Animal Waves has unleashed the band’s high-energy sound with the recent release of their debut EP1. The band is the lovechild of guitarist, Robert Wayne Davis, which includes Charles Salvaggio on bass and drummer Matt Zavorski.
The Carbondale, IL, native Davis has honed his skills while playing with the likes of Slash, Lauryn Hill, Marc Ford, Waddy Wachtel, and Eric Gales over the years. Teaming up writing partner Nathaniel Cox, they set out to create a vintage yet unique sound that is expressed through Animal Waves. In addition to the new EP, be sure to check the bands mash-up/cover of Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks” and Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels”.
Music Madness: Hey man I love the energy you bring. Congrats on the new music and your new band, Animal Waves.
Music Madness: How big of a difference was it to go from a session guitar player to putting together your own band?
Robert: Well, you know, I guess it’s been a long time coming. I’ve had two friends in particular that have always said to me, “Hey man, you gotta do something.” Meaning you go out there and create something, you know. Singing had never really been my focus so whenever it became apparent to me that the time had come. Many years have passed and experience was kind of under my belt and as a guitar player, I have definitely put in a lot of time and many hours of just playing by myself, playing with other people, touring, studios, and all different kinds of stuff. I got into the production aspect, trying to capture stuff immediately without having to like go through an engineer and go through a studio and stuff like that. I collected some cool gear, set up a home studio that I felt was sonically viable, and something that you could take to mastering and it would be capable.
So over the years, I just loved that so much to where it was like, “Okay, here I am, Nathaniel Cox, the guy that writes and plays this stuff” with me in the studio and helps me do the correction and all that kind of the stuff. We’ve been working together for years and God love him, he’s a force to be reckoned with so his motivation in the studio and how he inspires me, I inspire him.
That’s how this stuff came about and just producing and mixing it myself. Of course, Nathaniel co-produced the stuff with me but a lot of the time, just being here on my own and doing it is kind of crazy. Some people consider it a mistake, some people can say to each his own but when we have a really good time making it and it’s been years of experience coming to this moment and stepping out to the mic just feels natural.
Music Madness: Your videos are seriously high energy. Your ass needs to be on stage in front of a wild crowd playing ’cause that shit can fire someone up. Complete chaos.
Robert: That’s beautiful man. I love it. That is what it’s all about is we are here to entertain. We want to be a piece of art for people you know what I mean. We’re not trying to be anything more than what we are and we’re just glad to be playing music.
Music Madness: Do you have a specific vision for the band’s sound? What kind of influences are you drawing from to create to what you want?
Robert: Yeah absolutely man. Well I can tell you, we have a lot of music recorded, we have a lot of music in the works. Our influences that we pull from, Zeppelin, Radiohead, Petty, Queens of the Stone Age, Rolling Stones, stuff like that, we have a wide range of music but it’s new and old and we also are just gigantic fans of Jay-Z and Kendrick and Chance. Love all that stuff. Man, we’re just huge fans and so what we are trying to do is just listen to that stuff, soak it up and still maintain this 3-piece sound that we’ve gone for and who knows.
Maybe one day we will add like an oboe player. Maybe a xylophone… who knows.
Music Madness: Yeah right. Explore and get crazy.
Robert: Right now. We want to keep it just 3 piece and go for it like that for a long time. Enjoy that purity, you know.
Music Madness: I hear you. You need to break out the electric violins like Starset and just explore all kinds of madness.
Robert: Yeah. I’m glad you’re feeling it man. It means the world.
Music Madness: Definitely. Are you guys planning to do any kind of touring? Or is it like, “Let’s keep writing music and just see what happens and then go from there?”
Robert: We are trying to get out there and play as much as possible. If somebody offers us a show and has a spot for us, we’re going to be playing.
Music Madness: I would love to see you guys play some of those small intimate venues. I think that it lends so well to the music to that live experience and just that whole vibe.
Robert: Exactly. Exactly. That’s what it’s all about man. I mean, and then maintaining that over the years. You know that integrity. Look at Paul McCartney, man. He has done that for years. Just run to the small places, not tell anybody until maybe an hour before the gig and then it’s full. Really just, maintain that grassroots mentality which is dope.
Music Madness: Those small venues tend to bring in music fans not necessarily Animal Waves fans. They love music and they just have an appreciation of the live experience.
Robert: Right man, the fabric of our beautiful country, that’s right.
Music Madness: How did the name Animal Waves come about?
Robert: Yeah, man. So my manager was, he was like, “Yo man, go down the path.” ‘Cause we were looking for band names. He’s like, “Go down the path of maybe something kind of mystical and where you’re from.” It’s very rural where I’m from and it’s out in the middle of nowhere.
