It’s always darkest before it goes pitch black
(Waning) goes from noise to artsy-fartsy post-something—to hair metal?
At a recent show at On the Y, a dive bar on Fulton Avenue, (Waning) found themselves paired with a hair-metal tribute band. (Waning) looked on from an empty dance floor while said band, Society’s Child, chugged through songs that sounded distressingly similar to Def Leppard.
The nadir came when Society’s Child dispensed with the facade and covered “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” Most bands, it is safe to say, would have walked away, gone outside for a smoke or hid in the bathroom. But (Waning) stuck it out. One member even showed love with air drumming when the band covered the much better Dio classic “Rainbow in the Dark.”
“Mopey” is the word guitarist and singer Jim Willig uses most often to describe (Waning), his three-piece band with keyboardist Susan Hunt and drummer Scott De Meideros. The term could mean a number of things. It may describe De Meideros’ downtempo drumming and Hunt’s listless synth lines, which recall the bleak atmospherics of trilogy-period Cure records. Or it may just as well describe Willig’s post-metal inundations of roaring guitar. The band’s affectless stage presence also adds something to its mopey cachet.
Emerging from the Sacramento noise scene in 2007, (Waning) began as an ambient project between Willig and Hunt. The two played at art galleries on Second Saturday and numerous weird venues that a connection to the noise scene seems to invite: a bomb shelter in Davis, for example, or an isolated bar in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
“We stayed in this scary-ass ranch house. It had spiders everywhere; then we found a script to a horror movie in a drawer. Susan read that one,” Willig said about the Mojave gig.
“It was terrible, terrible. Cults and babies,” Hunt added.
After a couple years, the pair lost interest in their ambient project, and perhaps audiences did, too.
During sets, “lots of people [were] walking up to us and asking when we were going to start playing or where the bathroom was,” Willig said.
So the band started experimenting with different sounds, and then Willig recruited his housemate De Meideros to play drums. The two had played together years before in the jokey hardcore band the Shenanigoats. Currently De Meideros also drums for the punk band the No-Goodniks.
“Previously, when Jim and I had played together, everything we had done was punk rock and hardcore. This was the first time I felt that I was making music per se. I was excited about it. I never really thought of myself as a musician. I always thought of myself as someone who plays drums,” De Meideros said.
But with any migration from familiar territory, it takes a while to find one’s way.
“We haven’t really found our place,” Willig said. “There’s not a whole lot of bands doing the artsy-fartsy, post-metal, heavy-pretty thing.” At least, not in Sacramento.
“In Sacramento, people like to have fun. People like to dance. There are a lot of funny bands or quirky bands that I think are pretty popular,” Hunt said.
The band isn’t moping about their predicament, though. They finished recording a still-untitled LP, to be self-released in February or March 2010. Despite their move away from noise, they continue to collaborate with local noise artists such Chopstick and Noisepsalm. They gig wherever they can around town, even if that means playing with bands that don’t necessarily share their aesthetic vision. Or even flatly contradict it.
Chalk up (Waning)’s good manners to mopiness. Mopey people are almost always nice once you get to know them. Angst either kills you off or mellows you out. Thinking too often about how life passes away almost as quickly as the shine leaves the moon, you can’t help but be nice.