Northern Waste: Artist You Should Know
Guest post by Genie Cartier
If you’re like me, you’re tired of living in a world of mediocre rock bands with mumbled lyrics and confusingly popular 80s dad rock cover bands. Meet Northern Waste, the local rock band you didn’t know you were craving! Northern Waste’s unique yet classic style of rock paired with funny, thought-provoking and socially conscious lyrics provides a balanced dose of making you think and making you dance.
I caught up with their dynamic front-man Devin Walker, the self-proclaimed Lord of the Waste.
ARTIST YOU SHOULD KNOW: NORTHERN WASTE
Names of band members:
Northern Waste is me (Devin) on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Conrad Scheepers on lead guitar & backup vocals, Paul Hanna on bass & backup vocals, and Jack Snyder on drums.
Where ya’ll from?
Conrad and I live here in the city, Paul is in Albany, and Jack is way the hell out in Crocket. I’m originally from the San Diego area, but the rest of the guys grew up in NorCal.
Where does the name Northern Waste come from and what does it mean?
It’s semi-accidentally taken from Tolkien, as nerdy as that sounds. My wife has an old illustrated map of Middle Earth on our bedroom wall. The region way up North is called the Northern Waste, where all the frost giants and shit live, I would assume. One weekend morning, we’re lazily lying in bed, and she goes “Northern Waste would be a pretty awesome punky band name.” I had been agonizing over naming the band for months at that point, but that one stuck. Our music has absolutely nothing to do with rings and hobbits, but I loved the aesthetic of the sound. It also works on another level, because our lyrics often address the excess and overall wastefulness of America, specifically people in the Northern Californian tech community. Moral of the story: always listen to your wife.
How would you describe your style of music?
Hahaha you tell me! I always have a hard time with this one. Generally speaking, we’re rock and roll, but we really try not to get too tied down by genre. Some of our songs could be considered punk, some blues, some funk, some surf, and sometimes we even get a little country. Though we’re definitely coming at it all from a solidly rock-oriented home base. Our stuff tends to be pretty upbeat and high-energy, and we love to get people dancing and singing along. We hope that our lyrics will make you think a little too.
On that note, your songs are different than a lot of other contemporary rock bands in that they’re actually about things. What are some of the issues you like to address in your music?
As a singer and lyricist, I’ve always been focused on what musicians have to say. Like I mentioned earlier, we tackled a lot of Bay-Area specific issues in some of our earlier songs that you can find on our first demo on our Bandcamp page or our website. I used to work in tech, but left hating it. Everyone was pretending to be best friends and acting like they weren’t at work, but it was all bullshit. They try to brainwash you so you’ll spend more time at the office- just a big fun gaslight party with free beer and acupuncture. I channeled a lot of that anger into the lyrics. Now that I have most of that out of my system, I’ve been talking more about politics (no shortage of material there) and addressing other issues that we face as millennials. We put out a video on YouTube for our song “Millennial” recently that will give you a good example. There’s a lot for our generation to vent about, so we’re hoping to give voice to that and provide a little catharsis.
What can we expect at a Northern Waste show?
You can expect to get Wasted! Expect some high-energy in-your-face tunes, but you can expect a soft side as well. Expect to dance and sing. Perhaps expect some dad-joke-level humor from yours truly. Expect a thoughtfully crafted set that takes you on a ride, rather than just playing song A, song B, song C, etc. You may get dancing girls. You may get an inflatable whale pool toy being tossed around the crowd. You may find your soul mate, settle down in the country, have 2.5 children, raise some chickens, and live happily ever after. You never know!
What’s coming up for you?
Well now that October is here, we’re doing a residency at PianoFight in the Tenderloin. We’re calling it WasteoberFest. We’re doing one show a week, and we got to choose all the awesome bands that are playing with us. Each night will have a different theme, so it will be a new show every time. After that, we’re going to take a bit of a hiatus for the rest of the year to work on new material. Sometime early next year we’re also going to put out a split EP with Alvie & The Breakfast Pigs. Each side will have 2 songs – 2 from us and 2 from them. Each of us will have a song about our current idiot-in-chief. Our song is called “Fump Truck.” I know – very edgy to criticize the president here in the Bay, but someone’s gotta do it.
Who do you like to perform with?
There are so many great people and bands in the scene around here. Some of my favorites are Doctor Striker, The Wyatt Act, Alvie & The Breakfast Pigs, Manos Lindas, The Damn Fanatics, Unlikely Heroes, and Van Goat. We’re also going to try to branch out into other performance communities. My wife and her sister are SF natives and longtime members of the circus and theater communities here in town. They’re putting on a show in December called Saturnalia: A Raunchy Circus Christmas, and we will be the “house band.” I finally get to live out my dreams of being a Paul Shaffer type, but with more hair!
Favorite free thing to do in SF?
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass! Stern Grove is a close 2nd, but Hardly Strictly takes the cake. It’s always been my favorite time of year in the city, even before I moved here years ago. Great weather, great music, and fun times with friends. Even though it gets more and more packed every year, I still have a blast. Now if only we could find another billionaire to donate to it and keep the festival running so I can take my future kids…