I CAN'T SAY I've ever received gifts from a band during an interview before, but the three lads in Wow & Flutter found it appropriate to bring a few items in honor of Christopher Columbus Day: A can of pinto beans (your "Pinta"), a candle with the visage of María Milagrosa (the "Santa Maria"), and a record by '70s disco producer Meco (?).
"I couldn't find a Neneh Cherry record, and I wasn't gonna pay $25 for something by Nina Simone," explains bassist Ryan Matheson, whose duty it was to deliver the "Niña."
This generous act sums up the next two hours: One in five answers is serious, drummer Jack Houston gets louder with each drink, and the members of Wow & Flutter never seem to take themselves seriously. Yet they must—at least a little. How else do you explain the fact that the band has been around for a decade and a half?
"We've probably been three or four bands in the last 14 years," says guitarist-vocalist Cord Amato in all seriousness.
It's true; the Wow & Flutter of 2008 to present-day is nearly nothing like the Wow & Flutter of 1996 to 2007 (they won't perform material released prior to 2008's Golden Touch, so stop asking). Equilibrio!—the band's latest, and first on Seattle imprint Mt. Fuji—is easily their best work. The title (Italian for "balance") is appropriate, too. While there's plenty of the rambling guitar squall of early records like In a Dark Room and 2002's Names, Equilibrio! is given full power-trio treatment; songs are shorter, lean, and dripping with punk scuzz and pop hooks.
"A record over 42 minutes better be fucking genius," says Houston, explaining that the decision to cut Equilibrio! on vinyl in addition to compact disc forced the band to trim some of the fat. "The CD format sometimes leads to not editing yourself."
Not to mention the album's cover art—a photo of a young '50s-era girl, belly flat on the ground, arms and legs extended (and touching) behind her head—is made for the vinyl format.
"That's my mom," Amato tells me. I don't believe him, but he's not joking about this. "She didn't know we used it until I gave her a copy of the record."
That I believe.