They say that painting from memory can heighten your ways of seeing, so why not listening? For Alex Wall from Wax Witches, music is an enhanced sensory experience. “I guess I see music more as visuals, if that makes sense”, he says. “A song reminds me visually of a time and place and feeling, and I see it so vividly in my mind. Kind of like a painting. And once the painting is completed, that moment and feeling is captured forever.”
“Memory Painting” is the third album in four years by Wax Witches, the project that originally began as a solo spin-off from Wall’s first band, the good-time Australian garage-pop duo Bleeding Knees Club. Once again completely written, performed and recorded by Wall, the record was mastered in Detroit by Jim Kissling (King Tuff) and is released worldwide via Burger Records (home to key early releases by The Black Lips, Ty Segall and OFF!).
As with his previous album 2014’s “Centre Of Your Universe”, the songs on “Memory Painting” draw inspiration from Wall’s adopted hometown of New York – housesitting for a friend in Williamsburg with a full home studio at his disposal, Alex locked himself away until the album took shape over a feverish recording period of just a couple of weeks. “A song like ‘My Life’ really encapsulates what I went through”, he reveals. “It’s about me packing up everything, and taking a risk to move away and go on an endless adventure. Letting go of all my material things back home in Australia and just taking a chance. And how I guess I’ve lived a weird life compared to my friends, as I’m always travelling, sleeping on couches, and never really have a home or a place of permanence. This way of
living isn’t for everyone.”
The Big Apple informed the songs on “Memory Painting” in other ways, too. The tearaway energy of first single “Habit” owes its rush to Wall’s surroundings – as he explains, “It’s got this dark grimy sound and is short and fast and sexy, kinda like New York”. And musically, “Memory Painting” sees Alex continue to broaden his scope, as has become his restless trademark on every Wax Witches record. There are still traces of his history – the debut album as Wax Witches, 2013’s “Celebrity Beatings” was a lo-fi, snotty brat-punk missive while its follow-up, 2014’s “Centre Of Your Universe” was a sonic sugar-rush – but the “Memory Painting” palette is vast, from the brash shoegaze grittiness of bad seed fable “Danny Delete” to the jangly dream-pop love letter “Morning Flowers”. And as always, there’s nods to some of Alex’s current musical influences and obsessions, like the Spiritualized-esque gospel horns on “Closer To The Lord” and The Jesus & Mary Chainbased spiralling psych of “Honey Lies”.
Lyrically there’s still plenty of self-doubt and paranoia in the Wax Witches universe – songs like “Saved From The Grave” and “I’m Without”tap the dark subject matter of deep anxiety and emotional angst that runs relentlessly through the mind of a twentysomething. But on the flipside there’s plenty of hot-blooded heart too, in songs like the falling-in-lust trip “Love Slowed” (“Take my heart, tie it in chains right before I fall in love again”) and sexed-up rampage of “Habit” (“My mind’s pre-occupied, you’re on it most the time”).
As well as clocking up time in the studio, Wax Witches has amassed a huge amount of touring in the wake of “Centre Of Your Universe” – upon its release in mid-2014 he played a 13-date national USA trek with Drenge [UK], as well as East Coast sets at Burger Records’ “Caravan Of Stars” tour and New York’s CMJ festival. i-D magazine named him one of their “Best New Acts Found at CMJ”. In late 2014 he undertook a massive 17-show Australian run that featured dates supporting Northeast Party House, plus slots at BIGSOUND and the Sounds Of The Suburbs festival.
At the start of 2015 Wax Witches raced to Europe for a frantic February tour, playing 22 gigs in 24 days. He followed that with shows at and around South by Southwest, and closed out The Observatory stage on the first day of Burger Records’ huge Burgerama Four festival alongside Weezer, Ty Segall and FIDLAR. Alongside that he’s played further Australian dates with The Garden [USA], Step-Panther and Big White.