Wax On

The Waxwings are the best band you've never heard of, even if you've heard it all

The starting point for The Waxwings was originally a solo gig for Fertita. Even when the band started to come together, it wasn't serious at first, or at least, it wasn't supposed to be. Initially, it was an impermanent arrangement, just a guy with a few songs (Fertita), his childhood friend (drummer Jim Edmunds), and a couple of loaners from another group (Peyok and singer-guitarist Dominic Romano)--a situation that changed as quickly as it happened. But when you're talking about a fledgling band that had a gig scheduled before they'd even been in the same room together, you expect things to happen fast.

"A friend of mine had an opportunity for me to come play a show in New York," Fertita explains. "I was going to do it just to get out of Detroit and start working on some ideas I had or whatever. When it got closer to the time to go, I mentioned it to Kevin, you know, to see if he would wanna come out there and play a show. I lived with Jim; I'd known him since I was like 13. So it just fell together pretty quickly. Kevin and Dominic played in a band together. He called him up, we had two practices and went." He laughs at the memory, at how fast it all happened. "And it went pretty well. When we came back, we were pretty much settled that we were going to make this a permanent deal, but Jim and Kevin and Dominic had other things going on. It took about six months before everybody was free of the other obligations they had and stuff."

By that time, The Waxwings were ready to make an album, with a handful of demos and several conversations about what to do next (send a tape out to a few labels or just put it out themselves?) under their belt. Thanks to a snowstorm and a conversation, that question about the band's future answered itself, with Salerno coming on board to produce and release the album. And much of the next year is planned as well: more touring, followed by a brief break to record album No. 2, and then more touring. Which Fertita says will be followed by even more touring.

The Waxwings keep it Low to the Ground on their debut album.
Jeff Tisman
The Waxwings keep it Low to the Ground on their debut album.


September 28 at Club Clearview, with Tahiti 80 and The Deathray Davies, and September 29 at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, with Lynx

"We don't want to be lazy in any aspect of it," Fertita says. "We don't want to take too long in between releasing records. We don't want to not go out and play places a ton of times, and go out and meet people. I just don't think enough bands do that anymore. Even when we're playing to five people, it doesn't matter. It feels like the right thing to be doing."

Another thing that feels right to Fertita is staying put in Detroit. For better or worse, it's home. And to hear Fertita tell it, it's only getting better.

"You know, it's not really easy, because you don't have a whole lot of opportunity there," Fertita admits. "It's a pretty small city. But for the first time in a long time, there's a real good community of musicians that support each other and really like what everybody's doing. And for that reason, it makes it a great place to be. It's pretty inspiring, you know? You go to shows all the time and you see people that you think are really talented making good music. I just like being a part of that."

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