B&L: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it? How’d it come calling to you?
David Wax: So after graduating from college, I allowed myself to daydream, to fantasize about what I’d like to do if I didn’t have to worry about money or the big picture or explaining myself to anyone. I imagined returning to Mexico and studying and playing the traditional music there that I loved. I figured out how to get a fellowship to let me do just that, and found myself crisscrossing dirt roads all over Mexico tracking down musicians and Mexican hootenannies, all the while penning songs. It was amazing. And during that year, it became clear to me that if I didn’t make a go of it as a songwriter that then I would always regret not trying. If I didn’t try to live my life as a musician, I’d always wonder what could’ve been.
For me, making music is about seeking truth and beauty. It’s a way of navigating and making sense of this strange and fleeting existence of ours. It grants us a special kind of communion with the human heart. For all these reasons, it feels like a privilege to pursue this calling.
B&L: What’s your favorite part of a museum?
Wax: I love when you stumble upon a room dedicated to one artist, a room that has a whole score of his or her paintings and it’s a complete epiphany to see this artist’s lifework and vision all at once. I remember walking through the Prado in Madrid and coming across the Goya room — that was one of the most powerful museum experiences I’ve ever had. Such desolation condensed into this images.
B&L: What’s the making of a great show? What do you look or hope for as the folks are setting foot on that stage?
Wax: When I go to a show, I want to be taken on a journey. I want the band to immerse me in their world for that hour and a half, to suspend time and take me through a state of heightened emotions.
B&L: Is songwriting a relatively easy thing for you? How does that process unfold? What inspires the act of pushing a pen across paper for the David Wax Museum?
Wax: It depends on the type of song I’m writing. I’ve been writing songs for so long that I have the ability to sit down and churn something out, as if I’m just sitting down and making a chair, basically treating it as a craft. That said, it can take me easily a year or more of editing and honing to finalize a song, especially if it’s a song I feel invested in and can imagine recording on a Wax Museum album.
B&L: Let’s talk about the new record, “Guesthouse.” It’s quite different from your past efforts. What were the goals behind this puppy? What excites you about releasing this thing out into the world? (Will it be available a day early at this show?)
Wax: With this new record, I was purposely trying to write in a more direct style. In the past, I think because I’m naturally a private person, I was pouring my heart in the songs but shying away from being too plainspoken. I was singing things I had never said out loud to anyone, and so I had to be guarded and kind of hide behind the language, so to speak. I felt liberated as a writer with these songs, and I think it ultimately means that the songs are a little more straightforward and accessible.
I’m always hoping to push the band sonically. I think this record stretches us out into so many new directions. That, in turn, always inspires the live show. There’s still the folk heart, and now there is a whole other layer of texture and color that come from a different sonic landscape.
And yes, “Guesthouse” will be available a day early at 3S!
B&L: While we’re talking songs, what’s one tune that exists out there in the ether that blows you away that you kind of wish you had written?
Wax: “To Ramona” by Bob Dylan.
B&L: You have quite a history here in Seacoast, New Hampshire… What do you enjoy about performing in this part of the world?
Wax: We’ve always found that the community in the Seacoast is open to having an experience with us. Folks there are so willing to be moved, whether physically or emotionally. They’ll dance with us, but just as quickly, they’ll gather round for an unplugged ballad and you can tell they are listening with an open heart. I know this might sound a little cheesy, but it’s a big part of why we’re pursuing a life in music, to have transcendent experiences like that. Thanks to the way people interact with music in your corner of the world, we’ve had many incredible evenings in Newmarket, Dover, and Portsmouth.
Wax: We’ll play many of the songs people have come to know over the years, but we’ll also be debuting a bunch of brand new songs from Guesthouse. We will be performing some of them live for the very first time at 3S. We’ve got an amazing new line-up of musicians with us. So there will be a lot of new faces on stage, but we’re sure that you’ll come to love these guys as much as we do. They are wonderful people and inspiring musicians.
David Wax Museum will be kicking off their “Guesthouse” release tour at 3S Artspace on Thursday, October 15th. For tickets and more information click here.