Wavves’ Nathan Williams expands, and clears, horizons

Wavves frontman Nathan Williams, pictured in 2013, has sobered up and added musicians to his lineup for the new album “V.” (Charles Sykes / Invision / AP)

Nathan Williams, a San Diego punk-popper who used to subscribe to the DIY mindset as virtual one-man band Wavves, has expanded his horizons for his latest fifth album, “V.” He has included guitarist Alex Gates, bassist Stephen Pope and drummer Brian Hill for beefier anthems like “Tarantuala,” “Heart Attack” and “Heavy Metal Detox.” “They’re the only reason that I can still do this,” he says. “If I wouldn’t have made it a band? Wavves wouldn’t even be a thing anymore.”

The year leading up to “V” was turbulent, starting with a breakup, then bouts of paranoia?
Yeah, I’ve been through a breakup. But paranoia is kind of a recurring theme. And I’m not sure really when it started. I’ve just always been like that. And for me, it brings up all sorts of other emotions, and it makes you second-guess yourself and think further into things than you need to. It’s just really disruptive.

And you were drinking so much, you were plowing through 100 beers a night?

It was actually more like 120 a night, I think. But that’s between six or seven people. But I’m 29 now, and partying like that is something that we’re not into anymore. I feel like I’m focused now. I feel like, at some point, the amount of substance and alcohol that you can take can bog you down, if you don’t stay on top of it. Plus, I just don’t have the drive to wake up every single day and drink until I pass out.

Was there a moment where you got that message, clearly?

Not that I can remember. But if you drink and rage every single night on tour, it just wears you down. And after a while, if you want to keep making music, you have to choose your battles. And as a group, we realized that, and we all did personally, too. So a lot of this record is about self-medicating, and trying to deal with personal problems by drinking and doing other stuff. Which never really works out.

You need to grow as an artist.

Well, I’ve gotten offers to write the soundtracks to a couple of movies recently, and the workload is just really crazy. And there are a couple of other things starting to happen. But I couldn’t begin to take any of them on if I was as fucked up as I’ve been in the past. You can’t write music that’s difficult when you’re incoherent. So now I’ve realized that this is my job, my lifelong career. And I want to continue to do it.


Where: Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Ave., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 10
Tickets: $22
Contact: (415) 474-0365, www.ticketfly.com

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