I was like this is going to be difficult. What are my homeboys gonna do? I started going through some catalogs of music and listening and listening and listening and there was a song that hit me but there’s a band called, “Can” C-A-N. They have a song called “Animal Waves”, off an album called “Saw Delight.” It’s a beautiful fucking song, I love it, and it hit me hard. The name struck me in the face and I was like, “You know, I love that.” I just had to have the name.
It was important to me and they came up with it but the name of the song is really went well with our band. It’s just an homage. This rock and roll thing is all about homage. It’s all a tip to the hats that they came before us and they did the same thing. I believe in that torch and over the years, people like Bernard Fowler, God bless him, he’s helped me carry the torch from time to time and just holding it for the night is unbelievable, you know? And with Lauryn Hill, holding it with her, in that time was unbelievable.
Music Madness: I’m sure.
Robert: And doing that song with Slash, which video with him was unbelievable and you don’t sit there and hold it. There’s ways to pass it on to other people, you just keep sharing opportunity, and I think that’s the beautiful thing in music, you know.
Music Madness: Yeah. Sharing the love and the knowledge is how this thing continues to grow and evolve.
Robert: Yeah, that’s it man. That’s it and this is, and I know a lot of people see it this way too which is a beautiful thing but it’s a community and then once the community starts to need each other then it’s just fucking instant family.
Music Madness: Yeah. I have a passion for music but lack the talent so I was like, “What’s the next best thing?” I was like being involved helping bands and musicians to spread their sound.
Robert: Absolutely. Absofuckinglutely man. That’s beautiful.
Music Madness: Tell us about your mashup, man. That thing was crazy.
Robert: Yeah man so the cover, the recording of a cover and the filming of a cover was not high on our priority list to tell you the truth. One day, our manager, Mike called us and he was like, “Yo, what about doing a cover?” I said, “I don’t know. What about it?” And he suggested some things, we mulled it over, we talked for a week about some things and Tom Petty had just recently passed, God rest his soul.
It was one of those moments where we were like “Yeah, maybe some Tom Petty would be cool.” Mike said Tom Petty, definitely mashup because he knows how much I love Zeppelin and he loves Zeppelin. Gotta love Jimmy. Gotta love John. Gotta love Robert. Gotta love ’em all. But, what to do right? What songs to do?
It’s kind of a blur. I don’t know if he suggested “When The Levee Breaks” or I did or if he suggested the Tom Petty song, “You Don’t Know How It Feels” or if I did. We were kinda like in this moment, which was blurry, but we both came up with it right there in terms of what two songs to mend together.
But how to do it was kind of like a smack in the face because after hanging up the phone and just kind of walking away and Brianna, my fiancée, was making some soup in the kitchen and it was like a nice moment, sun was setting. I live up here at the mountain at the moment. I was like, “Oh that’s gonna be fucking easy.” It just clicked like what to do and how I would do it and I hope I didn’t make anybody mad doing this because we’re just having fun, right?
Music Madness: Right.
Robert: And we were tipping our hat to these people, our forefathers here so what felt right was just to do ’em both in some respect, I cannot sing like Robert Plant. I can sing more in a comfortable range like Tom, you know.
And not try to do something that I can’t and it’s fun, man. It’s really fun. Like now, that we’re playing it live, we’ve added a little bit more of the Zeppelin lyrics into a part and it’s good man, it’s really, really fun. We have a great time doing it. That was like our third take, I believe, something like that and we had never really rehearsed it before that. We just went into the studio and earlier that morning was our first fucking show ever at the Warped Tour in Ventura, California at 11:30am.
Music Madness: Awesome.
Robert: Anyway, we did the Warped Tour and drive back to North Hollywood. We jump into the Steakhouse Studios open on Hollywood and we just spent the night there recording. We recorded three or four songs and those two live takes, “WTF” came out of it, “When The Levee Breaks”, and the Tom Petty song, “You Don’t Know How It Feels.” So it was fun, man.
Music Madness: That was a productive day man.
Robert: Yeah, that’s what we like to do when we get in and get after it.
Music Madness: What kind of feedback have you had?
Robert: You know, man. Oh God, it’s just been all positive. I haven’t had anybody yell at me yet. Well, you know, there’s always those purists. If there’s something to complain about, they will. You know that. Come on.
Yeah, you can look at this thing and know that we are just having fun. We’re not trying too hard here. We’re just playing and rocking out, you know.
Music Madness: Well, it works. I really enjoyed it. I am actually excited to see what you come up with next.
Check out Animal Waves: