As long as we’re not supporting anything evil, it should be okay.
story by Jon Graef
Judging by name alone, you might think that Walter Meego is the most ubiquitous person in television right now. He’s been on television, both in shows (“Ugly Betty”) and on commercials (the latest ad for Heineken). On any given night, you can hear the electronic pop-rock sounds of “Forever”, the opening track from his debut album Voyager, emanating from the TV screens as photogenic actors of all ages party to his jam. There’s only one problem, if you can call it that. The dude is a band. Or rather, the dude is two dudes: former Chicago residents Justin Sconza and Colin Yarck. Indeed, it seems like millions are familiar with the music and the commercial — but not, ironically enough, the band itself.
“I actually haven’t seen the commercial yet. I don’t watch that much television,” says singer and Luke Wilson look-a-like Sconza. That’s probably because he’s too busy writing the new material which will eventually comprise Walter Meego’s second full-length LP in the band’s newly adapted home of Los Angeles. “But as long as we’re not supporting anything evil, it should be okay,” Sconza continues. “You can poke holes in any kind of argument or ideology. I mean, nobody buys albums the way that they used to. If they were, we’d be selling out.”
That last remark was prompted by a question regarding any ambivalence that the band may have felt in using their music in a commercial, considering that Sconza has cited Nirvana (a stridently anti-corporate band if there ever was one) as a primary influence in Walter Meego’s music. In listening to Voyager, especially its Daft-Punk-pop first half, one has to wonder how Kurt Cobain’s brand of anguished, introspective angst fits into Meego’s effervescent songs, particularly on tunes like the Beach Boys-indebted “Girls”. But like Cobain and his inspiration John Lennon, Sconza knows how to pen a catchy melody — and Voyager has got those in spades, even when the band explores darker moods like on the claustrophobic “Through a Keyhole” and the distorted haunted-house disco anthem “Lost.”
What’s even more impressive about these songs is that, despite their futuristic sounds, the band creates them using completely vintage equipment. Sconza tells Chicago Innerview that Walter Meego’s equipment roster includes everything from “CFR-20 oscillators…to everyday vintage Moogs”. The band also is strict about recreating these sounds in a live setting, which they’ll undoubtedly do at their Chicago show this month. “We don’t use a live drummer at all. It’s mostly just samplers and drum machines,” Sconza explains.
So then, how exactly did such a band hook up with current touring partners Ra Ra Riot, a straight-up indie rock band if there ever was one? “We were actually about to go on our own headlining tour, which we weren’t too thrilled about,” reports Sconza. “But then [Ra Ra Riot] invited us to come along to their tour, and we said ‘yes’. We’re very excited about playing with them. This is the second time we’ve been back to Subterranean since we moved.”
Despite the busy schedule, the Ra Ra Riot/Walter Meego tour doesn’t start until the beginning of this month, which naturally allows Mr. Meego time to work on new material — some of which, according to Sconza, will be debuted on the tour. As to how Sconza likes the music scene of Chicago as compared to that of L.A., he remarks that the latter is “just larger. There’s more of a cheesy, Sunset-strip inspired scene there. They’re both varied scenes though.” No matter how gussied up the electronics get — or how stripped-down/unplugged (as Sconza hints about future performances) the band may evolve into out in L.A. — Walter’s intensely listenable music remains as pop-filled and rewarding as ever. Even if he’s two dudes instead of one.
Walter Meego :: with Ra Ra Riot :: Subterranean :: Sept. 11.