking, there’s a few that come to mind.
- Devin Townsend changed everything for me in the best way possible. I picked up Strapping Young Lad’s “Alien” in ’04 right after it came out. It was the most brutal, visceral, chaotic and honest record I’d heard in years. Up until that point, I didn’t realize humor could exist in metal. His vocal delivery was so appealing to me, and is still an influence to this day. I love it when singers keep a note behind their screams.
- Dillinger Escape Plan remains a huge influence as well. Musically they have carved their niche. No one else does it like they do. But it’s their attitude I dig the most. I appreciate their DIY nature, punk mentality and their innate ability to take risks both musically and physically.
- Failure is a band I hold near and dear to my heart. A friend of a friend gave me “Magnified” after I heard “Small Crimes” during a house party. I was blown away by how different it sounded from anything I’ve heard before. It was exactly what I needed at the time and highlighted a distinct shift in my music preferences.
- Ministry means a lot to me. I am proud to be from the same city as Al Jourgensen. I read his book a few years ago and really loved the chapters about the early years of Ministry. There’s a sense of lore about the band in this city; all of the crazy stories. It’s a rich history. I remember being about 14 or 15 years old and my guitar teacher loaned me “In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up.” At the time, I really didn’t get it because I was going through a thrash metal phase. But I eventually got there and picked up “Psalm 69.” We covered “TV II” on our previous EP “The Entheogen.” I love that record.
4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be?
Zac – Roger Waters. I imagine he would have quite a bit to contribute.
5. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before?
Anthony – I generally use other people’s band comparisons when describing our band. It’s a more efficient way for a potential listener to get a sense of what we might sound like. The list could go on for a while, but some of those comparisons are Death, Deftones, Dillinger Escape Plan, Tool, and Between The Buried and Me.
6. What’s the best thing about being a musician?
Anthony – For me, it’s the only place in life where you get to truly forget. Whatever rigors you’re experiencing whether it be a stressful job or family troubles, being a musician fixes all of that. You get to lose yourself in the creative process and whatever you make becomes bigger than you.
7. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?
Anthony – I’m probably the first to break out into some idiotic singing. We were on tour earlier in the year driving through Oklahoma City after a show and we stopped at a Denny’s. Above the restaurant there was a giant sign that read “Fire It Up.” It was promoting a casino in the area. The minute I stepped out of the car, I grabbed my phone and recorded us singing Black Label Society’s “Fire It Up.” It was 2:00am and the four of us were singning a BLS song at the top of our lungs outside of a Denny’s in Oklahoma in the middle of the night. Like I said, stupid fucking shit. But certainly not the craziest thing that has ever happened outside of a Denny’s. Oh, and I’m definitely prone to cooking more than my bandmates. In Houston on that same tour, our buddy let us crash at his place and left us with a bunch of quesadilla fixings. I fixed that shit right up.
8. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?
Zac – Ideally I would like to be a part of a team working on ai. It will arguably be the greatest creative accomplishment of all time. Or a South American drug lord. That would be really fun too. I could own a tiger, a plane, and live in a mansion on a mountain. I would probably have a tragic yet romantic ending too…
9. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”?
Zac – Pretty much every time I have ever met a musician that I truly admire. While I’ve never really been “starstruck”, I have been way too candid in the past. I once accidentally insulted the drummer’s wife of a band I LOVE, mere moments after he complimented my eyebrows. It was a strange, awkward interaction.
10. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?
Zac – The Dark Side of the Moon. As for being being part of the recording sessions, I would simply function as a fly on the wall. Occasionally wrapping cables, or making tea to insure no one got suspicious. This record means a lot to me as it does to many others. It’s an audio reminder. As a songwriter it challenges me to aim high and remain honest.
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