INTERVIEW | Keeping Up With Microwave
Over the last handful of years, Microwave has moved stealthily but never retreated to the shadows. When a global pandemic hit shortly after the release of their most recent full length album, they took it in stride and found a through line between the content of what they had written and the apocalyptic state of the world. In the years that have followed, the band has been making music on their own timeline amidst a touring schedule that has gradually returned to normal. We sat down with them for a quick interview this past summer to hear more in their own words.
Micki: How are things? How was Europe?
Nathan: We finally got to go to the UK! On our third rescheduling, and it was sick – All the shows [except two] were sold out and they were like, banger shows. We were with Can’t Swim, we shared a van with them, so it was really fun. It was our sixth time touring with them and our third time in the UK.
Micki: I want to ask about Death is a Warm Blanket as the newest record although it’s been out for some time. I know COVID made it so that after it came out, you didn’t get to tour on it much but I’m curious – With all of that, how was it received? Have you been pleased with the response?
Nathan: It definitely did a number on the album cycle a little bit, but also I feel like it was very on brand of an album cycle occurrence because the album has, like, apocalyptic vibes or something. It fit really well in 2020 for me. I was like, “Perfect, this is just like the album!” So in a way, it felt like a synchronous thing.
Micki: Over the last year, you guys have put a couple singles out that haven’t belonged to a larger album or EP and I’m wondering how the writing process is different when working on standalone songs as opposed to fitting things together for a cohesive album?
Nathan: Yeah – Well, I think the idea is that it will be part of a bigger release that’ll come pretty soon here, but we definitely approached the songs kind of one song at a time over a long period of time. We had all the time in the world because of the pandemic, but it was more or less the same approach! I mean, every song is a little different – How it starts and how the writing process is for it.
Micki: So, what about this new cohesive thing that you have coming out sometime in the near future, what’s the vibe?
Nathan: It’s chill and trippy and stuff. It’s going to be very chill. I mean, it’s not all chill – There’s a balance of chill and unchill. But it’s generally chill. Probably the chillest we’ve ever been, anyway.
Micki: Wow, that sounds great. Yeah, I think each album has been a little different than the last which is pretty much the goal, right?
Nathan: Yeah. We spent the pandemic listening to a lot of Frank Ocean. It just kind of fit for me, you know? Throughout 2020, I really discovered it and I was like, “Damn, this is the greatest.” I think there’s some influence from that. We tried to make weird noises and stuff. Still TBD, the actual release schedule, but there is more music to come. It was a slow roll out, which I think fits the thematic vibes moving forward with the future releases, lyrically and stuff.
Micki: Recently there was a re-release of Much Love with new album artwork and some acoustic tracks. What sparked that?
Tyler: We really just wanted to have a different cover. Wesley hasn’t been in the band almost since that album came out, so [the new album artwork] is kind of just an interesting aesthetic I guess.
Nathan: The artist, Godsteeth – Been a big fan of his art for a long time, and I thought that Much Love is a darker album than the original album artwork leads on. And the original album cover was sort of an ironic thing – At the time it was like, “This is funny to do this.” But [I thought], maybe a darker artwork fits the content [better].
Micki: In terms of lyrical content, I feel like the lyrics are very personal and very specific which makes me wonder: As time passes, what is it like to perform songs about things and people that don’t resonate with you anymore?
Nathan: I feel like the meaning of the songs change over time. Like, the same way that you can find things synchronously in your life where you’re like, “Oh, on this date 10 years ago, this happened – That’s so synchronous.” I feel like over time, the songs come to mean different things. You have new experiences also that it’s like, you could have literally written the song about that new experience and it feels like a thing that comes back up. Like astrological shit or something. So it kind of redefines its meaning over time.
Micki: Lastly, can you tell me what the last album you listened to from front to back was?
Tito: Last couple days, it’s George Clinton’s new album.
Tyler: This is probably going to be unexpected, but Lenny Wilson’s new record, Bell Bottom Country. The drums are so tasteful on it, they sound so fucking good. The musicianship and the choices they make instrumentally – I’m, like, so impressed by it. The guitar licks are fucking awesome. Lots of twang to it.
Tito: I really like the new SBTRKT album. Toro y Moi was on it, Sampha. It’s a great album.
Nathan: I think the last one I listened to was The Open Door of Pain Ignored by Puddle Splasher. They’re a friend’s band, they’re from New Jersey. It’s like a Pedro the Lion vibe or early Radiohead. They’re sick.
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