Meat Wave

Photo by Katie Hovland

This fall, Meat Wave released their second album and first for Side One Dummy, entitled Delusion Moon. We recently spoke with singer/guitarist Chris Sutter and talked about what writing and recording the record was like, as well as what some of its songs are about. We also discussed the album’s cover art, some of the band’s recent tours and their plans for next year. Don’t forget to check out Meat Wave when they play Ian’s Party on Sunday, January 3rd at Double Door.

Bill – Tell me about the writing process for Delusion Moon. When did you start writing these songs and at what point did you realize that you had an album’s worth of material?

Chris – Some of those songs have been around for a couple years now, some since early 2013. “Network” and “Vacation” are pretty old songs. It probably took a year to compile all the material. Writing for us begins with a riff or a phrase or half of a song. Then we play it and record a demo. You kind of sit with that and change what doesn’t stick. Kind of boring to be honest, but there was no realization that we had an album. I think it was more like we had all these songs that we liked, let’s record them and then see where we’re at.

Bill – How would you say that the record’s title relates to its songs?

Chris – Most of the songs happened to be about mass delusion or self-delusion. And I hadn’t even realized it, I was just kind of writing on random people or stories I had heard. Or experiences I’ve had. The last song that was written was “Delusion Moon,” which was more or less a poem about lunar sickness and applying it to today. A lot of people used to believe moon sickness was for real. Which maybe it is…It wasn’t long after that I realized that it was kind of a blanket theme for all of these songs describing delusional people or situations.

Bill – What led to you partnering with Side One Dummy for the release of the album and what’s it been like working with them so far?

Chris – We had heard that the people at the label were fans of our music, so we had a phone call with them and were really surprised at how genuine they were and how much they liked our band. Above all, they said that they wanted to help us and see our vision through. Can’t really ask for much else. They are so chill.

Bill – Delusion Moon was recorded live by your bassist Joe Gac. How would you describe that experience and what do you like best about how the recording turned out?

Chris – It was quick, we did it in an evening. But it was really relaxed and fun, it was just us three and our friend Beavo hanging out in this nice big room on the top floor of our practice space. We kind of did it in two sessions. The first one was really intense and we were trying to rather seriously get it down. Then we kind of partied and loosened up and did all the songs again. I think we ended up keeping a lot of those ones. Joe gets this very raw but very lush sound out of bands. I think it sounds both polished and raw. Just a band playing but being able to fuck around a little bit. There’s no bullshit.

Bill – Where did you get the idea for the record’s cover art?

Chris – My great friend Matt Engers who makes music and art under the name Sophagus painted it. It’s a pretty big painting with a real gold plate in the middle of it. He’s one of the most creative guys I know and he’s always made really cool, weird collages and drawings. So I gave him the album and basically told him we wanted something minimal and handmade and dark. I don’t remember how long it took him but on the day he presented it to me, he blindfolded me and made we wait in his dark living room. Then he began playing the record really loud and told me to take off the blindfold and the painting was hanging on the wall with a crazy strobe light blasting it. He explained to me what the painting meant to him and how it applied to a bunch of the album’s themes. Blew my mind!

Bill – The song “NRA” is arguably more topical now than when it was written. What inspired its lyrics?

Chris – When those awful shootings at Sandy Hook happened I remember reading comments from Wayne LaPierre about how if more people were armed it wouldn’t have happened, training teachers to use guns and all this insensitive bullshit. So I think it was written shortly after that. You see it today. Super cyclical.

Bill – The aptly-titled “Vacation” is perhaps one of the album’s most celebratory tracks. What motivated you to write this song?

Chris – That song is about going to Devil’s Lake. That’s one of my favorite places ever. The idea for the song was to kind of write morbid or negative sounding music with lyrics about being on vacation and not wanting to go home. The subject in the song is more obsessed about vacationing I think. It’s like writing a love song but juxtaposing it with something abrasive or mean sounding. I think that’s funny.

Bill – In terms of the style of music, how would you compare Delusion Moon to your last record?

Chris – Oh man, I’m terrible at this. It’s kind of hard for me to tell. I think it’s of the same vein, maybe just a little looser and varied. The records can be looked at as companions. Delusion Moon is more colorful, a bit more pop and a bit more doom. The first record is like grey cloud rock and the new record is like rainbow rock. I’m a high idiot.

Bill – Earlier this year you guys played Riot Fest, as well as The Fest in Gainesville, FL. You also just returned from a UK tour. What were some of the highlights from all these shows?

Chris – Yeah, and we went to Europe as well. In some ways it has kind of restored my faith in humanity. We just met nice people every day. It’s nice to meet people who are genuine and like music. And every day is insane. You never know what to expect going into a city and being there one day and meeting the people who live there. Everyone is so funny in their own way. It was fun to try to experience a place like someone who lived there would. I just tried to submit to the customs of different places. And this year we got to see a lot of bands we love: Drive Like Jehu, Pixies, Ex Hex, Protomartyr, Iggy Pop. We were super lucky.

Bill – You guys have a long history with Ian’s Party. Not only Meat Wave, but also some of your other bands like Truman and His Trophy and Elephant Gun. What are some of your favorite memories from the early years of the festival and what are you looking forward to most about this year’s event?

Chris – I’m pretty sure I’ve played every Ian’s Party! I think Ryan has too? That is if you include the pre-party, which isn’t a thing this year, but in Elgin the first year I think Strawberry Pegasus played the pre-fest. We were literally the first band to play Ian’s Party. Strawberry Pegasus was my current roommate Frank’s band with our friend Danny. It was pretty outrageous. We did an S&M fest at Clearwater once. My favorite memories are walking down the street in Elgin to get to the other venue on what had to have been the coldest night ever. It’s always painfully cold. And hanging around the Brokedowns dudes who I loved so much but didn’t know them that well at the time, creeping around them and Jim. This year is going to be great. So many friends. It’s just uninhibited reckless happiness but also very loving and mindful and appreciative of each others’ music and friendships. The best time of the year.

Bill – When you look ahead to 2016, what are some the things that the band’s hoping to accomplish?

Chris – We’re about to spend a lot of time working on new music and we’re planning on recording in the spring. I just hope that we’re really happy and satisfied with what we’re making and doing. Keep it interesting. That’s all that really matters in all of this I think. Music is the best.