Charlottesville duo to gig in Wilmington on Dec. 28
Spicy Latin vibes poured over folksy grooves is what you’ll find in David Wax’s Museum’s latest Mexo-Americana album, “Guesthouse.”
The band from Charlottesville, Va., will perform tunes from that project at The Queen in Wilmington on Thursday.
The outfit features husband-and-wife-duo David Wax and Suz Slezak.
David Wax, who earned a bachelor’s degree in literature and history, discussed how being a student at Harvard University impacted his music, how his wife strengthens one of his weaknesses on stage, and what the recent mood has been like in Charlottesville since the fatal, white nationalist rally in August.
What were your intentions for attending Harvard?
I was really academically focused and motivated throughout my younger years. I went for my first two years of college to a very small alternative school in California called Deep Springs College. It's an all-male school with just 26 students. It's on a working cattle ranch. After having such an alternative first two years of college, I thought something more mainstream would be a nice counterpoint to that. And I knew I was interested and wanted to dig into Latin American history and literature. I knew some of the best historians of Mexico were at Harvard at the time. So I knew I could get to work with those guys. A lot of knowledge is not the defining characteristic at Harvard. But the people there are very ambitious. I wanted to be around that. I wanted to be around the people who were really pushing themselves hard and were really motivated.
In what ways did you push the envelope on "Guesthouse?"
On previous records, there was super precision like a surgical approach where you do one thing at a time and slowly build it up. We wanted to be able to see if we could make something that was a little more organic. And that was playing live, and we'd also add some stuff on top of it. I know it doesn't sound like a radical idea. But for us as a band, at that moment, it felt like we're trying something really different.
How does your wife supplement your weaknesses?
There are some musical things where I don't have any aptitude for harmony singing. Maybe from my background of playing in garage bands in high school, it's easy for me to get into a thrashing mode of playing fast and loud. I feel like Suz is always trying to help rein that in. When it starts being counterproductive, all of a sudden it's so fast that you lose the groove. And it's so loud you can't hear each other. So she helps to make sure we're playing together and singing together. The rock world is so male dominated. There's this facade that we're cool and doing this thing that sets up apart. But I think Suz is so good about breaking that down and connecting with the audience and inviting people into the space.
What's the mood been like since the rally in your hometown?
When we had the election in November for governor, city council and House delegates, the Charlottesville turnout was exceptionally high. People feel we have to be active and we have to be engaged. They feel like we can't sit back and wait on the sidelines with what's going on right now in our country, when those kind of people, [like the neo-Nazis], feel empowered.
[When the neo-Nazis protest started], a lot of people felt like this is not Charlottesville - this is terrible. So many people were hearing about Charlottesville because of all these neo-Nazis. Klansmen descended on our town because they knew it would piss people off here. I think the statues should be taken down. I'm with the vast majority of people here who feel that way.