Circling the Drain: Atlanta Rock Trio Microwave Talk New Album ‘Let’s Start Degeneracy’

Microwave 'Let's Start Degeneracy' © Cameron Flaisch
Microwave 'Let's Start Degeneracy' © Cameron Flaisch
Microwave take listeners on a psychedelic journey through their new album ‘Let’s Start Degeneracy.’ Vocalist Nathan Hardy chats with Atwood about the new album.
Stream: ‘Let’s Start Degeneracy’ – Microwave




No one can give you peace, no one can take it away,” Nathan Hardy sings in “Circling the Drain,” one of the singles from his band Microwave’s new album Let’s Start Degeneracy (out now via Pure Noise Records). The album focuses on taking accountability for your actions and how they make you feel, or “choosing your own adventure,” as he tells Atwood Magazine in an email interview.

Let’s Start Degeneracy - Microwave
Let’s Start Degeneracy – Microwave
I’m so bored of being sad
It’s not cool anymore
It’s old and I’m bored
Shit’s really not so bad
I created this hell
I have no one to blame but myself

The album sees the band taking themselves in a very different direction from its heavy predecessor, 2019’s Death is a Warm Blanket. Microwave venture more into dream-pop inspired sounds with laidback paces (“Ferrari,” “Huperzine Dreams”) while maintaining some punky bombast (“Bored of Being Sad”) or merging the two (“Circling the Drain”).

Following the record’s release, Microwave are preparing to go on a full U.S. tour in the spring with rising punk acts Origami Angel, Heart Attack Man, and Carpool Tunnel, beginning on May 7 in Buffalo, NY.

Before Let’s Start Degeneracy’s release, Nathan Hardy spoke to Atwood Magazine about how the band has grown in the past five years, experimenting with substances, and more.

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:: stream/purchase Let’s Start Degeneracy here ::
:: connect with Microwave here ::
Microwave © Cameron Flaisch
Microwave © Cameron Flaisch

A CONVERSATION WITH MICROWAVE

Atwood Magazine: In what ways do you think the band grew in the five years between Death is a Warm Blanket and Let’s Start Degeneracy?

Microwave: We had a lot of time to sit on the computer and experiment with making different noises with plugins and effects pedals over the pandemic.  We also had a lot of time to reevaluate our worldviews.  This was probably beneficial since we were feeling pretty burnt around the time that Death is a Warm Blanket dropped.

While there are definitely loud and fast-paced songs on this album, it feels a little bit more quiet and calm than Death is a Warm Blanket. Was that an intentional choice?

Microwave: We’ve never been a band that writes a bunch of songs and then chooses which ones to put on an album.  The songs that get finished are just the ones that were meant to be unearthed at that time.  We’ve been wanting to explore working on some more chill songs since the 2018 release of Keeping Up.  We were playing around with some crude early versions of these songs around that time but the right lyrics never came and then Death is a Warm Blanket just came ripping out.  Things fell into place lyrically for these songs over the last few years.

Microwave has never been shy about going into new territory throughout your discography, but Let’s Start Degeneracy feels like it stretches further than before with different elements of dream-pop, shoegaze, and others. What are your thoughts on genre while making a new album?

Microwave: We’ve never really cared about genre conventions.  We just try to make music that we like.  I think there’s a lot of space for exploration with plugins, samples, and time based fx in guitar music.  The bands Spirit of the Beehive and Sorry do it well.  We tried to explore this with Let’s Start Degeneracy too.

You’ve mentioned how your experiences with ayahuasca influenced this record, and the title is taken from a conservative politician’s statements on drugs (and creates the acronym LSD). In what ways do you think that experimenting with substances can be a positive tool for making music?

Microwave: It can be like hitting reset.  It can also give you an alternate, third-party version of yourself that allows you to recognize desires that you have and behavior patterns that aren’t serving you.  It can give all sorts of perspective if that’s your intention.

How does the writing process differ from a song that feels more electronic or synth-driven (To my ear that would be something like “Ferrari”) to something that feels more like a traditional band arrangement (like “Bored of Being Sad”) and the songs that merge them (like “Omni”)?

Microwave: Every song is different.  We always just keep adding and stripping different layers and arrangements and rhythms and chord progressions etc until things feel good to us.  I really enjoyed making the electronic, synth-driven ones on this record.  I played around with a bunch of crazy plugins from Output and Soundtoys and made wacky sounds.

You’ve said that this record is about “learning to be happy and take care of yourself.” I think that shows on songs like “Bored of Being Sad” and “Huperzine Dreams.” In what ways do you think Let’s Start Degeneracy embraces those ideas?

Microwave: Sometimes I wonder if being happy is as easy as saying that you’re generally a happy person out loud and choosing to identify that way.  The album is all about choosing your own adventure.

“Huperzine Dreams” is named for a chemical that supposedly helps with lucid dreams. Did you experiment with it? Did you have any particularly memorable experiences with it?

Microwave: I have. It totally works. It’s weird. It’s kind of like when you’re laying bed not sure whether you’ve slept or not but with vivid dreams that sometimes feel like you don’t know how to wake up.  It’s definitely worth checking out.  Fun stuff.  It’s also interesting to take during the day.  It can be kind of like a non-stimulant Adderall alternative.

What songs from the record have you been playing live and what are you excited for fans to hear?

Microwave: We’ve been playing “Ferrari,” “Circling the Drain,” “Bored of Being Sad,” “Straw Hat,” and “Huperzine Dreams” live so far.  We’re planning to play “Let’s Start Degeneracy” the track on the headliner too.  I’m excited for the people to hear all of them.  It was an interesting process figuring out how to execute everything live.

What can fans expect on your upcoming tour with Origami Angel, Heart Attack Man, and Carpool Tunnel?

Microwave: Origami Angel, Heart Attack Man, and Carpool Tunnel are all amazing bands, and we’re stoked to hit the road with them. Expect lots of sing-alongs, sweaty mosh pits, and memories that’ll last a lifetime. It’s gonna be one hell of a ride.

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:: stream/purchase Let’s Start Degeneracy here ::
:: connect with Microwave here ::
Stream: “Huperzine Dreams” – Microwave



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📸 © Cameron Flaisch 

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