San Francisco based Alternative psych rock band Wax Statues just dropped their full length album titled “Exclusive/Reclusive” to the music masses. We recently caught up with Wax Statues’ Cam Gibbons in the midst of the preparations of their album release show on October 19th where we spoke about the significance of the record, the recording sessions and the inspiration of many of the tracks featured on the album.

Exclusive/Reclusive 

The album features the well known tracks, “Stranger” and “It Was All A Dream!” plus eight brand new tracks including the delightful “The Traveler”, the intriguing“A Little Time In Country” and the unsettling “I’m A Shadow and “I’m A Shadow Reprise”. The album is a trippy emotive experience from beginning to its abrupt end. Gibbons says the album title describes the person he is; “A lot of the album is about mental health, it’s also an introspection of who I am as a person and I always told people, I am the exclusive, reclusive.” Gibbons describes himself at a hermit, “I don’t make a lot of appearances, I stay home.” The album title rolls effortlessly off the tongue and offers an opportunity to become aware of the juxtaposition of the two. “I like the duality between exclusive being sort of popular, pretty and beautiful and reclusive being like this castaway in the shadow, it’s like how things can be really pretty but at the same time dark.” The album title came effortlessly for Gibbons while he was in the middle of making the album,”I thought, ‘this is what the album will be called’ and it steered to me talking about myself, talking about who we are as people.”

Songwriting on Saturdays 

When we last spoke with Gibbons, he mentioned Saturdays were the days he wrote songs, We asked him if it remained true for the remainder of the making of the album, “A lot of these songs were done on Saturdays in the sunshine, in the tenderloin. I tried to make anxiety sonically prevail, with “I’m A Shadow” and “I’m A Shadow Reprise” they get weird, kinda stagnate, kinda strange. That’s how I felt during that time in my apartment, it’s cramped, it’s kinda suffocating, the heat and the noise and so that sort of comes across in the record.”

Album Recording Sessions

“I initially wrote [I’m A Shadow] as  a live show segway into “Wild Dog”. I just really liked that riff, it was strange but your ear expected it, it didn’t catch you off guard but it felt weird. In the studio, we played all of it live. Once I wrote the initial segway in, I knew that we had to come back to it.” Gibbons was inspired by the reprises made by Pink Floyd and Mile High Club to create his own distinctive reprise, “I had planned that to be the end because I want everyone to feel anxious when they are listening to it. You are not supposed to enjoy that song, it’s not supposed to be a song, it’s just an ending chapter of the album and that’s why it ends abruptly because when you loop the album it will come right back to “It Was All A Dream!” 

The Reprise’s end has an insightful story of how it got made, Gibbons describes how they achieved the surprising effect at the conclusion of the track: “We turned off the safety features on the tape recorder because everything was recorded live, the beginning of the song speeds up to tempo kind of like you are getting pulled into it and at the very end we stopped it, rewound the tape, ripping the tape.”

One of the stand out tracks of the album is “The Traveler” a smooth confident driven spoken word vocal delivery on an intricate creepy fun soundscape. Gibbons shares that Dr. Dog was the inspiration behind the track; “I really tried to write a Dr. Dog song and my favorite vocalist in Dr. Dog is Toby, the bass player, all of his songs are cool, the way he delivers his lines, the way he has such conviction, that’s what I was trying to replicate.”

The story of Exclusive/Reclusive

The album is a complex music journey giving us a look at Gibbons personal stories of life’s trials and tribulations. It’s an album meant to be listened top to bottom to understand the bigger intricate story, “It’s broken up into sections, “It Was All A Dream!”, “Halcyon”, “Traveler” are about time, the way I feel about the effects of time on me, on people. “It Was All A Dream!” was the past, an overview. “Halcyon” is about the past, you know the halcyon days is the golden era of our life, when you look back with rose colored glasses, everything was great.” The next track “In The Hourglass” is about the present while  “The Traveler” takes us to the future.”That one is a little more playful, the lyrics are actually my homage to a twilight zone episode.” Gibbons further explains, “That song is saying choose to be the Traveler, break free from time, don’t worry about the future.”

One of the album’s most bold moments is the track, “A Little Time In The Country” which has heavy country elements oozing out of the soundscape. Gibbons says it was about getting away and leaving yourself and the things that stress you out and spend a little time in the country, away from yourself. “A Little Moonlight” was a song Gibbons had for a long time and described as “the flip side of A Little Time In The Country”, it’s about “spend[ing] some time with yourself.”

The conclusion of the album includes “I’m A Shadow”, “Wild Dog” and “I’m A Shadow Reprise”. “It’s all about anxiety and all the songs coming to a head” says Gibbons. “Wild Dog” is a deeply baring song about his father. “It’s about my dad and not wanting to burden other people with what you are going through.” The Reprise is where the chapter ends, “It all comes to a head: the past, present and future are always attacking you and I recall the lyrics it was all a dream, strange yesterday. At the end of the album it’s saying it was all a dream anyway, everything you’ve loved, everything you’ve hated, everything that ever bothered you at the end of your life, it was nothing but a dream.”

“Exclusive/Reclusive” is a sincere album that explores the many ups and downs of life in particular anxiety. Writing this album for Gibbons has been a learning experience, “For me, writing music is introspective but I also tell people it’s the easiest way to have a conversation with my subconscious, I’ll write a song, lyrics and not really know where it’s coming from and then I sit back and listen to it and I say oh wow this is how I feel about that topic.” Gibbons confesses that it has also made him more self aware, “If it wasn’t for writing this album and listening to songs that made me think, I wouldn’t understand how my body works, how my mental health works and how to take care of my mental health” 

As we conclude our chat Gibbons gives a few hints of more new music on the way, “The new album is called “Everyday Maise”, it’s a lot more surf rock, a little more fun, I don’t know when I’m recording that.” However he hopes that his listeners will take something away from the “Exclusive/Reclusive” album, “if anything, I would hope someone who listens to this, connects with it in some way. I would love to see people see parts of themselves in it and maybe sort of bridge that gap between them and their subconscious, it’s ok to feel this way.”

Catch all the latest news on Wax Statues on their Official Website

Photography Credit: Kate O’Brien

Album artwork by Matty Klememski