I will admit it took me a long time to write about local Sacramento Melodic Psychedelic Doom band (WANING), I actually started this back in May 2013. However, it wasn’t because I didn’t have anything to say about this band, mostly it was because I had so much to say, and I wanted to somehow find a way to convince people to check them out. This is a true underground DIY Sacramento band that I have much respect for. They have been creating and developing their sound since 2007, and have done a lot of work to release 6 E.P.s consisting of live recordings and self-produced ones. In my opinion they have not been given the attention they deserve here in Sacramento. I often see joking Facebook posts by the band making light of what it would take to get popular in Sacramento, and honestly Sacramento is such a finicky town and it is difficult to find your crowd. As an example, just recently the Band Deerhunter came to town and played an amazing and brilliant set! Just prior to stopping in Sacramento they played a huge gig to thousands at the FYF Fest in Los Angeles, and in San Francisco to a sold out crowd at the Great American Music Hall. Here in Sacramento there was a chance to see them in an intimate setting, of course the show did not sell out, people left before the set was over, and most of the crowd had traveled from out-of-town because they couldn’t get into the S.F. show. If I have anything to say to (WANING) in regard to their feelings towards not getting noticed in this town, is that it happens to all bands here, Sacramento is just weird and very hard to predict, but know that there are people who follow and appreciate your music!
I would personally describe (WANING) as thinking music, you can drift off as you listen to it, its music that has many layers of sounds within the songs, and you can tell a lot of work has been poured into each song. It’s so much more that the simple pop music that enjoys mainstream attention. It’s dark and heavy, and full of carefully crafted journeys. My favorite album of theirs entitled ‘Broken Path’ was released on the San Luis Obispo based record label Television Records in early 2012, this album includes a song entitled “The Oracle Oak”. I chose to highlight this song, not just because its my favorite, but also because it’s a well-developed song that takes you from a daydream like state and towards the end, it tears into you churning up the energy inside, urging you to thrash about (personally, I would say it’s what the song ‘Fluorescent Grey’ by Deerhunter would have sounded like if they were a Melodic Psychedelic Doom band). The song starts out with a simple guitar, opening up into gushing heavy slow churning guitars, mixed with a delicate keyboard. Susan Hunt does a great job with the vocals creating an airy feeling. In the background is a quiet unassuming bass, with technical sounding drums that move from providing accent notes, to a more open big spacey sound. This short 2 minute and 34 second song on the album is then followed by an amazing 10 minute and 21 second song called ‘Queen Of Bees’, which I would also like to point out because, for me it’s a rarity to see a band in Sacramento even attempt to write a song that’s 10 minutes long and then play it live, and I love it!
Back in May 2013 Jim Willig answered a few questions I had about (WANING). He answers questions about the band’s history, the struggles they face in the Sacramento music scene, the difficulties of recording, and what their plans are for the future. So please, take some time to get to know this very talented band from the darker side of the music scene in Sacramento. Get out to a show and appreciate their talent in a live setting, all I know is that if they ever left and played gigs in the Bay Area, they would probably never come back because it just seems the bay appreciates their local music scene so much more.
Again, (WANING) is fucking rad! They are dark and heavy, and so good at what they do!!!!! Check out their current posted music at http://waning.bandcamp.com/ and be on the lookout for an upcoming new release – which will be a concept album entitled ‘The Funeral Mountains’, based on a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale (this will also be the first time the band has recorded with both Ian Black and Ben Carpineta). Of course it will also be completely self recorded and produced!!
SacIndieMusic: How did you choose the band name (WANING)?
JIM: I think it was just floating around in my head for a while. Susan and I had a show booked and we needed a name. The parenthesis began as a way to be kind of artsy, but they stay to differentiate from the Swedish band called Waning.
SacIndieMusic: How many members have you had in your band? Who, and how many people are in your current line-up?
JIM: The current lineup is Susan Hunt – Keyboards/vocals, Jim Willig – Baritone guitar/vocals, Ian Black – Bass/Vocals, Benjamin Carpineta – drums. We’ve had one other bassist and two other drummers in our history.
SacIndieMusic: Is everyone from Sacramento,CA?
JIM: I (Jim) grew up in Cobb, a miniscule town in Lake County, CA. Susan is from Rancho Cordova. Benjamin grew up in the Sacramento Area, and Ian lived in around Oceanside before he came up here.
SacIndieMusic: What are your backgrounds in music?
JIM: My background starts with school band playing clarinet. I’ve also played guitar in various punk bands (most recently The Shenanigoats), I played some drums in high school. I’ve done a lot of time in the noise scene as well. Also, i moonlight as a bassist for a Huey Lewis cover band called Black to the Future (this is not a joke). If you can believe it, this is Susan’s first band. She’s played instruments all her life (viola, piccolo, keys) but I pushed her into the void. Ian’s played in a bunch of bands in Southern California. Most recently he was in the Sacramento industrial metal band Nilshiphter. He’s one of those people who is better at every instrument than pretty much anyone else I know. Benjamin has played keyboards in some bands in high school. He sung in a band called Drop the Sun, and currently drums in Kyntallah and Cimmerian Aeternum, aside from our band.
SacIndieMusic:What draws you to the style of music you make?
JIM: As pretentious as this may sound, I’ve found metal, specifically the more esoteric subgenres (doom, black metal, “post-metal”) activitesmy spiritual side. That extends to other genres too, but metal is so elemental, it is easy to convey a sense of vastness – like staring at the night sky in the woods where I grew up. Metal is an incredibly malleable genre too. I don’t think people realize how diverse the genre is.
SacIndieMusic: Both you and Susan have been making (WANING) music together for the most amount of time…..How have you grown/changed as musicians over the years that you have been making music together?
