When Italian heavy-psych band Desert Wave contacted me to review their recent album, ‘Deafening Silence,’ I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. This was the first time a band contacted me and followed through on the details. Being a small, independent site, this doesn’t happen every day. I had nagging questions: What if I didn’t like the album? What if I did like it, but the band didn’t follow through with anything? What if I didn’t know what to do?
My first listen took care of the first question, and the more I listened to it the more I liked it. I wrote a quick response, they wrote me back right away, taking care of the second. This answered my third question, and I knew I had to to interview the band. I became fascinated by what I was hearing. Not just the King Buffalo parts, but all the other stuff surrounding a bands choices about what and how to record.
I came up with 11 topics and a bunch of questions about the who, what, where and why of it all. In the end, I got more than I expected, and faster than I thought was possible. Desert Wave went all-in on this project, and for the most part the results speak for themselves. I’ve edited this in only one way- I inserted paragraphs to make for an easier read. Other than that, I haven’t changed a thing. Remember, the guys are from Italy, so there may be some grammatical errors.
I hope you enjoy this look at an emerging band, and that you choose to support them if you can. I definitely think Desert Wave is worth checking out.
Desert Wave is:
Enrico “Burton” Dalla Pozza: Guitar
Luca “Logan” Adamati: Bass
Andrea “Drugo” Vetri: Drums
Andrea “Spazza” Rigoni: Maestro, Engineer, Mix
1. Tell as more about where you are, where you live. What’s the music scene like? Are there good venues? Who are the bands that tour the area?
Drugo: We live in the province of Vicenza, in the North-East of Italy (Venice is only 60 km away). Well… in general, the Italian music scene isn’t proactive towards our genre and it’s something we often talk about among ourselves and with other bands. Unlike Germany and Northern Europe, Italy doesn’t have many psychedelic/stoner/doom festivals. There is Pietrasonica (which we attended last year), Stonerkras, Desert Fox Fest, DunaJam in Sardinia (which is our dream to be able to attend) and a few others. Even the pubs and clubs are few and generally they play cover bands of historical groups such as AC/DC, Black Sabbath or Motorhead, as they bring more people (and therefore more beers and income). We like them too, but they kill the creativity of those like us who make their own music.
At Pietrasonica we talked about this with Veuve, an excellent band of nice guys who are also among the organizers of the festival, in addition to the problem of bureaucracy to organize an event like this, there is also the fact that the stoner is not a musical genre that is culturally part of Italy even if in the 70s there were groups such as le Orme, Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, PFM and Goblin who were among the forerunners of psychedelia and prog. I could write a book on this subject… Anyway, there are many very good bands in our area, Ufomammut, Kayleth and Humulus, just to name a few who have also managed to go to festivals abroad, but sadly there are many more who do not have the possibility to emerge precisely because there are no venues and events and few listen to this musical genre, and this is a bit depressing and discouraging.
2. You put out an album in May of 2022, Lost in Dunes, and then released this 6 months later. That’s pretty quick, can you tell us if that was planned. Are they related to each other? Was recording the second album different than the first?
Drugo: To be honest, we released the first album “Lost in Dunes” in 2017 but only on Bandcamp, but just this year we also distributed it on other digital music platforms. The songs for “Lost in Dunes” we wrote in one go as soon as we formed. Logan and I were already playing in another band that disbanded, so we put an ad to search for a guitarist and Burton came along. We started out doing Kyuss and Sungrazer covers but we also did our own songs and when these were good enough we went to Spazza to record them. We didn’t want to be a cover band, we were looking for our identity in the stoner roots, to bring our songs around and meet new bands, this has always been our goal. Our first concert was opening for Gozu, I remember the first song was a real disaster!! But as always in the end we had fun and that’s what counts.
