Blackwaves want to show us that ‘jammy’ isn’t a dirty word
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of German sensations such as Rammstein, Kraftwerk … Hasselhoff, blackwaves are about to test American waters with their heavy brand of psychedelic jam-metal.
Hailing from Münster, Germany, blackwaves are crossing the Atlantic for their first U.S. tour. At least one member is bringing fond memories of a previous stateside visit.
“I love the old cars, the big streets and some of the great cities like San Francisco,” said guitarist Steve Uhe via e-mail. “I was there in 1996 and had a great time skating, shopping and eating vegetarian burgers.”
The Boca patties may have to take a backseat to the band’s rigorous tour schedule—14 shows in as many nights, including a March 26 stop at Monstros Pizza.
Blackwaves started as an offshoot project in 2004—Uhe was playing death metal in Cheer- leaders of the Apocalypse, and keyboardist Frank Uelsberg was in punk/thrash band Kinetic Crash Cooperation. This was an opportunity to create music that didn’t fit with their respective bands.
After some failed attempts at adding computerized drumbeats, they recruited Tobias Volmecke, a friend Uhe lovingly refers to as “an awesome beast behind the drumset.” Later, the band would add bassist Chris Nussbaum to complete the four-piece.
With the full lineup, the band began to create a spacey, slower, but no less dramatic take on metal, pulling inspiration from bands like Neurosis, Isis and Goatsnake. Unlike those bands, however, blackwaves is entirely instrumental, something that wasn’t consciously decided upon yet rightfully puts the focus on the hard-hitting playing.
The band’s music is full of stoner/doom-style riffage and plenty of crash-cymbal and floor-tom pummeling. The psychedelic textures of Uelsberg’s keyboard as well as the occasional bouts of melodic guitar plucking and epic buildups add a nice twist to a familiar formula. Fans of instrumental post-rock bands like Red Sparowes, Explosions in the Sky and Pelican should find just as much to like as straight-up metal fanatics.
Rather than focusing on vocal hooks, catchy lead-guitar lines or tight song structures, blackwaves go straight for the visceral impact music can have on listeners. For example, if a certain idea or riff feels right, there’s no reason it can’t repeat for three or four minutes before changing.
Although “jammy” is often regarded as a dirty word in many genres of music (especially heavy ones), it’s something the members of blackwaves fully embrace.
“Jammy is the right word,” Uhe said. “We jam a lot.”
The band recently signed with Forgotten Empire Records, a label based in North Carolina, and released its first full-length, 012, in 2007. Blackwaves’ West Coast tour includes labelmate Ninth Moon Black, which hails from Eugene, Ore.
“Back in September, they asked if we were interested in going with them,” Uhe said, “and that was a good chance to make a big dream come true.”
Blackwaves are already looking to get back in the studio as soon as they return to Germany, and a new album can be expected as soon as this summer.
Uhe says things are going rather well for the band at home, and this tour will be a great chance to see if blackwaves can start to muster the same level of enthusiasm abroad. If the performances match the intensity of the recordings, it’s only a matter of time.