You probably haven't heard of Seattle's Headwaves, but you will. The four-piece's mix of dreamy fuzz pop and synth-heavy, vocal-driven soundscapes will nail the pleasure points of fans of acts like "Portugal. The Man," and "Beach House." Their debut record will be released in October after they tour the West Coast spreading their delightfully modern, yet essentially timeless sound.
The Source Weekly had a conversation with the band leader and guitarist Larson Haakenstad. Here is an excerpt from that talk.
SW: I wanted to start by asking how the band formed.
Larson Haakenstad: (Vocalist, keys and synth player) Ryan Barber (born and raised in Bend) inherently writes folk songs about love, depression and desire, but he had the urge to make people move in a way folk songs simply couldn't do. He had the need for his lyrics to smoothly float over a lush bed of instruments and heady dance-driven rhythms. Teaming up with myself and producer, Randall Dunn, the sound of Headwaves was created over the period of two years with Chris Mahlstedt on drums, Brett Zadlo on bass.
SW: Was music always a large part of all of your lives?
LH: Well, this could be a super long answer explaining each of our childhoods, but the answer is yep, we all grew up in musical households. Most of us started playing music, writing songs while in elementary school, but our drummer Chris apparently was singing before he was even able to speak.
SW: What are some of your musical influences?
LH: We have a pretty broad range. We love our traditional music of blues, jazz, funk, folk and classical, but this group, it's so much off of fresh crazy sounds of Tame Impala, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Beach House, and modern pop—I mean, club hits like Rihanna-type jams, but also '70s funk and soul.
SW: Your music seems like a perfect blend of late-psych and modern dream fuzz. How did you guys come into that sound? Were you instantly drawn to it?
LH: You know, we didn't necessarily write our music with a specific sound in mind, we only wrote to see how fresh, new and powerful it could be. Ryan was naturally drawn to dance jams of club music, which became our basis. Then, being obsessed with Tame Impala's "Currents" record, I went down the rabbit hole of washy synths and sounds and textures. Plus, during the 18-months-of-writing process, I shattered my collarbone, so I couldn't play my main instrument of guitar. This lent to the creation of very dense layers and textures. Thankfully, our producer made sense of it all, helping us create the gritty, yet dreamy sound we have.
SW: Some of the finest bands in history have come out of Seattle. Is there an added pressure being a newer band from the city to prove yourself early and come out swinging with something different?
LH: The band isn't too worried about the legacy of Seattle—as much as we love our history—but it certainly is inspiring to be around and play with people that have or are currently breaking through to the national scene. More so, we're just trying to create the best sound and experience—both live and studio—that we personally can. We're certainly coming out the gates swinging and are super excited to get our debut record out to the world. Expect to see us on the road.
SW: What's your worst habit on tour that you leave behind once you're off the road?
LH: Well, staying up till 2am, drinking on a Tuesday probably isn't needed!
SW: Do you guys like the bigger outdoor shows or the smaller, more intimate venues?
LH: Super happy with both, super happy with both.
SW: How would you describe a Headwaves show to someone who hasn't seen you before?
LH: Dream pop meets Indie rock in its shortest sense, but to dive deeper, we play with way too many keyboards.
Thursday, Sept. 8, 9pm
Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr., Bend
$6 adv., $8 door