With the new album, however, we went looking for a more psychedelic sound. We have noticed that in the rehearsal room we are able to give our best with very long jam sessions, a kind of lysergic and hypnotic psychedelic suites in the style of Color Haze and Causa Sui, which usually last even more then half an hour. There have been nights where we could have recorded a full album as it was made, with no edits and no overdubs.
The song “Lost in Dunes” was born just like this: during the recording of the album Spazza told us that we still had some time left and we started jamming. So we recorded the 15 minute piece off the cuff, and it went straight to the disc with no other overdubs or manipulations afterward. “Deafening Silence” sadly isn’t as psychedelic as I would have liked, maybe only Outside really is, but we’re always afraid that when people listen to these kind of long pieces they get bored, so we tend to put more riffs and more different parts.
Aside from Endless Night, which was a song we dusted off from an old jam session from 2015, the songs on the new record were written during the pandemic and the album title perfectly describes the situation we were experiencing. Here in Italy there was an eerie, unnatural and weird silence on the streets during the hardest time everyone was at home scared and terrified of covid. Even Logan’s songs and lyrics have an eerie quality to them as if there is a dark presence around us. It took us almost a year to define them, also because we couldn’t find ourselves in the rehearsal room as much as we would have liked due to family commitments. Compositionally we added the synth in Outside and this was a complete novelty for us, We will have put it in other songs as well, but in the end we decided to fill it with the guitar, because we thought it was more complicated for us to do a live with the synth. Let’s see how that goes, but we’ll definitely try again on the next record.
3. When we first met, you referenced King Buffalo as a major influence. Yeah, I hear that on the first couple of tracks, but then you diverge significantly from that kind of jammy/spacey vibe that they have. Instead of me figuring out the other influences, who are they?
Drugo: Let’s say that all three of us have different influences but the big important bands bring us together. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Kyuss, 70s hard rock and grunge are the musical basis of all of us. Logan and I love Korn and Tool and I grew up listening to all Seattle grunge. Then, in the last decade I started listening more and more to psychedelic bands like Color Haze, Causa Sui, and especially Sungrazer, a fabulous Dutch band who sadly stopped too soon. King Buffalo has been a constant listen for me for the past 4 years along with Somali Yacht Club, Stoned Jesus, My Sleeping Karma and Karma to Burn, as well as post rock (God is an astronaut) and post metal bands like Russian Circles e Pelican.
Honestly, I can’t identify these influences on the record, because we’ve been playing for long enough to have developed our own style. In the sense that we know each other so well musically that when we are in the rehearsal room we enter a modality in which we often manage to find an incredible intensity and balance, as if it were a form of communication between us, many times I already know the riff that Burton will do after a certain part of song in a jam session, and the long psychedelic recordings prove it. Few times we speak, we let our instruments do it, and that’s a great thing for me. Then when it comes to fine-tuning a song… we argue a lot (hahaha!!). No, maybe we discuss more, but in the end we know that what matters is making a good song, not just bringing out an instrument.
Logan: it’s like that for me too. I listen to all hard rock and heavy metal, but also extreme genres like death metal and black metal. Also my main musical influences are undoubtedly the fathers of hard rock/doom Black Sabbath, then Kyuss and Sleep. Among the most current bands certainly the King Buffalo and My Sleeping Karma.
4. Your influences are also very cinematic. Do you get inspired by any particular movies or directors? I find Italian bands pull from a wider cultural pool than most others, am I right about that?
Drugo: Nice question… I’ve never thought about it, but actually I think it’s true that Italians tend more to contaminate music even with cult films or directors. I designed the album cover and artwork (which I hope will come out on vinyl too) and I was inspired by Blade Runner 2049. I love sci-fi like the Matrix and I loved TV series like “The Walking Dead”, with Logan I have in common also the passion of the films of Dario Argento, a horror director of the 80s. Logan is a real fan of horror movies and he better tell about it.
