Waveless strive to ‘create art in the face of fear’


Waveless Whitney Walter

You never know what’ll happen next when someone reads about you on the internet.

Formed by vocalist/guitarist Jared Sather, bassist/vocalist Hannah Kathleen Fraser, and drummer Dustin McChesney, the speedy punk trio Waveless released its self-titled debut on cassette, and followed that with 2016’s Spirit Island. That year, Sebadoh’s Lou Barlow happened upon a City Pages write-up about the band. Intrigued, he offered to get their self-titled debut onto vinyl, which was released on Joyful Noise Recordings last year. Now the band prepares to head out on a Midwest tour in support of their latest full-length As One More Folded Paper Crane.

McChesney and Sather have played music together since they met at Armstrong High School in Plymouth around 15 years ago. Both were fans of Fraser’s band Crimes, and it was only a matter of time before they asked her to join them in creating what became Waveless. The 28-year-olds now all live in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood.

We spoke to McChesney ahead of the band’s album release show at Icehouse this Satuday.

City Pages: Your new album’s title references a Japanese girl who made paper cranes. What’s her story?

DM: It’s kind of a heavy subject. As One More Folded Paper Crane is a reference to Sadako Sasaki. She was a little girl who developed leukemia from the atomic bomb. She had heard that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, you get a wish. She didn’t make it to 1,000. She only was able to fold about 700 paper cranes. It’s kind of a story about this little girl facing death but using art to cope with it. Our story is not as traumatic or as heavy as hers, but what we want to do is create art in the face of fear and stress and the things that we’re facing. It’s kind of an ode to her: here’s one more paper crane to your thousand.

CP: Silent film star Buster Keaton was also an influence on the album. How did he factor in?

DM: Buster Keaton was a silent film star. In the transition to talkies, MGM kind of fucked him over. They kind of took creative control away from him. Even though there were people trying to manipulate him and control him, the sheer force of his will cemented him as one of the greats. That’s inspiring because everyone feels pushed around in a way, so to have someone to look up to is inspiring.

CP: Two of your friends were also influential in the making of this album. How did they contribute?

DM: Jessee [Rose Crane] and Philip [Jerome Lesicko] are in this band called the Funs. They’re from Chicago. Really great people. They converted an old funeral home into an arts studio and a recording studio in Illinois, in the middle of nowhere. We got to go and hang with them and stay there for three nights. That’s where we recorded this record. Hannah and Jared slept where they used to have the wakes at the funeral home. It’s kind of eerie and spooky. There’s definitely a presence in that place, but the positivity of Jessee and Philip kind of negated that energy. It’s kind of funny, there’s like a lot of harmonies that ring out on the record but me and Hannah were talking to each other about how neither of us were singing that. A lot of people call it “ghost notes,” which is kind of appropriate. Jessee and Philip are positive inspirations for us. They have their own label, they DIY, and they stay true to what they want.

CP: Waveless has been around the DIY scene for years. What unique or off-the-beaten path places have you played?

DM: Since we started out as a hardcore punk band, we were playing basements, we were playing warehouses throughout the United States. Playing those places has given us perspective that a lot of bands who just play the bars or the clubs don’t get. I don’t know how to say this without being a jerk, really, but it’s definitely humbled us. One night you’re playing to 300 people; the next night you’re playing to three because the kid who promoted it didn’t do a good job. It’s hard but it’s definitely rewarding when you do get those nights where you’re playing a warehouse with a lot of people.

CP: Have you had to adjust your expectations as far as success, popularity, or album sales over the life of the band?

DM: Oh, yeah. I think that we decided that we love the process of making a record and going out on tour and kind of no matter what is given back to us, that’s what we’ve decided we wanted to do and we want to do it as long as we can. Finding ways that we can make money from it is important, but it’s not really our goal. Our goal is to put out more records and go on more tours. Of course we’d love more people to hear us, but that’s kind of out of my control. It’s a roll of a dice depending on who’s giving us support.

With: Friendless Passenger, DJ Dimesack
Where: Icehouse
When: 11 p.m. Sat. May 26
Tickets: $8 - $10; more info here