Indietracks interview #27: The Wave Pictures

Interview by Gareth Ware

Prolific, lyrically vivid and packing, in David Tattersall a truckload of awesome guitar solos to boot, The Wave Pictures are making their first venture to Ripley’s fair climes since 2008, which coincided with the release of acclaimed second ‘proper’ album ‘Instant Coffee Baby’. With much having changed since – including the record or two released in the meantime – David Tattersall kindly took the time to talk about their return and their imminent new double album.

Having last played Indietracks way back in 2008, are you excited at returning and seeing how the festival has developed?
Yes I am, though I hope it hasn’t changed too much. It has always had such a nice atmosphere.

How do you think you’ve developed as musicians, songwriters and performers in the time between visits?
I think we have improved tremendously!

What can you tell us about your new record, which comes out in the autumn? With it being a double, were there new challenges in making it compared to a standard, single-disc album?
We travelled around America for six weeks, crammed in a van with Allo Darlin’, and I wrote lyrics in a notebook to pass the time on the long drives. When I got home to London, I was pretty jet lagged and confused; I didn’t sleep properly for about a month. All I could do was write songs. It was a strange time in many ways, I felt like a ghost but the songs just poured out of me. I could just pick up the notebook, look at something I had written in it whilst travelling around, and make a song up instantaneously. It was very exciting. It was this strange and unusual time that necessitated doing a double album. I didn’t decide to make a double and then set about writing it. I think I wrote about fifty songs in a week. It had to be a double! But, we cut it down to the best twenty tracks. Or what seemed the best at the time. The title came to me in a dream, and since nothing useful ever came to me in a dream before, I thought we should use it. The album will be called City Forgiveness.

Having done both EPs and now a double alongside the standard album format, which do you think offers the greatest writing challenge – the need to get a message across concisely on an EP or maintaining a sense of cohesion over a double?
There are no challenges really on the writing side. You just write songs and you put a small number of them on an EP and more on an album and twice as many again to make a double album! I like double albums a lot, as a music fan. Lubbock (on everything) by Terry Allen, Trout Mask Replica, Blonde on Blonde… there are some good double albums knocking around!

The question on everyone’s lips will no doubt be: will it contain mentions of fruit? Can you please confirm or deny this fact?
I definitely got some food and drink in there somewhere. I had genuinely no idea that I wrote about fruit often until it was pointed out to me. It is funny because I did it lots of times without thinking about it, but now I am quite self-conscious of it. So there might be no fruit on the new album.

Speaking of lyrics, you’ve always had this way with vivid imagery reminiscent of Jonathan Richman et al – where does the inspiration for them come from?
I think that the truth is that after a while you just start to think in the form of song lyrics. You walk down the street and lines start to form in your mind that sound like song lines. It happens to me that way. Certain conditions are also strangely helpful to songwriting. I often write a song if I haven’t slept well or if I am hungover: I do not know why!

When I was younger I would turn to writers to kick-start my brain. I took many many lines out of Raymond Chandler novels. I stole freely from Charles Bukowski and Henry Miller and Jim Thompson and Carson McCullers. I still do this occasionally, but it is pretty rare for me to use someone else’s line these days. Generally the lyrics just pop into my mind and then it is a matter of editing.

So – I guess the answer is that, after a while, the songs just inspire themselves! They start writing themselves. I do it just for pleasure, and it comes quite easily to me now, which is not to say that I don’t wish I was better at it. Often, I cringe with embarrassment at my own songs. But, as long as I enjoy myself, I will keep doing it.

What does the rest of 2013 hold for you and what are you most looking forward to?
I am most looking forward to working with Howard Hughes again – doing some writing and recording for another Lobster Boat album with him. That should be fun.

What are you most looking forward to seeing and/or doing at the festival? Is there anyone in particular you’re particularly excited to see?
I am excited to see my parents. They should be coming along, since they live quite near to the festival. I hope so anyway. I have always enjoyed just being at the festival with them, and seeing friends play. It is such a nice relaxing festival; one of the only ones I enjoy being at.

If I am able to be there, I will watch the Pastels. I love their music. Do you know the recording of This Could Be The Night by Jad Fair and the Pastels? That’s one of the best records I can think of.

Indietracks Compilation 2013 by The Wave Pictures