Long Way for Longwave
by Geoff Anstey
Buffalo native Jason Molina talks about the trials of Longwave, playing at Mowhawk Place this weekend
Back when New York rock was obsessed with garage chic and the word the, Longwave emerged with a unique perspective. Instead of tight, focused rock songs flirting with lo-fi, they made expansive, atmospheric rock enamored with shoegaze. It may have been as derivative as many of their the band peers—Longwave’s love of U2 has always been very obvious—but their sound was one of the first of the rock-revival scene to bring some post-punk to the table, beating the juggernaut Interpol to the punch by two years.
By not fitting in, as well as playing solid gigs, Longwave won the attention from the rock-revival’s centerpiece outfit, the Strokes, and in 2002 opened for most of the garage-rock giants’ tour. From there, the band signed to RCA, released two albums, and then got screwed when RCA’s parent company Sony merged with BMG, which caused Longwave to be cut from the label. The band’s future seemed uncertain, with guitarist Shannon Ferguson and drummer Jason Molina forming side-project Falcon, and vocalist/guitarist Steve Schiltz touring as Albert Hammond Jr.’s (of the Strokes) guitarist. But during 2008, the band signed to the New York label Original Signal, released their new album, Secrets Are Sinister, and began a tour of the States that is coming to an end this Friday in Buffalo.
Earlier this week we chatted with Buffalo native Jason Molina about the band over the phone, during his day’s first coffee at a Starbucks outside of Boston University:
AV: After the drop from RCA you guys seemed like you were on a bit of a hiatus for three years.
Molina: Yeah, something like that. People think hiatus, but we were still working, playing shows locally in New York, and the occasional big gigs in other places, like Miami. But we weren’t actively touring, no.
AV: Is the band back a in a groove would you say, with the new album and the tour almost done?
Molina: Yeah, things have been great, there’s a little wrinkle because our guitarist Shannon just had a baby born two weeks ago, so he hasn’t been with us since March, in our big show with Bloc Party, so that’s been a little weird. But the guy we got filling in is a friend of mine from Brooklyn, really young, good kid. He’s really made it easier for us; we don’t have to worry about him doing anything crazy. He’s on it, knows all the songs and everything.
AV: With everything going well, are there any new songs, possible ones you will be playing?
Molina: Oh, man, we’ve been working on old songs since we have the new kid. But there’s a new song that we put out for pre-download on Twitter, like last month, called “Sideways Sideways Rain.” But it depends on how we feel, we might not want to do it without Shannon.
AV: So does that mean there isn’t much new material for, say, a future album?
Molina: Oh, we haven’t even thought of that, to be honest with you. We’re thinking on a record-to-record basis. I think we all want to make another record, but we’re still not done promoting Secrets Are Sinister yet, so I don’t think any of us are thinking that far ahead on the next album really. It was pretty much a struggle to make this record and even to decide if we wanted to do it. So postponing the question of a new album is probably a good thing for us mentally right now.
AV: You guys weren’t sure if you wanted to make Secrets Are Sinister?
JM: Well, yeah, there was definitely talk of breaking up. When we lost our deal with RCA, we had pretty modest expectations, and not even those modest expectations were met. When we got dropped we were left a pile of debt. I don’t think a lot of people even know this, but there was an IRS issue, stuff like that. We fired our manager and from that it was having to find jobs. Basically the whole idea of Longwave was turned up-side down.
Longwave’s tribulations are a reminder of how fickle a mistress the music industry is, and it’s impressive that after RCA practically abandoned them they are still on their feet and touring the country. Time seems to have eroded their shoe-gazing tendencies, and Secrets Are Sinister seems more focused on reverb than distortion. But the new material still displays their knack for energetic, spacey rock and fits well in a set that spans their whole career, which you can get a taste of at Mohawk Place, 47 E. Mohawk Street (855-3931 / www.mohawkplace.com), on Friday, May 8.blog comments powered by Disqus
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