“Knowing what you want is probably the hardest thing about life”
“I’ve never been to the UK or Europe in general, so I’m so excited just to see a new place and I’m grateful that music is what has brought the opportunity,” states Microwave vocalist and guitarist Nate Hardy from the band’s base in Atlanta, Georgia ahead of their forthcoming visit to these shores alongside Real Friends and Can’t Swim. It’s a trip that Hardy hopes to learn a lot from. He says, “I learned when we started touring the United States how little I know about US Geography. I literally don’t know anything about the UK or which cities are big. I know all the states that say ‘New’ in front of them in the North East of the States are named after places in the UK.”
For those attending the nine-date run will be introduced to Microwave’s satisfying brand of genre-hopping rock. Since their formation in 2012, the quartet made up of Hardy, guitarist Wesley Swanson, bassist Travis Hill and drummer Timothy “Tito” Pittard, have been fine-tuning their mix of indie rock and emo with their second full-length, ‘Much Love’, achieving their target of producing a unique sound. Hardy describes the record as “noisy, dark, and riddled with guitar solos”. It is a record that embraces a wider range of influences, allowing for a more rawer set of songs. However, Nate says the band’s tendency to shift their sound can have mixed possibilities. “We can genuinely get into playing a variety of different feeling songs, which some people seem to really appreciate, but also it kind of sounds like we’re unfocused. Knowing what you want is probably the hardest thing about life.”
Although they didn’t set the world alight with their 2014 debut, ‘Stovall’, the band did pick up some momentum through word-of-mouth, catching the attention of SideOneDummy Records along the way. “It’s been interesting because we never considered ourselves a pop-punk band or an emo band, but the self-proclaimed fanbase of both of those genres has seemed to particularly appreciate whatever style it is that we play,” says Hardy on band’s organic growth. “We’re completely cool with it because those people seem to genuinely connect with it and it’s grown by word-of-mouth.” During our conversation, Nate talks about the resentment [some] music fans have for bands who are overnight success stories, using Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins as examples with Modest Mouse’s gradual rise being used as a counter. Nevertheless, beyond the prospect of touring overseas and all the problems life in a band causes, Hardy is determined to soldier on, no matter what the situation is. “I love playing and writing music. I’ll grind it out and work this shitty day job washing dishes while I’m home for the rest of my life if that’s how it’s going to be.”
The element of not being boxed in into a certain scene or genre makes it easy to see why Microwave feels at home on SideOneDummy. “They have a such a wide range of artists and there isn’t a super conclusive or particular scene attached to their name,” explains Nate. “They’re as punk as ever, which is tight, and it’s grown to be more of a mindset than an indication of a particular genre to expect out of one of their releases. It feels more organic and personal, how they conduct themselves and the publicity, marketing, distribution, and general industry connections they’ve been able to offer have been helpful and much appreciated.”
Following its release last September, ‘Much Love’, has seen the band’s steady ascension continue as Hardy explains; “It’s been good. We didn’t burst into the public eye and start making fat stacks, but it’s been gradual. A lot of people, who’s musical taste and opinions I really respect, have had really flattering things to say so I feel good about it.”
Beyond the flashes of grunge, punk and post-hardcore that is on offer on ‘Much Love’, Nate wanted to write a record that was more relatable; the band’s previous releases focused on his strict religious upbringing, his time as a Mormon missionary, the experiences that followed leaving the church and embracing previously forbidden habits. ‘Much Love’ captures the harsh reality of life, producing a set of songs wrapped in disillusionment and disappointment.
“I didn’t want my life and my art to become some weird religious gimmick. The influence of those experiences will probably always inadvertently bleed into things, though. I’m a walking oxymoron because I’m drawn to writing personally meaningful songs about how life is inherently meaningless.
I’ve become disenchanted with the idea that someone has a pivotal life experience as an artist and everyone around them kind of looks at them out of the corner of their eye like ‘oh I wonder if they’ll maximise on this prime personal life experience to write that hit song’. It feels so contrived.”
‘Much Love’ is littered with highlights that are carried with admirable lyrical realism albeit semi-autobiographical. “We used to only do this on the weekends, but it’s now it’s almost every single night” sings Hardy on ‘Vomit’. While ‘Lighterless’ deals with Nate’s tendency to avoid social situations for his own good. “I was really fucked up continuously for a few years and can’t remember many individual experiences in that time-frame,” says Hardy. “I feel like an asshole when I see people at bars or on tour that I’ve met several times and can’t remember them or really in-depth conversations we’ve had.”
Nevertheless, for Hardy and his band mates, their focus is playing shows and exploring the UK. “No one has advised us about anything UK-related yet. Please tell us (firstname.lastname@example.org) about Nando’s and other cool places,” Nate responds when asked if the band had been given any advice before their trip.
In regards to their shows with Real Friends and Can’t Swim, Nate promises to make the most of their time over here, “we play guitar solos, bang our heads, have long hair and funny American accents and are charming and handsome. "We have fun and try to put everything we have into it each time we play. There isn’t really anything else that’s more important to us.”
‘Much Love’ by Microwave is out now on SideOneDummy Records. It is available from Banquet Records.
Microwave will be touring with Real Friends and Can’t Swim next month.
06 Club Academy, Manchester
07 Asylum, Birmingham
09 Riverside, Newcastle
10 St. Lukes, Glasgow
11 Stylus, Leeds
12 Banquet Records, Kingston (no Real Friends)
13 Thekla. Bristol
15 Engine Rooms, Southampton
16 Electric Ballroom, London
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86). Photo Credit: Cameron Flaisch.