New Jersey trio Latewaves have honed a somewhat schizophrenic but highly engaging sound that fuses late 90s rock and pop-punk, 2000s emo, hair metal choruses and modern songwriting, which they describe as “fun, energetic and introspective.”
The Asbury Park band began with brother and sister-in-law Mike Pellegrino (guitar and vocals) and Shawna Grabowski (drums), who had planned to start a band for around a decade. In 2016, they finally took the plunge and involved Howie Cohen (bass and vocals) before beginning touring and creating music in 2017. As Mike tells us: “The band name comes from the late nights spent on the beach in our home town after getting out of our restaurant jobs. But honestly we’re just pals that really enjoy writing music together.”
After a series of singles and an EP over the last few years, the trio just released their debut album Hell To Pay. It begins in superb fashion with the delicious opening track Extra Pale, which opens up with a funky guitar lick that drops into a lively riff and a piercing guitar sound. Engaging vocals jump in “Feeling extra pale, Feeling ugly as all hell, Not doing well,” then heavier vocals feed into a catchy chorus.
Second time around, the chorus is extended and drops into guitar chords, before building vocals that feed into another chorus. Then a cool little wah-infused guitar jumps in to bring a really fun track to a funky ending.
Equally catchy is Enough is Enough, which starts with guitar chords that feed into a verse before exploding into a big chorus. A second chorus gives way to a cool little guitar solo, which continues under vocals that bridge into a lively final blast of the chorus. Check it out here:
The album is packed with catchy, intense rocky goodness, including the big singalong Too Much and Send Me To The Moon and the lively Almost Famous and Acting Out. But a personal favourite is Guaranteed Burnouts, which opens up with vocals over light guitars then a heavier scream ushers in livelier guitars and an energetic verse. That feeds into a big catchy chorus, which ends on heavy guitar chords and driving drums then more intense vocals drop into a chorus. Big stabbing guitars come alongside shouty vocals then a cool guitar solo, before building up to a final chorus. Give it a listen here:
On the album’s release, Mike told us: “It’s a mixture of insanely excited to nervous. You only get one first full length. And also, to us, having a full length means at some point in time we decided to kind of take our shit seriously. So seeing as we’re all kind of generally anxious people, there’s just every kind of emotion flying around our heads.
“That goes into what to expect- we get pretty intrinsic in our lyrics. As in, we really kind of analyze all the paralyzing thoughts and dread of just existing on this giant rock floating in outer space which in retrospect, none of us can fathom who what when or why any of this exists or even matters…but good news! We set it over extremely fun and loud riffs.”
We’re always interested in hearing about new bands go about putting together their debut albums, so we asked them about exactly that. And Mike told us: “The process of creating the record was fun because we did it in three separate sessions. This gave us time to sit on what we’d created so far and think about what would compliment it as we’d head in for the next session. What I enjoyed is that the motif of the record didn’t reveal itself until after we’d heard the finished product. As in, we were so focused on writing the best songs that we just didn’t really work on a ‘concept’ but rather a way of making all 11 tracks live together in homeostasis.
“After listening back, we realized we talk a lot about self analyzing and how to better ourselves, that was really fun and more-so revealing. As far as challenging, the whole record was challenging. We upped the ante as they say. The pressure was on, we were sitting in one of the best studios in the world with some of the best producers and we had to prove ourselves. It wasn’t like challenging like you see in montages of sports movies. It was like… fun-challenging. Lots of coffee. LOTS of coffee.”
The Latewaves sound is heavily inspired by melodic punk bands like PUP and The Menzingers, as well as earlier alternative music. As Mike explains: “We all appreciate any artist who is genuine. Inspired by people that cut their own trail rather than taking the easiest route, y’know, all those coffee shop aphorisms you see on the back of Jeeps and shit. Live laugh love.”
And on what inspires them to write music, Mike adds: “Honestly, there are clichés for a reason, some of them are accurate. I think we’d all agree that we found out kind of where we fit on this aforementioned spinning rock when we all started picking up our instruments. The half hour we get on stage is the juice that is worth the insanely hard squeeze of touring, failure, heartbreak, and heavy gear meeting narrow staircases.
“Playing music, for me, is really the only time my brain is at peace, and oftentimes I sing about when my brain isn’t at peace, which is an odd dynamic. But when I sing about mental health struggles it makes experiencing them feel more bearable.”
You can expect plenty of opportunities to check out Latewaves’ new music at live shows, as they have a few summer gigs in the works and is looking to tour later in the year. The band tell us they sold out their first show back since the pandemic, in the outdoor area of The Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ. As Mike says: “We were so pumped and humbled that happened. We thought people forgot about us as we finished the record prior to Covid and were just doom-scrolling throughout the entirety of the pandemic. The first show back isn’t gonna feel real, probably gonna be so awkward on stage.”
Latewaves’ debut album Hell To Pay is out now and we firmly recommend going to give this superb record a listen. And Mike adds: “We’d like to say thank you to anyone that takes time out of their day to listen to us and show us support. Pursuing a career in music is insanely hard but nobody is owed anything, so if you listen to one of our three minute songs then you have done more than you could imagine for us. If you enjoy more than one of our songs; mayhaps you’d be interested in coming out to see us live, buying our vinyl at Know Hope Records, or simply telling a pal, co-worker, sworn enemy, babysitter, dentist, haberdasher, or anyone about our band!”