Those convinced that love at first sight is a myth should take a look at Matt Gagin and Sean Taugher. The vocalist and drummer for local dreamboats Waterline Drift have got a musical love bug, and they got it bad. And, as Taugher's girlfriend will tell you, it's not the flighty grade school type, either.
“My girlfriend swears we're gonna run off together,” Taugher says of his chemistry with bandmate Gagin. “She'll say, ‘Here, your boyfriend is on the phone,' and it'll be Matt.”
Taugher chuckles a bit, but he's not kidding.
“Our band has great chemistry. It drives us. I guess we're just a lovey band.”
Welcome to the Waterline Drift universe-where the love doesn't have to wait till Feb. 14, the jokes are always one-liners and the music is dreamier than the Cure fronted by Sigur Ros.
For our interview, drummer Taugher, vocalist/guitarist Gagin, keyboardist/vocalist Jeff Bennett and bassist Tim Peacock are orbiting in the back of the Red Fox Room. Never has the science of chemistry been so evident as when these four San Diego boys are given free reign to banter about their music.
“We practice? We practice loud. We play? We play loud. We record? We record loud. I love that...” Taugher trails off with a bit of a shiver.
After facing a few of the mundane trials associated with becoming a San Diego musical frontrunner-and dealing with the baffling disappearance of original bassist Matt Joy, who is still listed as missing with the FBI-Waterline Drift is awaiting the release of their first full-length effort, The New Shape of Your Head.
“We recorded it mostly live,” Gagin explains. “We draw most of our energy from each other. This record's got elements of shoegaze in it, but it's got so many layers.”
The band has Sven-Erik Seaholm (a former SLAMM contributor) to thank for many of these newfound layers. The San Diego producer has led many San Diego artists-Loam, Jewel, Steve Poltz, Gregory Page and, most recently, Via Satellite-to similar results.
“He was really mellow,” Gagin says. “The whole experience was. And we drank a lot of beer. Sven was a friend-we recorded an album at a friend's house. It provided us with the direction we wanted to go. He's my George Michael.”
“What does that mean? He wakes you up before he go-goes?” interjects an otherwise evasive Bennett.
Gagin says Seaholm's influence helped the band capture the soul of their thick live shows. Bennett insists the transition from stage to studio was an easy one.
“We play how we play and if it comes across live, that's great. And that's how we practice too, so that's how it comes off on stage,” Bennett explains. “Except on stage, we have clothes on.”
Naked or not, Waterline Drift have their work ethic to thank for an already-healthy international following. Their 16,556 plays, downloads and listens on Mp3.com is unheard of for a virgin band that has yet to release an album.
“Mp3.com is amazing,” Gagin says. “After a couple months of e-mailing people about it, we didn't have to do anything. Now we get about 500 hits a month. We even got an e-mail from a DJ in Croatia who remixed our songs.”
The band also maintains a healthy repertoire of influences. Spiritualized, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, the Cure, Radiohead, Cocteau Twins, Depeche Mode, and Stewart Copeland are mentioned often, but musical cloning is justifiably off limits.
“I like Stewart Copeland, but it's a cold day in hell when I play like Stewart Copeland. Influences are always like that,” Taugher says.
The band agrees that they are oftentimes grouped with the shoegaze trend of the late-'90s, but don't think for a second that it gets 'em down.
“The boundaries [of shoegaze music] pigeonhole so many bands, but all those definitions give people a guide so you don't have to say, ‘Well, we're somewhere between the Cure and Barry Manilow,' which is where we are now.”
“I mean, I've looked at my shoes, but I don't think I've necessarily ever gazed at them,” Peacock says, fishing for a laugh from Taugher, who is seated next to him.
“I've gazed at Sean. Maybe I'm a Sean-gazer.”