Waking the Bates: Throwing a Melodic Wrench in the Modern Genre Machine
By Matt Donald
Physically based in the bizarro world that is Atlanta, Georgia, and musically rooted in virtually anything and everything, Waking the Bates refuse to pin themselves down to one simplistic genre. While so many bands that don’t fit a specific mold are quick to state that they have a little something for everyone, Waking the Bates really does have something for every listener who enjoys soaring melodies, clever songwriting devices, and dynamics (all of which have been recently added to the musical endangered species list).
Anyone who sees the band perform for the first time will not only take delight in WTB’s keep-you-on-your-toes material, but will also revel in the diversity of the crowd enjoying the show. Attending a Bates show is a fascinating, inspirational, and traffic-less microcosm of the city of Atlanta: endless diversity in sights and sounds, multiple levels with twists and turns, and an overall memorable experience that replays in the audience’s head time and time again.
The band doesn’t attempt to be different for the sake of coming off unusual, however. Fans of pre-Kid A Radiohead, Pearl Jam, and deep tracks of The Black Keys will readily latch on to Waking the Bates’ sound and songs. With that stated, fedora and skinny jeans-wearing hipsters who have already somehow heard of Waking the Bates before actually hearing of Waking the Bates will enjoy the band’s creativity and ability to eschew typical trends in their musicality.
Turning attention to what occurs on stage, the band consists of five pleasantly eccentric guys whose approach to music and performing is refreshing in an era where so many bands are caught up with image and achieving “the” look or sound. Singer/guitarist/keyboardist Bach states, “We just write what comes out and if we like what we hear and have fun playing it, we keep it. If not, we try something else.” Guitarist Strange also agrees, saying “For us, genre has never been important. In fact, I don’t even know what genre means. We just play what we dig and no matter what, our songs have quite a bit of melody that people seem to like.” But don’t expect easily-digestible verse/chorus/verse/chorus feel-good happy tunes. Although the members often cut-up and make jokes on stage, their approach is serious, and their music is seriously infectious, especially when listening to the band’s diversified work through headphones.
Whether a live show or through their recorded material, the band delivers a fresh performance where all five members simultaneously stand out as individuals and meld together with their performances. Thankfully, the band’s overall bluesy spectrum of biotic sound reminds us that there still is contemporary music that doesn’t sound like it was made by robots or computers.