Rogue Wave crashes Tucson

By Nate Buchik
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, January 20, 2005

The comparisons were inevitable.

Rogue Wave's debut, Out of the Shadow, is chock full of Shins-esque pop tunes, but carries soft spoken lyrics reminiscent of Elliott Smith and peaks at Neutral Milk Hotel heights.

The album, first released in 2003 and re-released by Subpop in 2004, has garnered praise from every critic this side of the Mason-Dixon line (God, I've always wanted to say that, what do you think it means?), prompting opening slots on tours for major indie players like Death Cab For Cutie and Spoon.

"When the record first started getting reviewed, honestly, it made me start to cry," songwriter Zach Rogue said. "I was like 'Holy fucking shit.' These are the bands and records that shaped my life. To have someone else feel like that, it's so flattering."

It must have been a surprising turn of events for Rogue, who in 2002 was playing guitar for the Desoto Reds, a band he was quickly losing interest in.

"I wrote some songs but the ones that I really wanted to be playing we didn't really play as a band," Rogue said.

On a whim, Rogue went to New York with plans to record a couple tracks with a friend. They ended up recording enough for Rogue Wave's debut, and his career in the Desoto Reds was all but over.

"I thought my stuff in New York would have been more of the demo faction. But I realized that I'm capable of doing something on my own if I want to. I wanted to make that jump to following my own vision," he said.

Rogue found some musicians to play his songs live, changed his last name from Schwartz, and Rogue Wave was formed. Soon, Subpop got a hold of the album and signed them to a deal.

"How can I be on the same label as Iron and Wine? It kind of boggles my mind," he said about the Seattle-based label. "I feel like we're the hacks on the label. We're very fortunate and inspired by the variety of music on the label."

Endless touring is the new, somewhat monotonous story of Rogue Wave. But they plan to take a break late in the spring to begin work on a new album. With the new album, and a full band contributing to it, Rogue Wave will have a chance to create a new identity.

"I don't want to be known as a band, that sounds like this band and that's why I'm excited about the next record and I want to move on in a new direction and have our own unique sound," Rogue said. "It's inevitable that there will be similarities but I'll be happy as long as we aren't called rip off artists."

Getting compared to other bands is nothing new for Rogue, who has been dealing with it since he wrote his first song at 11.

"My stepdad had showed me how to write a couplet. So I went and wrote something. It was a complete rip off of 'Last Train to Clarksville' by the Monkees," he said. "I brought a Casio into my parent's room and played it for them. My stepdad was like, 'That's good, but it's the Monkees.'"

While some band members still have other jobs, indie rock looks to be a good career choice for Rogue, especially given the recent boom in exposure for indie artists.

"I think there's a reaction to all the corporate stuff that people get tired of. To me it's very exciting. When you read articles in The New York Times about The Shins or Death Cab, I understand that more than these monolithic or corporate bands," he said. "It's a sign that you can make the music you like and find an audience for it."

Rogue Wave opens for the Album Leaf at Solar Culture this Saturday. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $7.