I’m listening to Superchunk right now. Do you remember them? They’ve got this great style that’s a throwback to all things 90s indie, like this “we’re going to do this thing and we’re going to do it better and more genuine and pump it with more passion than anyone else” thing. We’re going to be the quintessential 90s indie rock band forever, that type of stuff. The group founded Merge Records and went against the decade’s grain by declining offers from major labels and continuing on its DIY streak. I like that, I like doing it yourself. We’re a DIY organization over here on the other side of your computer screen. We support that because we know, while it’s not always easy to be independent, it’s the easiest way to hold tight to your creative freedom. Colin McGetrick will say the same. He’s one third of WaveRadio, a new subliminal, psych-rock group from West Chester that’s about to release their debut self-titled album that’s two years in the making.
“We didn’t have a producer, it was just James (McLaughlin), Chris (Cotter) and me doing it completely on our own, and it was challenging because we were always in our own heads, thinking too much about things. When we were finished with the mixing and we were making some final decisions it was kind of like, you know, is this good enough? Do we stop here? Do we do it again?”
Cotter founded TribeSound Studio in West Chester over 10 years ago, and hired McGetrick a few years in as a sound engineer. The two started entertaining the idea of forming a group after almost a decade of working in the music industry together. When they decided to start Waveradio, they brought McLaughlin into the mix and the rest of the work was kind of already laid out for them. After years of recording and producing other musical acts, they were ready to DIT, do it themselves.
“I don’t think a lot of bands are in the position that we were in when starting out. We had access to a studio and because of that we were allowed whatever freedoms we wanted. Most young bands will go into their first recording situation with an allotted time and budget and we’ve heard horror stories about people’s creative rights being taken away.” says McGetrick.
“It’s worked in our favor to release the album on TribeSound. We’ve recently brought on some new young engineers, including Dominic Ciciola, who was kind of our de facto tracking engineer because he was learning how the studio worked at the time that we were working on the album. He was eager to learn and he got his training as a Tribe sound engineer through the process of recording WaveRadio.”
The album, set for October 2, is two years of listening to Radiohead, The Black Keys and The Doors and other blur-rock with experimental tones. It’s memories in melodies that roll like roadside hills. Songs are shadowy, tinged with grey but able to punch through powerfully. It’s raw rock that’s been polished with a cloth dipped in motor oil.
McGetrick says Tom Robbins and Kurt Vonnegut are his lyrical inspirations, his go-to guys. “I’ve drawn inspiration from their stories and use of metaphor, the images that both writers convey amazes me. I think more about those authors than I do about songwriters.”
Musically, he says his band mates influence and inspire him more than any other musicians, “listening to their ideas, their riffs, I gain a lot from that. It’s funny, you wouldn’t know it, but a lot of our songs came from just having a few beers, maybe Reggae music should’ve come out of that.”
What did come out was a culmination of the guys’ different backgrounds. “We all come from playing jazz, funk and soul,” says McGetrick, “we knew we wanted to do something that came from our roots but we wanted a rock aspect to go along with that.”
McLaughlin is a classically trained pianist who also plays in a band called Sermon!. McGetrick plays in a band with his wife, Ka-Pow! (mutual exclamations are a coincidence), and works on the technical side of the industry alongside Cotter. They’ve been playing and around music since they were kids, in and around West Chester, a college town outside of the city with an underrated music scene.
“It’s a small town but there are enough clubs that you can catch live music almost every night of the week. The Note books mostly national acts and occasionally local acts, too. The Social Lounge, the Side Bar and Vudu Cafe are great places to catch original music.”
October 20 marks the group’s release party at said Social Lounge, where West Chester-based artist Erica Brown will be showcasing some of her artwork, which she lent to the group for album art. Mark Tassoni, also local, has been shooting the guys during their year and a half of putting on live shows, and his photographs will be on display, as well. “We’re playing the whole album live and we’ll be incorporating a few covers in the set, as well,” says McGetrick.
“I feel that the old school mentality of first (playing) in your backyard is important, because if you can’t do it there how are you going to be able to do it anywhere else? I think it’s still true, a grassroots type of performing style, because to put it simply, how can a new band gain confidence to play a big venue in New York before they play the bar down the street?”
Now that’s a throwback mentality. That’s this “we’re going to do this thing and we’re going to do it for our neighbors and we’re going to include our friends when we can and pump it with more passion than anyone else” thing. Superchunk would be proud, I think.