The decor of the Eagle Rock home Nathan Williams shares with his girlfriend, Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino, looks kind of like how his music sounds: fun, a little gritty and tinged with irony.
“I gotta show you these! I got them at a truck stop in Texas,” the Wavves frontman calls
out from a side room that contains, among other things, a Neo Geo 120-1 arcade machine and a stationary bike. Williams emerges with a stack of matted posters, among them Michael Jordan brandishing his championship rings and a shirtless portrait of Usher apparently drawn in pastel. “I want to put them up, but my girlfriend won't let me,” he laments.
He did, however, insist on The Kramer–the large painting of Michael Richards hanging
above the living room couch in homage to Williams' favorite TV show.
“I will kick your ass at Seinfeld trivia,” he declares as he and bassist Stephen Pope–Wavves' only other official member–settle in to watch an episode. I don't front.
“Watching TV is my favorite thing to do. I really, really respect television as a true art
form,” he says, citing The Wire and The Sopranos as other favorites.
It's no surprise, then, that Williams would want to lend his talents to the medium. In fact,
he and Pope just wrapped up a 20-song score for I Just Want My Pants Back, MTV's new comedy-drama about the mating habits of Brooklyn hipsters, premiering in January.
“Mr. and Mrs. MTV have a big piggy bank that they offered me and I said 'Alright, thank
you,''' he says. Scoring was a “fun, natural” process for the San Diego-based L.A.
transplant, but his feelings about the show seem a little more ambivalent. “I mean, I read
the scripts…” He pauses for a second. “I definitely would like to continue scoring for
television or movies, but I'd like to work on something different.”
For someone who won the affections of Spin and Pitchfork with odes to suburban apathy like “So Bored,” Williams has an impressive to-do list: Right now, he's penning the comic book Negative Dad for Vice Comics; submitting beats for Outkast's theoretical upcoming record; and putting out the first recording on his own Ghostramp label, Wavves' Life Sux EP, Sept. 20.
“It's definitely more mature,” Williams says of the EP, which the band co-produced with
Eric Palmquist at L.A.'s Infrasonic Sound. “Honestly, a lot of old Wavves songs sounded
the same, they just rush through and don't slow down,” admits Williams, who now holds
down lead guitar and songwriting duties, but who played all instruments on Wavves'
earlier recordings. But with the addition of other musicians–and no bigger label to
cramp their style–Williams says the band was able to spend more time working on
individual parts. “The process was just so much more comfortable than in the past. They
even have a bong for us there [at Infrasonic],” he says.
The result of that process was six tracks that Williams says are a taste of what can be expected from Wavves' fourth full-length, due out early next year. Life Sux marks a more stylistically confident sound for the band, trading in their typical onslaught of surf-rock riffs in favor of showing some more teeth. “Destroy,” for example, is a high-voltage collaboration with Fucked Up on which Williams' apathetic M.O. is swapped out for some good ol' fashioned screaming (“We haven't played it live yet, but we'll take measures to ensure people don't beat the shit out of each other,” he says). And then, of course, there's “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl,” a song about “two creepy kids” that manages to be both aggressive and irrefutably catchy.
And while, no, Williams hasn't met Grohl (“Yet,” he corrects me. “I'm going to meet him eventually. I mean, he can't not hear that song right?”), he did hang out with GZA when Wavves played “Liquid Swords” with him last month on Fuel TV.
“I've been a huge, nerdy Wu-Tang fan since I was really young. 36 Chambers blew my mind, it was unlike anything I'd ever heard,” he says. So when their mutual PR rep Heathcliff Berru suggested the collaboration, he and Pope jumped on the opportunity. “[GZA] was a really shy, I was surprised. Just like, very grateful. He said he wanted to work together again.”
But with all of Williams' projects, an upcoming tour and plans for a fourth LP, would
Wavves even have time?
“We're really not as busy it sounds,” he says. “We smoke a lot of weed and play golf and