Floater celebrates the release of Wake
by William Kennedy
Don’t panic, Eugene, but Floater’s gone pop. No, the group won’t be doing duets with Taylor Swift at the Grammys any time soon, but there are songs on Floater’s eighth studio album, Wake, that some are calling “radio friendly” and a return to the heavier, harder sound of the band’s early work.
Floater vocalist Rob Wynia says there was no conscious effort to make a more mainstream record. Floater has “always made the music we’re into at the time,” Wynia says. Wake, he adds, is “influenced by touring, constantly playing live … live energy creates pop rock.”
If there were a Eugene Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Floater would be a shoo-in next to Jerry Garcia and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. Despite being based in Portland now for several years, Floater has remained good friends with Eugene — and Eugene returns the feeling. Wynia says Eugene has “got a special place in our hearts. It’s where we all met.” As they’ve built a sizable following all over the Northwest, Floater long ago graduated from the small bars and venues in the area to some of Eugene’s largest venues. “We used to say, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to play Max’s?’,” Wynia jokes, remembering the band’s early days. Now Floater frequently headlines the McDonald Theatre and the Cuthbert Amphitheatre.
Floater began making a name for itself mixing Metallica’s chunkity-chunkity riffage with Pink Floyd’s psychedelics and Tool’s ominous tribal atmosphere. The band has since since spent time experimenting with acoustic styles, even releasing a live acoustic album recorded at the WOW Hall. “We always want to be doing something we love,” Wynia says. It’s not easy for any group to experiment with sound and maintain its following, but Floater has pulled it off with relative ease. Wynia attributes this success to the “tolerance and patience of our fans.”
Floater has had many opportunities to hit the big time with a major label record deal, but the band has turned down all offers, opting to continue playing to and growing the loyal Northwest fanbase. While Wynia sees many challenges involved in maintaining a muiscal career when you’re labeled as a successful “regional act,” it also allows the band to enjoy more down time with loved ones and more time writing and rehearsing. Most importantly, he appreciates that he’s been able to maintain the enthusiasm that got him into playing music in the first place. “We’re still like a bunch of teenagers,” he says. “I hope people who come to this show enjoy it half as much as we will.”
Floater, Sassparilla, Ruins of Ooah and the RAWKrew Breakdancers. 7 pm Saturday, June 26. Cuthbert Amphitheatre. $17 adv., $19 door.