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|The Return of Longwave
Guitarist Shannon Ferguson spills it on shakeups and breakups and the band’s latest effort There’s a Fire
by Ashley Graham
The current form of dream-poppers Longwave may very well be the perfect example of growth and harmony through line-up change. While the recording and touring behind their debut full-length The Strangest Things turned into a battle of creative differences, their latest effort There’s a Fire proved a much more enjoyable experience.
“We recorded in this mansion up on a mountain and we just hung out, I don’t even remember talking that much about the stuff,” guitarist Shannon Ferguson says over the phone from a parking lot in Seattle. “I remember playing a lot of pool. It was just really simple and really direct and we knew what we wanted to do.”
As Ferguson describes, the days leading up to Longwave as a four piece’s demise were not exactly positive. Former member Mike James (drums) suffered a shoulder injury before the tour in support of Things and never fully recovered, eventually deciding he no longer wanted to be in the band. Bassist Dave Marchese never seemed to find his place in the band, as Ferguson says, and after awhile the gap between he and the rest of the members became insurmountable and Longwave moved on without him.
“We realized after recording The Strangest Things that Longwave was never four happy guys battling it out against the world,” Ferguson says. “[Mike and Dave] left in May of 2004 and we had already set the dates to record [the album] so we had to pull it together. This was the first time there was no argument in the studio. It was the easiest thing ever.”
Longwave began in New York City in 1999 with original members Ferguson and lead singer, guitarist and head talent, Steve Schiltz. While James and Marchese served as early members, James’ injury brought in replacement drummer Nic Brown, who became the third member of the Longwave who would record There’s a Fire.
Secluded in a mansion in the Catskills, the three members teamed up with producer John Leckie (Radiohead, The Verve, The Stone Roses) for their second LP. Leckie was a great influence on the band and, as Ferguson says, “definitely wanted his opinions to be heard.“ Recording went smoothly though (especially in comparison to earlier efforts) and the band produced an album that they are thrilled to be sharing with fans.
“It’s a lot more dynamic than the last effort and we really tried to bring that out,” Ferguson says. “We’re trying to just give everybody a great ride.”
Now Longwave feels stronger than ever. Currently on tour in support of the new album, the band consists of Ferguson, Schiltz, bassist Paul Dillon, drummer Jason Molina and keyboardist Jeff Sheinkopf, whom Ferguson claims he and Schiltz “had their eye on” while he was in fellow New York band Sea Ray and after Sea Ray‘s breakup earlier this year, they were quick to approach him. Shows have been going well with the new recruits and the new songs sound great pumping through the speakers.
“We play probably 13 or 14 songs a night and we’re playing about fifty-fifty with the last album and it’s going over really well,” Ferguson says. “We did a tour before we started making the record to test out the new material and even back then the response was really strong and it gave us a lot of confidence about recording. There’s a couple that always go over really well like ‘There’s a Fire’ and ‘The River.’”
Music has changed quite a bit since the last time Longwave did the full-length release thing though. New York boys The Strokes are currently in third-album-recording limbo and Longwave’s other neighbors have faded out in popularity, bringing in a new flock of bands who are more mediocre pop than gritty garage rock. But Ferguson doesn’t even feel the pressure of mainstream competition. In fact, he’s barely even aware of it.
“I can honestly say I’ve never even heard The Killers, I really have no idea. I’ve never heard Bloc Party. Maybe I heard The Arcade Fire on David Letterman once or something? I don’t know,“ he laughs. “A friend of mine has their record and he played it once at a party and I just kind of zoned out. I don’t know if that’s what you’re supposed to do, but that’s what I did.”
“If you try to write songs based on the idea that you think it might be played on the radio I think it ruins everything,” Ferguson says. “We do fine just doing what we’re doing.”
Good music AND they don’t give a shit about The Killers! The Wig approves. What more could you need?
There’s a Fire comes out on June 28 on RCA and Longwave’s tour continues through July. For more information head to www.longwavetheband.com