Thursday, April 17, 2008

The members of Rogue Wave knock down life's roadblocks to make latest album

by Neil Miller Jr.

Straight out of Oakland, Calif., the four members of Rogue Wave have had a whirlwind of ups and downs surrounding the recording of their most recent album, Asleep at Heaven's Gate. Enduring drummer Pat Spurgeon's kidney transplant, the loss of keyboardist Gram LeBron's father, frontman Zach Rogue having his daughter born into his life, and the recruitment of a new bassist are all things that could tear a band apart. Instead, these events only fueled the newfound urgency of Rogue Wave's sound on their new album.

As it turns out, the band was uncertain if this record would come into fruition. "Prior to working on the record, I wasn't even sure if there was going to be another one," Rogue claims. "So for us, it's the sound of reclaiming our band and our lives. We were so excited to be in the studio making these songs. The hours were very long and brutal, but I've never been happier with the result." Their fan base seems to be pleased with the outcome as well. Having a packed house for their performance at SXSW, fans even poured into the streets outside to catch their show.

After reaching a widespread audience with their two albums and EP on legendary Sub Pop Records, Rogue Wave have made a conscious jump onto their good pal Jack Johnson's label, Brushfire Records. As further evidence of the 11-year bond between Rogue and Johnson, the guys of Rogue Wave will open for Jack Johnson on his upcoming summer tour.

After spending time on a label with as much history as Sub Pop, does the new home compare? "After our contract was up with Sub Pop and we started talking to labels, I really liked what Brushfire were saying to us," Rogue says. "I like their philosophy and approach to the connection between art, music and responsibility. It's very much a family environment at Brushfire. They like to hug."

Rogue shows no difficulty in showing affection, not only for his band's new label, but also for the Windy City. Some curiosity will arise through listening to the new record as to where Rogue's heart lies for Chicago. "It's a very beautiful city with a vibrant and crazy musical culture," he says. "Whenever we play in, something amazing happens. The people who come to our shows in Chicago are the best in the world. Just good upbringing, I guess."

Rogue Wave plays Schubas (3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508) April 18 and 19