Reluctantly, Nathan Williams — the leader of indie rock outfit Wavves — is growing up, and pretty fast, too.
Sure, the notorious stoner might have spent a good chunk of this month plopped on the couch, under the influence, playing Grand Theft Auto V, but consider it the reward for a good amount of work put into the game, curating his own radio station in the latest title and providing an original song, “Nine Is God,” for the game’s soundtrack.
“I’ve intensely played every single title Rockstar Games puts out, so this is crazy,” Williams said. “It’s taking over the world. Billboards every year, giant displays in every store … you overhear kids talking about it on the street. It’s still very weird.”
It’s avenues like this that Williams — in addition to countless hours he puts into Wavves — wants to pursue, and beneath the image of a lazy pothead lurks a workaholic.
“I’m doing more stuff like that. I like it a lot,” Williams said. “They present a mood that you write to, which is totally different for me. Normally, I just write for my mood, but writing for new characters, it’s really fun.”
But the GTA contribution is just the cherry on top of an already-banner year. Wavves’ new album, Afraid of Heights, debuted to career high sales and positive reviews, noting an indebtedness to ’90s alternative after previous efforts flirting with noise rock and snotty punk jams.
“It’s what [bassist Stephen Pope] and I listened to growing up, when we were actually allowed to form our own taste in music and get into specific bands and dig into new worlds,” Williams said. “That’s what was popular for me at that time: Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins. Those are kind of my heroes.”
After years spent on Fat Possum Records, Wavves split from the label and recorded the album on its own dime, eventually partnering with Mom+Pop Music (Sleigh Bells, Metric) to release the album.
“I’m most pleased with the birth of the record, the fact that I paid for it myself and I didn’t need a label to be around for the creation of it,” Williams said. “We set all the rules and decided what time we would spend on it. We took a year and used whatever musicians we wanted to.”
And in the midst of everything else, Williams has released a series of instrumental hip-hop albums with his brother as Sweet Valley and has written and published his first comic, Negative Dad, with more projects of every sort — though none yet ready to announce — due next year.
“For me as a person, I always want to be creative. It’s something that I have to have,” Williams said. “I want to be able to do as many things as I can, and not just Wavves, but whatever looks cool or exciting. It’s cool that I get to pursue all these things I never thought I’d get the chance to do. It’s the best.”