Logan: I’m a real fan of movies and TV series, especially horror. I love those of the 60s, 70s, 80s and modestly in Italy in those years there were true masters of horror like Argento, Bava, Fulci to name a few. Obviously this influences my musical choices a lot and the way I create the bass parts
5. Logan: I’m a bass player myself, and I’m usually biased when listening- it’s the first thing I focus on. Your playing is interesting, going from the King Buffalo-style support in Outside Parts 1 and 2, to a completely different tone and aggression in Deafening Silence and rest of the album. What basses are you using? Strings? Pick or fingers or both? You also use effects, extremely effectively. What pedals are you using, and do you go direct into a board or are you using an amp?
Logan: in fact I like to change the sound of the bass decisively to create the right atmosphere and the most suitable mood for a certain song. I use a Bass Fender Precision American 4 string Dr DDT-45, then as pedals I use Boss and mainly Phase shifter, a Delay and a distortion. I use a Gallien Kruger 700Rb head and Gallien Kruger 4×10 cabinet.
6. Drugo: a few bands lately have the drums pretty far back in the mix, but on this album they’re given full attention with the rest of the band. Was this on purpose? You also make very interesting choices on fills and change-ups. Where most drummers try to squeeze as much in as possible, like Neil Peart, you chose to play very simply, especially on Vortex. In my experience that’s more difficult to pull off, since everything has to be perfect and there’s no room for error. How did you learn this tyle, and who do you listen to for inspiration? Again, I have some ideas, so we will compare notes. Also, what is your kit composed of as far as drums/cymbals?
Drugo: I really like the sound of the drums on the record, but it is a feature of Spazza to balance the instruments well. Neil Peart was fantastic and unique in his genre, as is Danny Carey of Tool, but here we are talking about unattainable levels both from a stylistic and compositional point of view. They create crazy fills, in particular I love Danny Carey’s ones, difficult and demanding, but always in absolute harmony with the songs. But the absolute drummer I’d like to get closest to stylistically is Dave Turncrantz of the Russian Circles. For me he is absolutely wonderful, I spend hours enchanted to see his concerts on YouTube. He manages to create some incredible grooves with a very simple set up and very similar to mine.
Like him, I use a Ludwig Drums but mine is in maple with a 24 bass drum, an 18 tom and a 13 tom. As a snare, I use the Ludwig Copperphonic which has a warm, deep and full-bodied sound. Like Dave, I also use the Istanbul Xist Agop cymbal series but with smaller sizes than his (Ride 22″, Crash 20″ and 19″, Hihat 15″). In the recording of the album, however, I used the Paiste 2002 series which according to Spazza performed better in the recording.
As for the simplicity of the drums on the album, it’s true, there aren’t many fills and it hasn’t been “colored” with so many small passages or little cymbals that maybe were there too (and that I would have liked to have done), but I was inspired a lot by Scott Donaldson of King Buffalo (also one of my favorites and he uses a Ludwig with my same set up but with an extra 16″ floor tom, which I also use in the rehearsal room) in which he is very precise and linear and gives the songs a more hypnotic and psychedelic style. What I wanted to bring out on the record was this lysergic and somewhat gloomy atmosphere of the songs, such as Red Star pt.1 and Acheron by King Buffalo. If I had made more complicated fills perhaps the songs wouldn’t have had the same impact. Overall I’m happy with what came out but sometimes I wonder if I had “colored” some passages more how the record would have been.
7. Burton: we both know that no matter how great your bassist and drummer are (and they are), a lot of pressure falls on you. You’re lucky to have Logan and Drugo, but when you get down to business, what guitars do you trust to make such music? Please, walk us through your pedalboard, if possible. Of course, everyone’s going to want to know what kind of amps your using. Lastly, who are your top 3 favorite guitarists?
