Rwake's long awaited album Rest has finally been released onto the ravenous public on September 27, 2011. I spoke with drummer, Jeff, about the reason for the long wait, touring, and the unique sound of Rwake.
The album Rest has been streaming online for a bit for reviewers and punters alike. What prompted such a bold decision to have the entire thing out for public consumption before it was available for purchase? Jeff explains that it was Relapse Records decision. 'They are pretty much taking care of how it's released and stuff like that. They've been doing it long enough now where they know exactly the best way to go about things. Things are going to leak. With the new era of downloading it's just a different world and they've been dealing with it the whole time. So we just trust them. That was their call.' The new era of downloading has changed how this band have done things. After more than ten years in the business, they've changed how they approach the music business. 'Obviously we do what we can to keep it from leaking until we can control it when it comes out. but we've been doing al ot more vinyl and a lot more shirts. I think the vinyl market is picking up quite a bit too because of downloading. Like I think a lot of people who aren't selling a lot of CDs are selling a lot of vinyl and stuff like that. So that's what we are doing. We're selling lots of vinyl and we're actually trying to push a whole different market of unique merchandise like art with music inside.'
This is definitely a unique approach to the music business. It goes hand in hand with the unique sound of Rwake. The new album defies categorization instead bobbing and weaving thru several genres at once and coalescing into a musical experience. 'We want to create an atmosphere, kind of like a dream like state. When we first started playing we would bring out couches and everyone would just lay down and close their eyes and we would play our set. And everyone would be laying down and it looked like Jonestown or something. Everybody is all laid out on the ground and on the floor and on couches. We learned early on from watching bands like Neurosis and Today's the Day and stuff like that you can create these atmospheres with loud music and actually take people and lift them up and bring them down. So we discovered that's what we wanted to do early on. As fun as it is to be a rock and roll band, as much as we like to just rock out, we are just a different kind of band.'
I asked Jeff what it is that influences him when it comes to creating these moods. He responds, 'It's weird because we don't actually write our music, it kind of writes itself. Like a lot of times it'll be the end of the night after a long night of partying and a riff will just show up or a melody will appear. A lot of it comes in the early morning. I'll wake up and a melody will just appear and I run to the recorder, you know. It comes at different times and different forms and different inspirations, but we just try not to force it.'
With such an esoteric approach to writing such a complex album, I inquired about prior musical training. I was astounded by his answer. 'Our guitar player was like in Jazz Bands and he played like school style music for a long time. But everybody else is just like self taught and has heavy classical metal influence, like Master of Puppets era harmonies and stuff like that. That's where a lot of that stuff comes from. Just from early classical metal. But at the same time we are just as obsessed as anybody else. I mean like I have a guitar in every room of my house and I write a lot of stuff on guitar before I even play it on the drums. It's more of like a craft than it is like an actual skill. It's more like a spiritual thing kind of, if you will, than a mechanical thing. For me, playing is like going to another plane.'
Being in a band has challenges enough, but sometimes special challenges arise when working with family. Even though none of the members of Rwake are blood related, their is a huge family vibe. Jeff and vocalist B have been married for almost sixteen years. They are welcoming a new edition to their family in January. Jeff says it's awesome how his band gets along and their is way less drama. 'I love where we are at as far as how we communicate as a band.'
Rwake had a handful of midwest dates in September and a handful in October. I wondered if their was anywhere they'd like to play that they haven't played already. 'We have never played Las Vegas some how. I'm angry about it!' (Lots of laughter ensues.) See, I was expecting like Australia, maybe India, and he hits me with Vegas! Says Jeff, 'I'm trying to be realistic. Actually, if you want to go worldwide, I'd like to play Lake Titicaca in Peru or some of the Pyramids of Egypt. That would be ideal for me, like above the Yonaguni monument off the coast of Japan. Any ancient relic sight would be OK for me.' Think that is unusual? Not so much. The bands most unusual gig was actually in the basement of a sushi bar.
As for hitting the road in support of Rest, Jeff explains, 'We're gonna try to do a little bit in the next few months; October, December era. But because B is, we're due a baby in January so the bigger she gets, the harder it's gonna be for us. Probably most of it is going to be around March of next year, the SXSW era. We'll probably do a lot of heavy touring around that time hopefully. We've done SXSW every year. Unfortunately we had to cancel last year at the last minute. Hopefully they'll forgive us and let us come back because we have a great time there.'
Rest is an amazing album made by amazing musicians. If you are looking for something atmospheric and sensual, this is the must buy album of the season, and yes, I suggest buying the album as opposed to a download as the album will offer you a richness and fullness of sound. Look for Rwake on tour sporadically in the coming months with more dates in the Spring of 2012.