Juan Wauters x Vinyl Mag
As one half of The Beets, Juan Wauters gave us laid back garage rock that garnered the band comparisons to The Ramones. Juan Wauters is legit. Eager for a new musical endeavor, in 2012 Juan set out to write and record a solo album. The result is 2014’s N.A.P. North American Poetry. With a gentler folk feel, Juan’s solo album takes a step away from The Beets’ garage rock reputation in order to delve into the melancholy moments of everyday life. Juan recently took some time out of his day to talk with me about the new album, his experiences at SXSW, and to school me on the Existential side of Tango music.
Vinyl Mag: So how’s it going?
Juan Wauters: Pretty good. I’m actually in Boston right now. Someone that I know is getting married, so I came to the party.
VM: Nice. Weddings are the best.
JW: Yeah. I’m looking forward to it. Should be fun. And then after this weekend I go on tour.
VM: What’s your favorite part about going on tour?
JW: Oh, man. There are a lot of things, but I love meeting people that I don’t know. I love to hang out with new people. I always try to look for interesting characters when I’m on the road. People that I wouldn’t see in New York or in my normal day to day. I just enjoy making new friends and seeing how different people live.
VM: What’s the farthest a tour has taken you?
JW: I’ve played all across the U.S. One time we were supposed to play in Mexico, but the show got cancelled. I’ve played in Europe and in Israel, but those were both sort of random solo shows, so they weren’t really for a tour.
VM: So will this upcoming tour be the first time that you’ve toured solo?
JW: Yeah. I mean, last year I did it a little bit. This solo album is something that developed during my time with The Beets. In 2012 The Beets didn’t really play a lot of shows because we were having some problems and trying to figure out how to take it to the next level. So last year I did a little bit of my own stuff and a little bit with The Beets. So, I’ve done some touring, but just a little bit here and there. I just got back from Austin, Texas though.
VM: You played at SXSW, right? How was that?
JW: It was great! When we first started with The Beets we just took everything as it came to us rather than putting a lot of thought into it, so when we played at SXSW for the first time in 2009 we were still learning to play together. It was pretty wild those two years that we went there but it wasn’t really that fun. It was more stressful and intimidating. I left with a bad taste in my mouth those times, but this year it went really smoothly. I went with a different attitude this time and it was really fun. It was just me on the guitar, so I was able to change the show up and it was more laid back. It was cool, because we gathered quite a little following.
VM: Do you feel like that sort of freedom is the biggest difference in making music by yourself as opposed to working with The Beets?
JW: I guess so. Yeah, that’s something that I look for in music. I always want to have a freedom in music or in any art form. Freedom gives me the opportunity to explain the moment. It’s just a different experience. Playing with a band is always fun too, but going on tour with a band is tough. People can get moody and it can get really tense and affect the whole thing. When it’s just me I can decide what I want to do and how I want to do it and not have anyone rock the boat.
VM: So the new album is called, N.A.P. North American Poetry. Are you big into poetry?
JW: Nah, honestly I’ve always kind of steered clear of poetry. I mean, I love words and I enjoy the feelings they can evoke, but sometimes the title of poetry can make something uptight and less accessible. I enjoy poetry, but I enjoy the poetry of the street. Anybody talking can be poetry. I mainly named the album that because I wanted an acronym for the word nap.
VM: The album has a really 60s sound to it. What type of music did you listen to growing up?
JW: Definitely. I love The Beatles and Ramones. I just wanted it to have a festive vibe. I grew up listening to the classical guitar and my father listened to Tango music. You know, Tango music is almost a way of being similar to Rock & Roll. It’s like a lifestyle. Tango talks a lot about that enjoyable sadness in being alive. It’s really melancholy. Like, I’m trapped in this life and I have to deal with a lot of bullshit everyday, but I’m so happy to be alive.
VM: I didn’t realize Tango was so melancholy and existential…
JW: Oh, yeah! It’s a lot about the feeling of enlightenment and realizing that there is sadness in all of life, even the good things. It’s about embracing the questions of life. Tango is great. A lot of songs about everyday situations like hanging with friends, family, about gambling on horses and losing all your money. Everyday things…
VM: So if you could only listen to one album for the rest of eternity would it be Tango?
JW: For me? That’s a tough question. Maybe something by Ramones or The Beatles. I don’t know though, because I feel like one album is going to drive me crazy no matter what it is. Maybe Revolver or Ramones. I’m just trying to think which album will make me the least insane. Maybe John Cage’s 4’33”. Just silence. That’s what I’d choose.
VM: If you weren’t playing music what would you be doing?
JW: Driving around. Haha I don’t know. Music is always something I’ve had in my life. Until 2012 I never really tried to see music as an income. I always had a lot of different jobs. But since 2012 I’ve decided to focus all of my attention on music. So, I don’t know. I studied math in school. I like to paint. It would have to be something that keeps me meeting new people and moving around. Maybe a UPS deliveryman? Yeah. That’s it!
N.A.P. North American Poetry is out now, so be sure to snag a copy and give it a listen. Be on the lookout for Juan’s tour coming to a city near you!