Let me scootch out just a little farther on this limb here and reiterate: Whaleboat is my favorite Savannah band. The trio's music is a finely puréed combo of shoegaze and power pop, with melodies that soar, lyrics that aren't stupid (a big plus, in my book) and the sort of stellar musicianship you don't hear every weekend over at Dixie's Booze-a-Rama.
Hard to believe that almost a year has gone by since Brent Collins, Jeremiah Stuard and Donald Moats have played together, but there it is. After a lengthy hiatus, Whaleboat is casting off once again with a March 29 show at Dollhouse Productions.
It’s a fitting location, because Dollhouse Studios, where the new Whaleboat EP Convoys was recorded by Peter Mavrogeorgis, is in the same building.
“We needed to take a little breather for a while,” says Collins, the trio’s singing/songwriting guitarist. “Life happens, you know? We all have full-time jobs, and on top of that we have our personal lives as well. We were going full-force there for about a year.
“But it’s hard, when you’re working full time, to put everything you have into a full time band as well. It was getting kind of overwhelming for myself. It had nothing to do with the band, or the music, or the guys at all. It was just me. I needed to put it all on hold for a little bit to regain my creative-ness, I guess you could say.”
Collins didn’t write any new songs for months; Stuard and Moats, meanwhile, took more time for their other projects (including Habitat Noise, Sins of Godless Men and COEDS).
“The guys were very supportive, and I really am thankful that I have them as friends, foremost, and for bandmates as well,” Collins explains.
Three of the four songs on Convoys are new; only one, “See You There,” had been performed before. Mavrogeorgis (“he was actually the fourth member in the studio”) encouraged them to re-think the song and commit it to (digital) tape.
“It’s got a little bit of swing now in the bassline,” raves Collins. “It’s got a different feel to it.”
With songs like the magical “Night Swimming” and “Cold Love Wars” (issued as a single last month), Convoys displays a good chunk ‘o growth from the first Whaleboat EP, Navigator and the odd single they’ve put out. While it’s still dreamy and reverb-drenched, it sounds less like Radiohead, the Cure and My Bloody Valentine, and more like Collins, Stuard and Moats.
The ocean is laid out in front of Whaleboat, but Collins isn’t counting on smooth sailing.
“When you’re a DIY band, it’s really tough to make money, and to be able to make a living from it, for one,” he explains. “We all have our different schedules. But we’re going to push forward.
“It was tough in the beginning, and I didn’t expect Whaleboat to take off like it did.
“I’m really happy that people love the music, and I’m really grateful for the fact that people still want to listen to the music. That really means a lot to me.”
Also playing on the March 29 Dollhouse bill: Omingnome, CO. and Tonto.
Speaking of Sins of Godless Men (we were, weren’t we?) that band’s guitarist, Greg Rettig, is also the bass player for Wave Slaves, the all-instrumental band that specializes in guitar-based surf music.
Wave Slaves has a date at the Jinx March 28, with the Lovely Locks and the Atlanta ska band Hermits of Suburbia.
Nicole Edge, tattooed goddess and Wave Slaves drummer, tells me about the evening’s theme: Rock ‘n’ Roll Prom.
“We’re calling it an adult prom,” she says. “We’re going to decorate the Jinx with balloons and streamers, there’s a photo booth, a contest for Prom King and Queen—if you win, you get gift certificates and a bar tab and stuff. What’s really funny is, I’ve never been to a prom so I don’t know what it’s supposed to be like.”
Attendees get $2 off the $5 cover if they arrive in cheesy prom attire. “We’re kind of egging people on to come dressed up,” Edge explains. “All the people will lend to the atmosphere more than us tying tissue paper to things.”
Edge is a Detroit native who’s been in Savannah for a dozen years; she’s a professional belly dancer and a craft soap maker as well as a musician.
She was raised in apartments, so her parents gave her piano lessons and a clarinet to play. Not too much noise, now!
“I grew up playing classical piano,” she says. “Most of my life, I was involved in music somehow, and when I moved to Savannah, I really wasn’t.”
For her 28th birthday, she bought herself a drum kit. “It was a way to get back into it and try something that I always wanted to do but never could.”
Her first band, Free Candy, channeled the Cramps and other psychobilly punk bands. The Wave Slaves—which also includes guitarists Shane Litts and Josh Lindsay—is an (almost) entirely different animal.
“Free Candy did some surf-influenced stuff, and that was mostly my influence on the band,” Edge says. “Because I always loved that music. Ever since I was a kid I was always listening to classical instrumental. I never was really into pop music or anything—I just always had a thing for purely instrumental music. I love the rhythms; I love the sound of it.”
Showtime: 10 p.m. Corsages optional!