A Conversation With WATERS: Old School Passion In New School Pop
  • THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2015

  • Posted by: Erin Walsh

Van Pierszalowski has had an interesting journey in his creative processes in the past few years. He grew up in Alaska but he lives in California, also where his ex-band, Port O'Brien was based, although he named it after the port where his parents met in Alaska. He decided to veer away the specific biographical nature he had with the band Port O'Brien, and with that decision, he started WATERS.



"I wanted to create a more open-ended, sort of free-flowing expression, that's what we're going for...I knew I wanted to keep it evolving and changing, so WATERS is the broadest way to accomplish that," he told us when describing the story behind the band name.

In this band, Pierszalowski took a different direction from the folk-based origins of Port O'Brien. He recorded his first album for WATERS with a band he met in Oslo, Norway, where the project was born. The finishing product was the record Out in the Light, what Pierszalowski describes as the bridge between Port O'Brien, and what WATERS is today; a sound he describes as an ever-changing "loud, hook instilled, guitar driven rock, definitely with modern pop sensibilities mixed in there."

When returning to California after releasing Out in the Light, he was already anticipating the next record to write for WATERS, and he formed a new band to achieve it. He'd gone to school with drummer Andrew Wales and he met members Brian DaMert, Greg Sellin, Sara DaMert of the Tambo Rays when they were on the same bill for a show they played at a bookstore.



The latest release What's Real is the product of the new band, and only further down the path Pierszalowski wanted to explore in the first place. For What's Real -- which premiered this past April -- he teamed up with producer, drummer, and Port O'Brien fan, Ryan Rabin of Grouplove and hit the studio. Despite working with Rabin for the final product, Pierszalowski said the biggest influences for the record were from early 90s acts that he grew up idolizing. "Early Green Day stuff, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Cranberries, you know, those were basically pop songs, and that was a cool moment where there were still really raw, real songs on the radio," he said.

Pop songs on the radio nowadays may not be of the same substance of what we may have heard in the top 40 cycle 20 years ago, but Pierszalowski has a vision for bringing back that sound with a different energy.

"For WATERS, I wanted to draw on modern influences with a focus on pop writing, like bringing out sensibilities with that era I grew up listening to with modern pop."



He connects to pop acts today like Radio Department, and even R&B and hip-hop, mentioning the Weeknd as one of the acts he enjoys.

WATERS is currently on tour with pop band MisterWives, a tour that's of a totally different nature than any Port O'Brien tour. Pierszalowski explained that playing this kind of music brings out a bit of a younger crowd, where the energy is high, and it's contagious.

The tour with MisterWives has only a few weeks left, and after a few headlining shows in February, Pierszalowski is wasting no time before getting back into the studio for the next record. He hopes to release new music as soon as the summer, and he even already has an idea of what kind of music he wants to write. Regardless of some ideas, he emphasizes that his music is never really planned, it always just happens.

"I think we will continue to evolve just as songwriting is mysterious and weird. You can't really go into it trying to do something. You can have ideas of where you want to take things, but at the end of the day, you just have to follow along wherever your music is headed."

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