I rarely dig this far back into my past when blogging, but for the sake of background, I'll be revealing a bit about my teenage years in Sacramento, CA. I was studying drums formally and performing regularly with some friends from another high school in a local alt-rock outfit called Harper. Our influences were very '90s: Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins, Deftones, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, etc. Levi Winegar was the band's rhythm guitarist and manager, but he could also play drums -- and quite well. His main influences were Abe Cunningham of Deftones and Matt Cameron of Soundgarden. (Being less focused, I was trying to bring together Cunningham, STP's Eric Kretz, and something resembling Live's Chad Gracey.) After disbanding around 1999, we all went different directions, physically and musically, and over the years, Levi and I inadvertently switched instruments. Having neither the space for the drum set nor the understanding neighbors, I now play guitar. Levi is up-and-coming in the Kansas City scene as the drummer of Waiting for Signal.
Make no mistake: Waiting for Signal is pure rock -- heavy, dark, and adrenalized -- but unlike most overdriven, testosterone-fueled acts, their sound is also well-crafted and deliberate. Drawing inspiration from Queens of the Stone Age, Interpol, Failure, Dredg, and KC heroes Shiner and Season to Risk, W4S bolsters their songs with thick, chunky chords, queasy guitar lines, and refreshingly strange melodies. "Illogical" is solid and punchy but also distinguishes itself with some crunching, unconventional chords in its verse. They show a knack for the atmospheric with the ethereal, echoing layers of guitar in "Vegas." Ryan Bates's creative lead contributions are almost ambient, giving the tunes a depth seldom heard in bands like this. Nice, too, to hear Gene Abramov's unique vocals, ranging from a haunting new-wave drone to a modern rock scream, especially on the radio-ready "Mistakes of the Century." This tune and "Sending the Generation" are also great examples of how Winegar's ideas keep the music both fresh and aggressive. His playing introduces variety, intelligence, chops, and dynamics to a genre in which most drummers would merely keep (very loud) time.
Head to any of their shows and pick up The Catastrophe EP. Several songs are also available at TheirSpace.
The Catastrophe EP [Amazon; iTunes]
Waiting for Signal
Gene Abramov: vocals, guitar
Ryan Bates: guitar
Brent Kastler: bass
Levi J. Winegar: drums
[Cover art by David Iseri.]