Interview and words by Corynne Fernandez
On the day they released their third album, Underwater Pipe Dreams, we sat down and chatted with the guys of Inner Wave, who have been quickly making a name for themselves and gaining a dedicated group of fans all over. Read below as we talk about their sold-out album release show, the process of making their long-awaited album, and favorite records at the moment.
Pictured above left to right: Luis Portillo (drummer), Elijah Trujillo (lead guitarist), Chris Runners (keyboardist), Jean-Pierre Narvaez (bassist), Pablo Sotelo (vocals and rhythm guitar)
You guys have been together since you were teenagers, how was the band formed and what’s the meaning behind the name ‘Inner Wave?’
Elijah: In 6th grade, Pablo and I both played guitar and we met Jean-Pierre and Alex (old drummer). Jean got a bass and Alex got a drum set which resulted to jamming.
Pablo: As for the name, I made a list of like two hundred names and I showed all my friends the list of potential band names. Inner Wave was the one everyone liked the most.
This album was three years in the making, how did you guys come to the decision it was complete?
Pablo: We ran out of money. Haha no— we finished it once before about a year ago, it was completely done and mastered in the studio ready to go, but something was off. We had this really strong idea on how the process should be, we wanted it to become very collaborative — it was, but we also wanted that in the recording process, so we worked with somebody new, but we became too focused on the process instead of the music. By the end of it we did what we wanted to do but it wasn’t the vibe we were hoping for so we redid it again in the garage.
Why the name Underwater Pipe Dreams?
Pablo:It was initially a joke, for the playlist of songs that we had. Then I felt like it made sense with the themes that were happening with the album. The expression of ‘pipe dreams’ is something that will probably be a long shot and not work out. That’s how the process for the album started to feel like after a long time. On a personal level, we all went through a lot of different things within the three years, so it’s like we slowly morphed into the name that started off as a joke. With ‘underwater’ it was kinda like an ode to Lil Ugly Mane, (rapper from Virginia) his work is really low-fi but also interesting. His whole persona and how he does things musically is very intriguing.
Your new record is reminiscent of the alt rock sound that defined the early 2000’s, like that of The Strokes, making it a shift from your other material. Lyrically and musically what inspired you this time around?
Pablo: Initially we listened to a lot of Marvin Gaye—I don’t think a lot of people would think that because inspirations don’t always translate through our songs. The lyrics come from personal experiences, this summer I tried a bit – not that I didn’t try harder before I wanted to improve that aspect of it more. It was the first time where I wrote the lyrics before the music; they would end up as poems.
What song are you most proud of off the album, and what are you all most excited to play live?
Chris: There is this song called ‘Conversations’ that Jean mostly wrote. It has a Bohemian Rhapsody vibe to it; it’s a really long song with many moving parts. It’s one of those songs where you have to listen to and understand all the elements in the song.
Luis:I would go with ‘Discipline’;that’s a track with a heavier Tom Groove in it and that part specifically, is one of the most challenging for me to play.
Elijah:I also agree with ‘Discipline’—that one for me is a banger. It gets so intense and it makes me extremely excited to play live.
Pablo: For me, it would either be ‘Discipline’ or ‘Conversations’ because I think those are the two songs that have a lot of moving parts and have the potential to be amazing live.
A lot has been leading up to today, have you guys done anything special to prep for it tonight?
Everyone: We like to do some ritual sacrifices.
Pablo: We tried to do something special with the stage production for the show, so hopefully it all works out the way we planned. *
*Update: It did!
Can you give us a day in the life of Inner Wave?
Chris: We meet up every day at 8:30pm and practice, no matter what we do in that day we always meet up at that time.
What venue would you love to play in the near future?
Chris: The El Rey, because I’ve been going to that venue ever since I was a kid.
Everyone: Red Rocks would be tight, the atmosphere is absolutely crazy.
What are your guy’s all-time favorite albums?
Elijah: Marvin Gaye’s “In Our Lifetime”
Luis: “InnerSpeaker” by Tame Impala
Pablo: That one record from Madvillain.
Chris: “Blonde” by Frank Ocean and “Mista Thug Isolation” by Lil Ugly Mane
Out of all the places you’ve toured, what would be your most memorable gig to date and why?
Everyone: The Rickshaw.
Chris: The crowd was packed; the venue had air conditioning and let us smoke in the greenroom. Also, when we were waiting to play, there was a line going around the block.
Pablo:The first concert I was brought to was this contemporary Christian Latin American guy named Marcos Witt, but the first concert I bought tickets for was Queens of the Stone Age. It was actually a benefit concert, and so they had other acts like the Last Shadow Puppets and some other surprise guest.
Luis:I grew up around punk music, so my brother would play shows at The Knitting Factory in LA and I would always hang around him.
Chris: The first concert I got brought to was Maroon 5; it was when Songs About Jane came out and the first time I ever smelled weed before. The first one I bought tickets to was Erykah Badu.
Elijah: The first one, my dad took me to see a Led Zeppelin cover band. The first one that I paid for was FYF Fest a few years ago, the year that The Strokes played.
Now that the album’s out, what are you guys looking forward to come this year and into next year?
Pablo: Long naps and a lot of sleep—maybe take my dog for a walk.
A message to all your fans?
Pablo: Keep on rockin
Chris: Y’all thanks!
Elijah: Huge thank you to everyone!
Pablo: Felt a lot of love this year—it’s intense, so thank you!
Gallery of the Inner Wave Album Release Show below:
(All photographs by Kayla Fernandez)
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