Robbie Waldman’s WAXY may be the next great American rock band to come out of our California desert.
Waldman has a lengthy local history, but he has used this project to truly hone his skills as a writer and performer. In its earliest incarnation, the ever-evolving band had a different feel and vibe: A group with a softer underbelly fueled by acoustic instruments has evolved into a full-blown desert stoner-rock band with a heavy rhythmic infrastructure, poetic lyrics and gorgeous hard-rock vocals offered up by Waldman.
With a collection of memorable, melodic, heavy psych-rock songs under their belts, the members of WAXY have worked their way to the top of the Coachella Valley’s original rock-music scene—which is no easy accomplishment. In fact, the band is about to embark on tours to Australia and then Europe.
The band’s most recent record, Without Any Explanation Why, is a true stoner-rock classic that features guest performances by some of the most pivotal artists to come out of this music mecca we call home: John Garcia (Kyuss, Vista Chino), Mario Lalli (Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson), Gary Arce (Sort of Quartet, Yawning Man), Jesse Hughes (Eagles of Death Metal), Brandon Henderson (Pedestrians vs. War Party, Parosella), Ed Mundell (Monster Magnet, Ultra Electric Mega Galactic) and Alfredo Hernandez (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Brave Black Sea) all contribute their unique sounds to the recording.
Meanwhile, Robbie has been back in his studio (Unit A Recording and Art in Palm Springs; www.unit-a.com) banging out the next record, anticipated to be released in November 2014.
“I’m of the philosophy that a recorded version of a song should be a complete vision for that song, and if you’re making an album, one piece of a larger puzzle,” Waldman said about the recording process. “I think it’s OK to double the vocals, even though that can’t really be done live. I think it’s OK to layer instruments and have small intricate parts that would require 10 people to pull off live.
“In other words, my mindset when it comes to making records is: This is a timeless piece of art. … Splash all the color and shapes you can at the canvas, and see what you get. Sometimes, you get magic; sometimes, you get mush, but the process is what’s key—trying to get what’s in your head out on the tape.”
I heard five new tunes from the upcoming record at a live show at Furst Wurld Theatre in Joshua Tree recently, and I was blown away. The show also included the premiere of WAXY’s new video for “Over Before It Began,” a first-rate production by Bon Nielsen and Blanton Ross. Robbie said more videos, to support the upcoming record, are coming in the near future.
Waldman has used a revolving cast of musicians to help him live out his musical fantasies within the framework of WAXY, including drummers Sean Landerra Carrillo (Lakota) and Mike “Pygmie” Johnson (Mondo Generator, You Know Who, John Garcia); bassist/guitarist Damian Lautiero (a huge part of the live WAXY sound); and keyboardist Jack Kohler (War Drum).
In September, WAXY will take off for Australia as a supporting act on the John Garcia solo tour. John’s latest self titled debut solo album (available on Napalm Records) is getting rave reviews from the press and fans alike.
While Waldman sees the recording process as making art, he views live shows differently.
“Playing shows is about the moment—different song orders, new songs mixed with old ones, etc.,” Waldman said. “Playing live also has the unique ability to move air: The sound actually hits you! There’s nothing like it when the kick drum is thumping you right in the chest. It’s like the difference between seeing a movie versus going to the theater and seeing actors onstage. One is a deliberate, enormous and repeatable act, while the other is different every time simply by its very nature. … When we play live, it’s always an adventure!”
Before John Garcia and WAXY leave for the land down under, desert fans will be treated to a live show by them at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert, at 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5. Also on the bill is space-rock jam-band Fever Dog. Admission is $15, and this show WILL sell out. It has been a good long while since Garcia fans have been able to see a live set here at home, and we will be out in droves to hear his long-awaited desert performance—and to say a temporary goodbye to what could be the desert’s next great band.