Rogue Wave - Biography

By Marcus Kagler

The smart and infectious indie pop of Rogue Wave’s debut full length, Out of the Shadow (2006 Sub Pop) earned them buzz worthy status throughout the indie realm. Yet trends are forever changing and the band was dealt some hard luck gaining ground within the band of the week popularity contest that indie rock has, unfortunately, become. Adding insult to injury the San Francisco quartet has also dealt with the chronic illness and even the death of a member in their short career but like the little engine that could Rouge Wave keeps on releasing pristine pop music to the delight of their cult fanbase. Rogue Wave formed in 2002 when vocalist/guitarist Zach Rogue (born Zach Schwartz) returned from a trip to New York with a batch of songs that didn’t fit with his full time band The Desoto Reds. Rather than let the songs sit by the wayside Rogue self-released them as the full length album, Out of the Shadow (2002) under the moniker Rogue Wave. Chuck full of pop hooks floating on a soft cushion of electronic sound effects with Rogue playing almost every instrument himself, the album immediately garnered huge critical praise, leading the band to sign with Sub Pop Records who re-released the album the following year. Lacking an actual band Rogue drafted drummer Pat Spurgeon, guitarist Gram LeBron, and bass player Sonya Westcott in order to tour the record. After Westcott was replaced by bassist Evan Farrell, Rogue Wave officially became a quartet and began working on a sophomore full length.

Descended Like Vultures (2005 Sub Pop) was imbued with a louder rock aesthetic expected from a band rather than a solo project but Rogue Wave’s indie pop didn’t quite catch on with fickle audiences wrapped up in the popular post rock of Canadians acts like Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. Undaunted the band spent the better part of year touring the album throughout the world. Rogue Wave was derailed in 2006 when Spurgeon fell ill and was forced to undergo a kidney transplant. The following year Farrell amicably split from the band to spend more time with his growing family and was replaced by Patrick Abernethy (formerly of Beulah). When the band was unable to renegotiate a contract with Sub Pop old pal Jack Johnson stepped to the plate and signed Rogue Wave to his Brushfire imprint. Asleep At Heaven’s Gate (2007 Brushfire) replaced a lot of the band’s signature lo-fi pop aesthetic with sweeping arena rock. The band was dealt another blow later that year when former bass player and close friend Evan Farrell was killed via smoke inhalation after a fire broke out in his apartment. Ever the troopers, Rogue Wave muscled through the tough times with a rigorous international touring schedule that carried them through the summer of 2008.

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