How I Got The Gig: Zach Hill of Wavves

By Andrew Lentz Originally Published In DRUM! Magazine's March 2010 Issue

Anyone who has witnessed Zach Hill behind the kit knows that phrases like “ubertechnical” and “over-the-top” don’t do justice to the 25-year-old drummer.

The mathematically intricate stylist first got attention as one half of power-duo Hella in the early ’00s. Ever since the band went on hiatus around 2006, Hill has lent his unconventional style to acts as diverse as Japanoise metal-gazers Boredoms and glitch-hop producer Prefuse 73. With Wavves, Hill aims for something more akin to comfort food.

“I’ve played a lot of experimental and progressive music for a long time, which I love,” he says from his apartment in Sacramento. “But for a while I’ve been wanting to return to my roots, which is like a straight-up punk or grunge band.”

Hill’s Wavves saga began when he was trolling MySpace and was lured in by the creative profile of band founder Nathan Williams. “It looked really interesting and [so did] the demos of the songs that would later go on to be on his record — I have a soft spot for highly effected and distorted music — anyways, I wrote him.”

After a few weeks of correspondence, Hill discovered that the San Diego–based Williams had admired Hill’s work in Hella and other projects. The two made tentative plans to play together, but it would have to wait until Hill got back from Japan with Boredoms while William performed in Pitchfork Festival and a brief European tour.

Until then the collaboration seemed like mere talk but the prospect of joining Wavves became real “when [Williams] ran into some problem with himself and the other drummer,” says Hill, declining to elaborate. “Things were kind of wish-washy and we were just talking because he was back in L.A. after the whole Barcelona thing and didn’t have anyone to play with, so I was like, ‘Well, I’ll come down there and jam.’”

The process was about as casual and organic as any prospective bandmember could desire. “I went down there and we spent a few days, or a week or something, just messing around, writing and playing, and had a really great time.”

The nice thing about the gradual induction into Wavves is that there was no pressure to ape the previous drummer. “Oh, no, not at all,” he says. “I’m pretty unfamiliar with his approach. I mean, I’ve got a lot of respect for the dude and everything, but I can only play one way and that’s the way that I play.”