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WAAX: Keeping it real

If you’ve attended any concert, festival or even cast your eyes over the flyer for a gig bill in recent years, you would be hard pressed not to be aware of WAAX.

The Brisbane-based punk quintet have gone from the sweaty DIY floor show scene to triple J backed, international alt-rock ones-to-watch, playing the biggest venues and festivals Australia has to offer.

“For us, this growth has felt very gradual over seven years, so the show has definitely just naturally changed with that,” says front-woman Maz DeVita candidly, when we caught up with her ahead of the band’s huge headline tour in support of their critically acclaimed debut LP Big Grief. 

“We’ll pretty much play all of the album, there’s gonna be some intense and miserable moments, but we’ve also put in the time to make things warm and reflective as well. We want people to really experience the record in the way that we feel about it playing the songs.”

The commitment to staying artistically present is admirable, given the temptation that many bands face to bow to the pressures of the broader industry once they suddenly find themselves with a platform.

“This tour coming up is kind of setting it [the album] free – it’ll be like ‘wow that’s the album tour, its existence is just in the ether now’”, says Maz.

“You don’t have the weight of your past on you when you’re working with a random.”

“We love it dearly though – we nearly cried practicing one of the acoustic songs last night – we still feel so strongly towards these songs.”

Like many before them, getting the first LP out in the world was a major moment for WAAX, underscoring a period of upheaval for the group.

“When it came out there was turmoil, there was shit going on within the band, but we just want to make music now, and it feels like we are finally at peace,” says Maz.

“Making that first album makes the idea of doing album number two far less daunting. The first time around I thought ‘can I fucking do this? I’ve never done it before!'”.

Well, make it they did, and the results speak for themselves, with Big Grief proving to be both an exciting and raw listening experience, simultaneously showcasing the band at their most vulnerable and angry. 

Thankfully for them, they had some of the best guides the industry has to offer, with Powderfinger frontman Bernard Fanning and producer icon Nick DaDia at the helm of the production desk for Big Grief.

“Bernie is still my rock dad” laughs Maz.

“I spoke to Bernie on the phone yesterday – he’s just been around the block heaps and he’s taught us so much…he said ‘ mate, I’ve written more shit songs than you’ve had warm dinners’ – it’s that perspective towards writing – you let the songs happen and if they’re good, they’re good, and if they’re not, don’t beat yourself up about it.”

Maz goes on to explain that since recording the album, she’s had the chance to grow more as a songwriter, with the chance to head to LA for some writing sessions just one of the many periods of growth in her own recent journey.

“You don’t have the weight of your past on you when you’re working with a random” she says.

“We want to share things because we consider our community our family.”

“You just go in there, throw shit at a fan and hope that it works out…and it really worked for me – but I know that some people really struggle with that, because you become really intimate with those people when you’ve only known them for 15 minutes.”

“Working with other people has opened my mind – I’ve tried to write a song that’s not so dark, something that’s a little lighter – that’s been really exciting.”

“But I’m interested as well in exploring polar opposites – having something nice and bright, and then it takes a dark turn suddenly…I’m interested in the psychology of the entire thing.”

As WAAX’s star continues to rise, Maz is adamant that she and the band aren’t getting ahead of themselves, and are aware of the responsibility that’s come with their increased exposure – something that they proved with their well-publicised t-shirt campaign in response to the bushfire disaster in January.”

“It’s amazing that we can use our platform to help others” she says.

“We need to make sure that we are honest, raw and real – we want to share things because we consider our community our family – so everyone is welcome to join us and to be a part of it.”

If you’re a fan of WAAX, it’s hard to imagine them being anything other than raw, honest and real. It’s worked for them so far.

WAAX Australian Tour Dates

Saturday, 28th March
Rock Rover, Fremantle
Tickets: Official Website

Sunday, 29th March
Mojo’s Bar, Fremantle
Tickets: Official Website

Friday, 3rd April
Metro Theatre, Sydney
Tickets: Official Website

Saturday, 4th April
Northern Beaches PCYC, Dee Why
Tickets: Official Website

Thursday, 9th April
Chelsea Heights Hotel, Chelsea Heights
Tickets: Official Website

Friday, 10th April
Barwon Club, Geelong
Tickets: Official Website

Saturday, 11th April
Croxton Ballroom, Melbourne
Tickets: Official Website

Thursday, 16th April
Solbar, Maroochydore
Tickets: Official Website

Friday, 17th April
The Tivoli, Brisbane
Tickets: Official Website

Saturday, 18th April
Kingscliff Beach Hotel, Kingscliff
Tickets: Official Website

Friday, 1st May
Uni Bar, Hobart
Tickets: Official Website

Thursday, 7th May
The Northern, Byron Bay
Tickets: Official Website