Shreddin’ the gnar
Packing his bags and leaving his surfboard behind, Wax Witches’ Alex Wall – very much a moniker, not a band – left his native Australia and travelled to New York to seek new, and ended up creating a delicate masterpiece in the form of his latest longplayer, Memory Painting.
For this, his third self recorded album– mastered by Jim Kissling (King Tuff) –, Wall slides away from his garage roots, shifting focus and ultimately channeling –as the title hints towards – raw emotions into a lucid, dreamy aesthetic. It all stems from personal memories, our own personal time-capsules. We generally like to remember the good and tuck away the bad, but the bad is often where the most compelling narrative stems from. Here, Wall delves deep and sonically captures this with aplomb.
What began as a simple solo project to cure boredom between tours – Wall is also the frontman for Bleeding Knees Club – has swiftly formed into a fully realised vision, and this latest chapter spins yet another dimension in the mix.
This song was inspired by the past when I had a girlfriend. I remembered this time where we woke up and made a tent with the bed sheets to hide under. The sun was shining in through the sheet tent, and it was a really pretty and peaceful moment. I wanted to make the song sound like the feeling of waking up on a nice sunny weekend next to someone. – Alex Wall
Lucy Pogoriler: What made you decide to move to New York?
Alex Wall: I’ve been there a few times on tour, and I recorded my first album there four years ago. I just loved it every time I went, and had a great relationship with the city. I had friends there and I was at a standstill in Australia, nothing was happening, so I threw myself in at the deep end and gave it a go.
LP: New York has a visionary lifestyle.
AW: It’s really inspiring. I come from a really small place so for me to be in one of the biggest cities in the world is quite mental.
LP: How is it being in Australia at the moment compared to how it felt when writing some of the more darker songs about being there, such as Saved from the Grave?
AW: You know it’s actually really good in a lot of ways. The lifestyle here is really good, insanely perfect actually, really outdoorsy, and healthy. A complete opposite of New York, which I needed. Creative wise it’s at a bit of a standstill, there’re a few good bands but not many like minded people.
LP: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard!
AW: Yeah they are awesome, I love those guys! But I live in a small beach city where not much is going on. I do have a pretty good tan though [laughs].
LP: Last time I saw you play was in London at The Shacklewell Arms last year, do you always play gigs in the crowd rather than on stage [laughs]?
AW: As much as possible, it’s more fun. If there’s not a lot of people it’s fun to just be in the crowd.
LP: Is there a particular show you’ve played that stands out for you?
AW: We played a really cool show in the Netherlands at this place called Vera. Like this legendary venue, it was amazing, a beautiful building and totally packed. I didn’t think anyone would come to any of our European shows so it was really cool.
LP: Do you find that there is a difference between the crowds?
AW: Yeah definitely, the European crowds seem not to have an age barrier, all ages will go to shows, whereas in Australia it’s always going to be super young people. The older crowds are definitely there to just see the bands and not party, which over here I think a lot of kids just come out to get wasted and don’t really care about the band.
LP: I’ve heard Aussies like to party.
AW: It’s fun to play to those kind of people, but they wont buy any merch at the end of the show! [Laughs]
LP: You’re signed to Burger Records, how is it working with those guys?
AW: I feel so privileged to be a part of that label. I put my first music out through their Wiener Records sister label, they listened to it and asked me to record some more stuff so they can put it out on Burger and I was over the moon. They are the biggest legends in the whole entire world! It’s so cool over in California, I was just blown away at how many kids were just frothing at punk music and garage music. I remember when my old band, Bleeding Knees Club, started playing we couldn’t get any one to come and listen to garage music in Australia. And now its crazy how many people are all over it.
LP: A lot of people talk about how oversaturated psychedelic and garage music has become. Do you think it has any truth to it?
AW: I do think It’s true. I don’t think It’s a hard genre of music to pick up and play. If someone does it really well and stands out then all the garbage gets tossed to the side. There’s still bands who are doing it very well, like King Gizzard.
LP: How long did it take you to record Memory Painting?
AW: I kind of recorded it over a series of a year and a half, on and off when I felt like recording. I didn’t plan on doing a record it just kind of happened. The last month I was in New York, I rented my friend’s apartment which had a studio, so I just finished it all there. It’s odd because some of the songs are like a year and a half old and the others are just six months old. It’s weird but cool.
LP: You’ve mentioned that you are a visual person, how does this connect to your music?
AW: I don’t have synesthesia or anything like that, but moments and times are really vivid to me. If I hear a song or write a song it’s usually me reflecting on some memory or emotional time of something that I was doing.
LP: This album shifts your aesthetic, it’s slowed down and more layered.
AW: Yeah, I just couldn’t do another garage pop album. There’s enough of that in the world and I’ve done enough of that. I listen to a lot of different music and really wanted to challenge myself to see If I could even do something different. I intentionally tried to put myself out of my comfort zone.
LP: Anything else coming up?
AW: Everything is really up in the air right now. Waiting for the record to come out. Probably do a tour of Australia. I don’t know I’m really enjoying relaxing at the moment and surfing. I missed it when I was living out in the States, but now I get to do it all the time which is awesome
LP: Shreddin’ the gnar.
AW: Haha yeah! [laughs] My favourite bit of music is recording and it’s awesome to just sit down and record and not have to worry about a tour coming up or something like that.
I think I might be coming to Europe at the end of the year, so that’s something to look forward to.