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Rogue Wave
Wanted: Like-minded individuals, must rock

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: Jan. 26, 2005

Rogue Wave
w/Beep Beep, Two Gallants
Jan. 28, 9 p.m.
Sokol Underground
13th & Martha

There is almost a serendipitous nature to Bay Area indie band Rogue Wave, both in its music and origins.

First, the music: The band's debut album, Out of the Shadow, released last year on Seattle super-indie label Sub Pop Records, fits in with the stable of sunshiney, easy-going bands like The Shins, Iron and Wine, The New Pornographers and The Kings of Convenience -- i.e., the kind of bands you'd find on the Garden State soundtrack. The common denominator is feeling-groovy acoustic guitar rock that takes its lead from classic Simon and Garfunkel, and there's plenty to be found on Rogue Wave's debut.

But to call Out of the Shadow a "band album" would be a mistake. Frontman Zach Rogue wrote, recorded and released the CD in 2003, before he even had a band. The record became a sort of calling card when he began the process of pulling together his mates.




"There's this thing here called Craig's List. It's community-based want ads on the Internet where people can find an apartment, a job, a cat," said Rogue from his home in Oakland, California. "I posted an ad after I finished the record. I didn't say what instruments I wanted; I just wanted to be around like-minded people. So I said, 'If you like music by these bands…'"

On the list were The Pixies, Nirvana, Yo La Tengo, The Kinks, The Who. He sent copies of his CD to respondents, but at first didn't like the results. "I was meeting people that were kind of… freaks," he said. His process called for setting up meetings in bars to simply discuss music. "When I met Pat (Spurgeon, the band's drummer) I knew right away he was the right guy by how he talked about The Who.

"It was kind of like dating. These are people I will be very intimate with. In addition to being open to different musical directions, it had to be someone who I want to be stuck in a van with for months."

Before long, Rogue found the rest of the band: Sonya Westcott on bass/vocals and Gram LeBron on guitar/keys/vocals. "When we met as a band the first time, it felt strange," Rogue said. "We had a connection right away. It was very right, and when we started rehearsing, it sealed the deal."

Serendipity indeed.

They went out on their first tour last January with Mates of State, and then were asked to open for Spoon at San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium in front of 2,000 people. "We never played for more than 100 before that," Rogue said. "Afterward, we had a rush of energy, and said, 'Wow, we can be in a band together.' It's something all of us had wanted all of our lives."







"It was kind of like dating. These are people I will be very intimate with."








"I figured I could never have that gold in my veins."



It didn't take long for Rogue Wave to catch Sub Pop's attention. While on tour with London band The Clientelle, a representative from Sub Pop dropped in at their Seattle gig. "We hadn't been playing long, and you always hear that someone from a label is showing up and figure it's not going to happen," Rogue said. "I forgot about it. When we got done, we saw the guy, but I couldn't hear him talk because (Vancouver band) Destroyer was playing. I didn't expect anything to come of it."

Turns out Rogue's calling-card CD had already made the rounds at the Sub Pop offices, and everyone dug it. Next thing you know, label head Jonathan Poneman was flying down to watch the band play in San Francisco. A record deal was offered, and almost immediately Out of the Shadow was remastered and rereleased by the label. For Rogue, it was a dream come true.

"That was the first record that I had felt okay giving to my friends," he said, "and I was happy with that accomplishment alone. Sub Pop and big labels like that seemed far away to me. I figured I could never have that gold in my veins."

Next up is recording the first real album with the entire band. "We've been rehearsing a lot for the next record and beyond," he said. "We're collaborating more and more. I want the door to be wide open when we step into the studio."

But first, the band has to continue on the road. The tour that brings them to Omaha Jan. 28 is the longest road trip they've ever endured together -- running through mid-March. "It'll be exhausting, but we'll help each other through it," Rogue said. "On tour, the concept of time begins to alter, and everything starts to shift. Only the people in the band know what you're going through. And they're the ones you'll share it with for the rest of your life."

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Published in The Omaha Reader Jan. 26, 2005. Copyright 2005 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.