Rogue Wave

Rogue Wave will be making their third visit to Portland in less than a year when the San Francisco-based band plays the Doug Fir on July 2.

But don’t expect to hear the same songs that you’ve heard before. In fact, lead singer/songwriter Zach Rogue promises you won’t.

“I’m to the point now that I won’t write the set list until I get to the venue of whatever city we’re playing in,” Rogue said. “I’d hate to be a fan of a band and have to sit through the same exact thing that you’ve already heard and paid for before. We have about three sets worth of material to pick from, so we’re definitely going to be changing things up.”

Change is a familiar word to Rogue as of late.

He is in the process of moving into a new apartment. His band’s most recent LP, Descended Like Vultures (Sub Pop), was critically praised and has brought him a new level of popular recognition as one of the best songwriters in the indie world today. And to add a little drama to life on the road, the Wave will be dealing with a “health issue” this time around.

“Our drummer has a failing kidney,” Rogue said. “It should be fine. We think it’ll work. But he’ll have to be on dialysis at times.”

Topping it all off, Rogue feels like this is a defining period in his career as a songwriter.

“We’re demo-ing songs right now for our new record,” Rogue said, with a noticeable tinge of excitement in his voice. “I want it to be different, diverse. I don’t really want us to have a ‘sound.’ I have a real hunger to do new things. And I want us to be able to surprise ourselves. I want things to sound loose, like they’re falling apart.”

When asked where the urge comes from, Rogue doesn’t hesitate to respond.

“It’s a crazy time in the world right now,” Rogue said. “And I keep thinking about the best Beatles records – how people needed that music to help them through the bad times. Not that I’m comparing us to The Beatles, mind you. But I do feel an urgency to create something that sounds interesting, but that also has some serious hooks to it.”

Two records into their still blossoming career, Rogue Wave have done just that.

Bursting onto the music scene three years ago, the band was snatched up by Sub Pop.

Seen by cynics and the too-cool-for-school as an attempt by the label to cash in on the popularity of The Shins, Rogue Wave has now lapped that band in terms of creativity and catchiness.

And though it didn’t become the smash that Sub Pop had hoped for, Descended Like Vultures is one of the most interesting records to come out in a long time.

Catchy, unique, dense and poppy as hell, Descended is a record that, nearly a year after its release, still sounds original and brand new.

“I’m really into doing more with less,” Rogue said. “And I think it came out on that record. I hope to explore it more too. It’s like if you go back to any records that were made in the ’60s. The artists knew that they only had a limited amount of tracks, a limited amount of takes, so they had to make everything count.”

And while overlooked compared to pop bands such as The Shins and The New Pornographers, Rogue said that the lack of major attention doesn’t bother him a bit.

“I’d be silly if I did,” Rogue said, proudly. “We have fans. This’ll be the third time in a year that we’ve played your city. Things are going well. And I’m more about creating a community, no matter how small, that you can feel and be a part of. That’s what’s important to me. We make records. People get them and learn the songs. Then we meet them on the road. It’s cool.”

Rogue Wave will play the Doug Fir on July 2. The band’s most recent LP, Descended Like Vultures, is out now on Sub Pop Records.