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    Wax Fang: Phase Three
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    Sunday afternoon sunlight pierces stained glass windows and splays across a back table at El Camino. In spite of the sunshine, it’s cold, so we order drinks; two margaritas and a Michelada.  Scott Carney sits up straight, projecting confidence, despite his fidgeting. “I just celebrated my twenty-fifth year of playing guitar,” he says,” and I’m only 27.” Corey McAfee, long-time friend, band manager and newest member of Wax Fang laughs, “You wish you were 27.” The pair sits margaritas in hand, embodying what Carney has dubbed “Phase Three” of the band.

    Back in September, WFPK released their final Waterfront Wednesday lineup for the outdoor season.  We were all surprised and excited to see Wax Fang on the bill.  The announcement was unexpected, considering that the band removed themselves from the public eye after their third album, “The Astronaut,” released in 2014. Did they get lost in space? Turns out the “fantasy rock” group, as Carney calls it, have been writing new material for a fourth album. A glimpse of that new material released back in October. 

    Their newest single, “Exit Strategy,” as well as, other material was generated in a “glorified cabin on the Kentucky River,” says Carney. The band removed themselves every weekend over the course of several months to work on new music. “There wasn’t any internet or TV, so we just had all our [equipment] set up in a way that any idea could documented at any time,” explains McAfee.

    The single picks up where, “The Astronaut” left off. “It makes sense aesthetically from that,” says Carney. With five minutes of drippy guitars, fuzzy synths, lonely crooning, all in a pretty loose structure, the single exemplifies the progression into more epic songwriting in comparison to their former traditionally structured songs. “It has a lot more vibe,” explains McAfee. “It’s one that kind of pushed the boundaries.”

     

    Wax Fang originally formed 10 years ago and wouldn’t be “pushing boundaries” had they not gone through so many phases. Phase One, in 2005, was the materialization of what was just a byproduct of Carney’s imagination. “It wasn’t a real band,” he recalls, “It was this fantasy I had about a band that could either exist or not.” After returning home from film school in Pittsburgh, Carney met Kevin Ratterman – now owner of La La Land Studio and a member of band Twin Limb.  Ratterman recorded the songs Carney wrote in Pittsburgh. Ratterman was also a drummer, so the two talked of making a band around those original songs. They added bassist Jake Heustis and Phase One was complete. Together, they were the launching pad responsible for putting Wax Fang on the music scene. This iteration of the band would produce two records, tour with My Morning Jacket and begin the developmental stages of what would later become a space rock opera. All of this paved the way to Phase Two.

    “Kevin ended up leaving in 2010. Then we were functioning as a two piece, Jake and I,” says Carney. McAfee, having been their manager since 2006, began taking on a more creative role. He helped Phase Two make “The Astronaut,” a concept album birthed out of a ten second clip from Kubrick’s 1968 film, “2001 Space Odyssey.”  

    “I’ve always filled in wherever needed to be filled in. It’s been a natural progression,” says McAfee. “The Astronaut” highlighted the band’s experimentation with electronics, but marked the end of Phase Two when the band went on hiatus after its release.

    These phases have given us many chapters in the Wax Fang evolution and a whole catalogue of music. “Everything is so different,” says McAfee referencing the band’s music now, compared to the beginning -- they’re constantly reinventing themselves. They’ve gone from traditional, song-based records to more loose structured grooves with electronic elements, with “enough guitars for the people who like the guitar heavy stuff,” says Carney.

    Phase Three of the band also includes Dave Chale on drums and Zach Driscoll on keys. Together, the band is working on finishing their fourth album. “We’ve got more material than can fit on one record,” says Carney. “But, we’re focusing on finishing up a couple songs and performing.”  With that, we can expect more shows locally and regionally. The band will headline at Headliners Music Hall with The Features and Ancient Warfare on January 22nd.

    Katie Molck's picture

    About Katie Molck

    Loretta Lynn is the best country music singer of all time and if you don't like pickled foods, you can leave.

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