JIM: We started out as an ambient/noise duo, but we weren’t getting the full scope of our feelings out of that. Going to a rock-based format has been quite demanding on both of us, especially in the vocal department. Susan never sang on stage before. I had done plenty of screaming, but holding a tune was a bit of a challenge. It gets easier all the time. Since Ian and Ben joined, the complexity of the music has increased dramatically, they are really pushing us forward.
SacIndieMusic:I have read you once describe your music as ‘Mopey’…has your description changed, and do your songs lyrical content reflect a ‘Mopey’ attitude?
JIM: I’ve always had a little trouble describing our music. I think at the time, “mopey” was a good term to use, but we’ve outgrown it. Lyrically, we’ve always dealt with sadness, though we try to not sing about ourselves, per se. We have always used mythological characters, fairy tales, ghost stories and dreams as inspiration and tools to convey our feelings. Our new album is a concept album based around fairy tales, and California history. There is sadness there, but we are really trying to go for a feeling of vastness, for lack of a better term. For me, the best thing a band can do is make me imagine something other than a bunch of people playing instruments and singing when I hear them. That’s what I’d like for (WANING) to accomplish with our music.
SacIndieMusic: How would you describe the bands song writing process?
JIM: Usually, Susan and/or I will come up with a basic idea at home and bring it to practice. We will then work it out and improvise until the song starts to take shape. Ian and Ben contribute ideas too, and and the songs slowly mutate into their forms.
SacIndieMusic: How do you feel about the Sacramento music scene, and do you feel as though it has been receptive to you?
JIM: Honestly, Sacramento is a tough town. The metal scene has been pretty friendly, but the public at large seems to not know what to do with us. I notice that the people who are most psyched about our bands are other musicians. We’ve made a lot of friends that way, and it’s a really good feeling to be praised by people you respect. The non-musician community seems rather elusive, though. People seem have a tendency to show up for their friends’ band and bail when everyone else is playing. This is something I see at a lot of shows, by the way, not just ours. There are a lot of great bands here, but sometimes it seems like the audience is… sparse.
SacIndieMusic: What are your short term and long term goals as a band?
JIM: In the short term, we are recording a new album. In the long term, get out of town and play some more shows, and just hack away at getting our music out there to as many people as possible.
SacIndieMusic: Do you have any plans on releasing new music soon?
JIM: Our new record will be called The Funeral Mountains. We’re just about to start recording. It is a concept album based on a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, but it takes place during the Silver Rush in the high desert of California. It’s our first record with both Ian and Ben. We’ve been playing some of the songs live for quite some time and we are pretty psyched on it.
SacIndieMusic: In regards to your recordings, a post by ‘The Sludgelord’ (http://thesludgelord.blogspot.com/2012/05/waning.html) described your E.P. Broken Path as being “under-produced”, but looking past this, the musical content showed promise for the band to release stronger records in the future. How do you respond to the “under-produced” description, and are most of your recordings DIY?
JIM: I totally agree that it was under produced. It was my first full band recording since my four-track days in high school, and the recorder we were working with break almost immediately, so I just recorded it on Garageband. For the situation, I feel like it came out okay. We’ve got someone working on a remix, which should see the light of day eventually. In the past we’ve had other people record our music, but for our next record, I’ve upgraded my equipment and I am going to take another whack at it.
SacIndieMusic: Do you ever plan on/ or feel the need to getting a recording “professionally” done?
JIM: I would personally love to. I’ve worked with many home recorders, but never been in a real-deal studio. It’s an experience I’d like to have.
SacIndieMusic: Do you feel there are too many limitations, so to speak, to having an album recorded in a regular studio?
JIM: Of course, time is a limitation, and recording ourselves does give us the time to experiment. Some parts on “Broken Path” were totally improvised while recording, which is pretty good. Plus, we don’t have a lot of money or any label backing currently, so that’s a limitation as well. I really enjoy the process too, and hope if I can get good enough at recording our band, I can start recording others as well.
SacIndieMusic: What is the most difficult part about getting your music out to people?
Jim: Making people aware that you are out there. There are a million bands that want your attention, and we are but one of them. Rising above the din can be tough. We play music that is difficult to describe too, so that can be a challenge when trying to hype ourselves.
SacIndieMusic: What are some of your most memorable achievements in the time that (WAINING) has existed?
JIM: Playing under the stars in the middle of the night in Wonder Valley, CA and going to Seattle for the first time in my life are highlights. One of my favorite memories took place in our old practice space, which was a storage unit behind a porno shop in Citrus Heights. We were playing “Queen of Bees” for the first time, just improvising our way through it with the door open. Two or three cars pulled up and the people inside them just lit up joints, drank beer and listened to us play. That song was like 20 minutes long in it’s early form. I figured we must be on to something.
SacIndieMusic: What is the most difficult part about being in a band?
Jim: Having a bad or poorly attended show can really murder your self-esteem. Then, when you are just about to throw it in and take up pottery or something, you have a good show and there is a reason to continue.
SacIndieMusic: What is the best part about being in a band?
JIM: Playing music for people, the more the better. I like live shows. If we are really on, there can be moments that are quite cathartic.
SacIndieMusic: Any plans for getting out and doing a tour?
JIM: I think for the time being, we will be focused mostly on getting out of town on short weekend jaunts. We have day jobs, and some members have kids, so going out for anything longer than an couple nights requires a great deal of coordination. I’m hoping next year we can mount a full scale West Coast tour at the very least.
SacIndieMusic: What does the future hold for (WANING)?
JIM: More shows, a new record before the end of the year. Thanks for the chance to let us talk about our band!
Susan Hunt – Keyboards/vocals, Jim Willig – Baritone guitar/vocals, Ian Black – Bass/Vocals, Benjamin Carpineta – drums