Photo Credit: Carmelle Safdie
For all New York musician Juan Wauters knows, his show at Eclipse Coffee and Books on March 10 could be a total disaster.
In our conversation a few days before his Monday night show, Wauters made no promises on what the citizens of Montevallo will experience. “I don’t like to live up to expectations. I favor doing whatever feels right at the time,” he said cheerfully. “Expectations tell you to live on the past. I try to play the show and my music as a continuous entity. It’ll be fun and interesting.”
Wauters is currently on his first solo tour since the breakup of his breakout band The Beets. In 2013, he recorded a 12 song acoustic collection and dubbed it “N.A.P.:North American Poetry.”
Where The Beets made jaunty, spirited garage rock in the spirit of Wauters’ heroes The Ramones, “North American Poetry” features the Uruguay born musician playing with an acoustic guitar and the occasional drummer or backup singer.
When asked why he chose a more intimate sound for his solo record, Wauters explained a difference in creative process.
“The Beets has always been an outfit. I’d bring a song to the band, and we’d make it work around our idea, our sound. Now I record on a song by song basis,” he said. Throughout our interview, Wauters’ answers were like this: simple, honest and to the point.
Perhaps it’s his humble beginnings, perhaps he’s just a really nice guy, but Wauters is completely vacant of the egotistical attitude of high profile touring musicians.
This pleasant attitude carries over into his music. Wauters’ songs detail his personal bouts with heavy subjects like isolation, existential crisis or paranoia and turn them into head bobbing, surf rock-esque numbers with sticky pop song choruses.
Take a listen to “Sanity or Not.” Its lyrics detail an individual questioning his or her mental health, citing disillusionment and confusion as evidence of a personal crisis. However, with Wauters’ touch, the song’s happy melody and jaunty guitar give it a surf boogie bounce more fitting of a heart skipping love tune.
Wauters’ sense of open-eyed earnest in both his songs and in person are major parts of his overall charm. Where there have been several ballads penned lamenting time lost at home due to touring, the singer expounds a different take on the life of musician on the road.
“Touring around the country is really great because it expands a sense of yourself. You get to experience a different reality,” he explained.
Wauters admitted to being in a “developmental” stage with his live show, but seemed happy to keep an open mind to the possibilities of playing solo.
“Some shows feel very good. Others I’m working on. I’m mostly doing a lot of learning,” he said.
Wauters’ free show at Eclipse begins at 8 p.m. with Plains opening.