Wax On channels Lynchian themes as they create a sonic blend of all things manic and beautiful.

You’re walking through a nightmarish, ethereal dreamscape as dusk settles over the horizon on a humid summer night. City lights dot the horizon somewhere in the distance as you walk down a desolate stretch of desert road. You feel yourself being led through the mist, by the milk-light of the moon that is hanging closely overhead. You’re far from home and you feel an uncanny eeriness fill the air, but somehow, you feel nothing but repose and self-acceptance as you face the road ahead.

Sonically, that’s the aura of “Regrets in Stereo,” the latest single by Lowellian band Wax On before their release of their second record, Sprezzatura, on September 8th. Influenced by Western Massachusetts DIY bands, Wax On are impassioned musicians that are in love with the idea of being able to extract things you hear in thoughts or dreams and put them into music, and the concept of giving those little ideas that exist exclusively in your mind a place to manifest in the real world. The band’s sound—a sonic blend of experimental chaos, soothing euphoria and laced with the macabre, lyrically—allows them to take pride in the inability to firmly categorize their sound into one genre.

“Regrets in Stereo” features raw, honest lyricism and a sultry, smooth groove infused with funk and heavy guitar licks. The track tackles lead singer Luke Pelletier’s own experience with using sex as a way to seek immediate validation rather than to address self-image and other stressful conflicts head on. “It’s a pretty touchy subject for me,” Pelletier says. “The lyrics started just flowing to me. I really wanted to use them as a way to purge myself of the insecurities that I was using sex to hide from.” 

The new track creates a discussion around sex in media today. Punctuated with Pelletier’s soothing lyrical tone, “Regrets in Stereo” revolves around consent and how it is in the context of an aggressor and a victim, essentially rape or assault. “In thinking about my own life and my own actions at the time of writing ‘Regrets in Stereo,’ I wanted to open up discourse about how someone can simultaneously be their own aggressor and their own victim,” Pelletier says. “Whether or not there are any clear cut answers or resolutions, it’s an interesting bind that I found myself in and wanted to psychoanalyze with music. Therapy and medication have done an excellent job of helping me to remove myself from that headspace, analyze it objectively, and build a life afterward.”

Wax On performing.

The creation of “Regrets in Stereo”—and Sprezzatura as a whole—has been a process for Wax On. Nick Capezzuto, the band’s bassist and Pelletier moved to Lowell to open a DIY venue. “While situated right next to UMass Lowell, we met some dope audio engineer students. One of them, Max Reifsteck, needed a band to record for his capstone project and we arranged with him to have Sprezzatura recorded. We got a chance to use state-of-the-art equipment and studio environments at a small fraction of the price it would cost for regular working professionals,” Pelletier says. “We recorded the drums to tape, and we mixed recording vocals, guitars, and other instruments between using the studio space and recording in our own project studios. I worked very closely to make all these scattered pieces fit together in a sonic tableaux.”

Writing the album was more difficult for Pelletier, something he hasn’t spoken much about previously. “To me, Sprezzatura is the sonic embodiment of everything I’d been going through. This record captures all those manic feelings; all those things that haunt me, all the pleasure I found even in pain; the intensity, the pensivity, the shame, all through music and lyrics. Everyone involved in this project cooperatively delivered the power and the poison that was coursing through my veins and controlling my thoughts when these songs started being imagined. Once we all started giving these songs life, I refused to let myself take away from driving the record down this road.” 

Wax On walking on a grassy path

Pelletier has struggled with medical conditions, including Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors, specifically dermatillomania and trichotillomania. These conditions are grouped in with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders. Basically, they’re extreme levels of picking one’s skin off or pulling one’s own hair out to the point where injuries can be observed and identities can be mistaken. Nails ruined from use, time lost, identities shattered from the drastic change in their physical appearance. “I know because I’m one of those people. For me, these tendencies were amplified by stress from a multitude of factors: drug withdrawals, a living arrangement I had, sins I believed I had committed and, as aforementioned with ‘Regrets in Stereo,’ the way I was coping. I was never able to rectify them, the time I spent dealing with them, or the use of picking my skin and plucking my hair out as a coping mechanism to deal with the immense amount of stress I was facing.” 

Pelletier, while making the album, tried to push all of these things out of their life with all types of healing, from medication, meditation, dietary changes, even ritual magic. “Some of them stuck, but some made things worse. I started having auditory hallucinations from self-induced insomnia—I started seeing things manifest in real life from nightmares I had. I tapped into spiritual networks that I wasn’t supposed to be in. I poisoned relationships and friendships I had, even with my bandmates. I ruined my own identity. ‘Regrets in Stereo’ and Sprezzatura were born from that.”

“Regrets in Stereo” is, lyrically, a fascinating study on sex that delves into an alternate meaning concerning the context of an aggressor and a victim. Wax On is an innovative, forthright band that concocts gritty, intellectual and pensive subjects into complex art with a wide swathe of dynamics and a variety of different flavors. “We’re a collective of individuals hoping to reach some semblance of truth that we find in the world through music. Sprezzatura is a curse, so please be careful,” Pelletier warns. “I love you. I’m sorry it had to be like this. Some day it’ll all make sense.”

You can catch Wax On’s new album, Sprezzatura, streaming everywhere on September 8th.

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