Burton: For our second album and live now I mainly use a hagstom d2h, I changed the pick ups with Seymour Duncans to give more thrust and definition, in the previous album I used a Flying V Epiphone also revisited in the pick ups and electronics , how tuning we play in drop c, I use ernie ball 54-11 strings, as regards the pedalboard I essentially use a treble boost pedal by laney, an ernie ball volume pedal as modulations I use a phaser and a flanger, finally a delay by tc electronic shot in the orange rockerverb 50 mk1 dirty channel. I listen and try to take inspiration from many guitarists, the main ones are definitely Tony Iommi, Jimi Hendrix and finally to name one of a little more recent who inspires me a lot is Color Haze guitarist Stefan Koglek
8. One of the fun things I do when I hear a new band is imagine they’re on tour or on a festival. In my mind, right now I’d like to hear you- with American band Lo-Pan opening, followed by Desert Wave, then Spaceslug with Colour Haze closing. What is your ideal line-up to tour with. What festivals or concert halls are on your wishlist? Are you on tour and do you have any gigs lined up?
Desert Wave, live at the Pietra Sonica Festival
Drugo: Definitely King Buffalo!!! However, a tour with the bands you described would also be great! Our main goals is to have fun doing what we enjoy and to be able to play with the bands we love. There are many other bands we would love to tour with, My Sleeping Karma, Stoned Jesus, Somali Yacht Club, Naxatras, All Them Witches, in general all the bands from the “Sound of Liberation” roster, the ones that play in those beautiful DesertFest and psychedelic/stoner festivals in Germany and Northern Europe. Well, we would love to participate in those events not only as spectators and then it would be very cool to be invited to play at DunaJam. If you can dream it you can do it some would say! We hope. In the meantime, unfortunately we don’t have any dates for now and no tour due to the difficulties I was telling you about at the beginning
9. Spazza did a great job recording and mastering this album. Can you tell us a bit about the studio, how you met Spazza and what was the most difficult part of the recording process.
Drugo: Spazza is very professional and friendly. He is the guitarist of Derozer, a well-known punk band in our area. He’s really good and very knowledgeable. He has been recording bands for more than 15 years now and this is the fourth time I go to record with him. I have always felt good and at ease. He has infinite patience (which is essential) and meets you for every need. We’ve known him for quite a while, Logan and I recorded his first album a dozen years ago with the old band. As always we record the drum parts first which I do accompanied by guitar and bass as we don’t have a very linear song structure and it’s difficult without the rhythmic line.
I don’t use the click and you hear in a couple of places on the record that I speed up slightly as the emphasis of the song increases. By recording digitally everything is easier, you can correct many imperfections, but to tell the truth we didn’t do many. Then there are the guitar overdubs and adding their effects. Overall it took us very little, because by now he knows us and knows what we want, in practice we did almost all the work in one weekend. It is a very comfortable studio with an impressive mixer that will have more than 80 channels which gives a touch of high professionalism and seriousness. Unfortunately, he’s moving to another place soon, but we don’t know what it’s like. When we record the next album I’ll tell you…
10. Okay, I’ve asked a lot of questions, and I’ll probably think of more. But in your opinion, what makes Desert Wave so special to the three of you? What do you want everyone to know about the band, and what’s next for you?
Drugo: I couldn’t tell you… if I have to tell you the truth, we also argue from time to time and we don’t have the same vision of things, and it’s normal to be like this. But when we are in our rehearsal room a perfect alchemy is almost always created between us, we find a balance that is not only musical but also emotional which often turns into a very captivating psychedelic energy. Yes, probably the musical alchemy that we manage to create between us is our hallmark and that makes our group unique and truly special. If we could carry this alchemy on record it would be the perfect album and if we could express it on stage it would be a fantastic live. In the future… we don’t know exactly yet, surely we would like to participate in some festivals and open for a concert of our favorite bands. Personally I’d like to make a King Buffalo Acheron-style record, only 3 or 4 songs but very long and intense as we often do in the rehearsal room. So… we’ll see…
11. Oops, one more. If someone wants to book you, who do they contact?
Desert Wave contacts: