The Wave Pictures may be an indie band, but they’re not an indie band.
That’s what Franic Rzycki wants critics and listeners of his Wymeswold, England, pop rock trio to understand. He says the band, now touring the U.S., is more influenced by the classic rock ‘n’ roll of Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones and early Fleetwood Mac than any safe, modern rock band.
What’s more, the bassist boasts about the group’s instrumental prowess. Knowing how to play your instrument is distinctly non-indie, Rzycki says. Rzycki is disappointed by the snobby hipsters his band attracts, especially in the U.K. He rejects bands such as alt-rockers Coldplay, who are “pissing away time and money for something mediocre.”
“That music doesn’t interest me at all,” he says.
Instead, Rzycki and his bandmates — drummer Jonny Helm and singer-guitarist Dave Tattersall, Rzycki’s friend of more than 20 years — prefer to entertain crowds with a musicianship overlooked from the group’s prolific collection of albums. The Wave Pictures’ twelfth album, Long Black Cars, was released April 17.
Rzycki says he and Tattersall are known as the group’s curmudgeons by drummer Helm. Though Rzycki considers Helm’s rationality grounding for the band, he finds his and Tattersall’s complaining justified and an important perspective for living.
“If you don’t dislike something, how can you fall in love with something else,” he reasons.
He speaks from Austin, Texas, while his mates enjoy an outdoor pool fueled by the Barton Springs. The band is taking a break from its April-May tour with pop quartet Allo Darlin’. Rzycki says attendance for the tour has been on and off. The bands sold out a show at New York’s Mercury Lounge while a gig at the Spanish Moon in Baton Rouge, La., only attracted about 10 people.
Crowd enthusiasm is key for a Wave Pictures show, as the band doesn’t use setlists. Frontman Tattersall picks songs based on how he feels in the moment.
“I think it’s important that when you go to a live show,” Rzycki says, “you see something that’s different.”
Despite the band’s mixed reception, the 29-year-old says the Americans he’s met are “very polite.” He considers this tour much more successful than the band’s previous one in North America, which Rzycki called “disheartening” for its poor organization and poor promotion.
“We got the worst impression of America,” he says. “This tour is really changing that.”
“She was kind of shy about it,” he says. “You don’t get offered to get sodomized every day.”
In the band’s native U.K., audiences are colder. Rzycki says this is because the band attracts a crowd of indie snobs turned off by the band’s non-indie appearance and most certainly non-indie guitar solos.
Rzycki expresses disappointment at how the band’s rocker side is ignored by critics and reviews. He says the problem with indie crowds is they frown on instrumental ability, such as his beloved soloing. He names New York act The Wows, French act Coming Soon and Stanley Brinks as artists whose live shows actually impress him.
The Wave Pictures have existed for 14 years, but Rzycki met singer Tattersall when they were 4. They’ve played guitars, moved to and from London and got a record deal together.
The difference now that the band is a career is worrying about making money and compromising with necessary evils instead of playing purely for pleasure.
“It’s not 100 percent fun anymore,” he says. “But it’s still a fantastic job.”
The process of making videos is a “pain in the ass” to Rzycki for its slowness. This contrasts with the band’s work in the studio, where, to capture true rock ‘n’ roll spirit, it records and produces music as quickly as possible.
“It’s hard to understand how some bands are very slow, unproductive,” Rzycki says.
Yet he recognizes that the band’s most popular songs are from videos and special online releases.
“We’d be screwed without it,” he says.
Even as career musicians, Rzycki and Tattersall make sure they get in a game of pool at every town and in every venue they play. Rzycki, addicted to the game since both men got cheap, foldout pool tables as boys, says they can play for 3 hours straight and into the wee hours of the morning.
After the spring tour, the Pictures will play festivals, including NYC Pop Festival and Green Man Festival in Powys, U.K. Rzycki doesn’t look forward to this leg of the tour. He much prefers local venues and smaller festivals — such as End of the Road in North Dorset, U.K., and Indietracks in Derbyshire, U.K. — to “unenjoyable,” “depressing” big-name festivals, where the sound quality is poor and the stage separates and disconnects the band from its audience.
And despite the “indie” mislabel, Rzycki likes the positive traits that come with the scene. He says nothing’s more punk than people becoming artists through home recordings.
Not that the Pictures stay at home or are glued to their computers. In addition to the ongoing tour, Tattersall has a solo album coming out, and he and Rzycki will put out an album as the Lobster Boat Band, a rock ‘n’ roll act featuring Coming Soon.
While the best punks can be the most crotchety, Rzycki shares some satisfaction hiding behind his cynical demeanor.
“Even if I complain about a lot of stuff, the truth is I’m living a great life at the moment.”