Rogue Wave is getting away from 'Lake Michigan' and heading to Columbia. See them April 20 at Mojo's.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Dukoff

Life's a beach for Rogue Wave

The California-based band made its new album in Deep South.

By Pierce Courchaine | April 16, 2010

Tags: Band interviews Concerts Music


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Somewhere on a Texas back road, Rogue Wave lead singer Zach Rogue struggles to find reception for his afternoon phone interview. After the March release of its fourth studio album, Permalight, and a set at SXSW, Rogue Wave is traversing the country with a stop April 20 at Mojo's. The album, Rogue said, is a lot different than the band's previous albums.

To discover a shorter and faster sound, the band left its home in California and headed to the Deep South, Oxford, Miss., to find the album's producer Dennis Herring.

"I've never worked with anyone quite like Dennis before," Rogue said. "Dennis has a really special studio. It was an incredible place to record. The sound of the rooms are so special."

Rogue said Herring, who has also produced records for Modest Mouse, The Hives and Elvis Costello, was a big reason why Permalight sounds the way it does, as well as the band's record label, Brushfire Records.

"The nice thing with Brushfire is they give us creative control," Rogue said. "They sign artists they believe in. They sign who they like, and they stick by them. It feels like a family-run business."

No matter how much he likes the way Permalight sounds, Rogue said he isn't sure how the critics have taken it, though he assumed there hasn't been as much critical acclaim as some of their earlier albums.

"I've tried to kind of not read into it too much because a lot of time critics write about themselves rather than the music they write about," Rogue said.

As the music business landscape changes, so does the definition of indie rock, a genre Rogue Wave has been closely associated with since the band formed. Rogue said not even he knows if the band should be called "indie" anymore.

"I think the definition of indie rock has been changing for a long time," Rogue said. "Indie rock is not underground anymore. It's like punk. It's a blanket description to describe music."

To Rogue, it doesn't matter anymore if Rogue Wave is considered indie.

"If you ask Pitchfork or whatever, they'll say we never were," Rogue said. "They'll say we were never cool. I don't think I write a song because I want to be indie. I write it because it means something to me."

Whether the band receives applause from the critics doesn't matter to Rogue anymore. He said he loves his job for different reasons.

"It's really cool to be in this moment when we're playing a show," Rogue said. "That was the cool thing about a rock show. I like to go to that experience every night, and still being able to play music and be a part of that continuum is important to me."

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