Roque Wave Interview with Pat Spurgeon

Rogue Wave Interview with Pat Spurgeon, Marin Magazine

ER: There have been a lot of amazing musicians that have been a part of the band since its inception in 2002, but you and Zach Rogue have gone the long haul together. How has your friendship grown and shifted over the years?

PS: Well, just like any relationship we have had many ups and downs. Our relationship is based first and foremost on friendship. Before we ever played a note of music together we got together and just hung out and talked.  We covered just about everything: music, movies, music, and movies. We definitely bonded on our love of comedians like Steve Martin, Jim Carey, Mr Show, Tenacious D, all of which we still quote. We don’t really “quote” anymore. Their dialogue has become our natural way of speaking! Even as I answer these questions I had a tenacious D moment.

ER: I love Rogue Wave’s harmonies and easy, smooth sound. How has your music evolved over the years? (Can you tell I stand in awe of a band that has weathered the years like you guys have and continues to make great music?) And what’s your songwriting technique like, is there any standard method for you guys?

PS: The first album (Out of the Shadow) was pretty much Zach putting together a record by himself with the help of engineer/ co-producer Bill Racine, and some guest musicians. Since then the process has been Zach and myself arranging and recording most of the instrumentation and voices together. With our last two records (Delusions of Grand Fur and Cover Me, our 80s cover album), it was pretty much just us by ourselves at our studio in Oakland, working out the songs with me engineering. But before going the self-engineered / self-produced route, we worked with several producer engineers at different studios for each album.

We work really well together and through the years have developed a language to communicate as we build upon each song. Zach comes up with the lyrics and melody and we start playing together in the studio — it sometimes turns into a completely different thing by the time we are recording. Which turns into something completely new when we are performing these songs live with the band! 

It has been interesting on this tour playing the entirety of an album from so long ago. We have developed totally different arrangements for some of our live songs, like Harmonium which we typically end our sets with in previous years, but now are playing early in the set since we’re playing in order of the album. And on this tour we had to spend a lot of time with the band in rehearsal working out arrangements that matched the album recording.

Rogue Wave has recorded with: Bill Racine at Tarbox Road Studios (Cassadega NY) and Supernatural Sound (Oregon City, OR), Roger Moutenot at In The Pocket Studios (Forrestville, CA) and Haptown Studio in Nashville, TN, Dennis Herring at Sweet Tea (Oxford MS), and with John Congleton at Prairie Sun (Cotati).

ER: I know you went through a kidney transplant, the focus of which was part of a documentary, “D-Tour.” How are you feeling these days? And how do you feel like that experience affected your music, if at all? 

PS: I’m feeling great and doing well. My health is good. Thankfully nothing big to report there. I’ve been a musician for all of my adult life, and having a kidney transplant didn’t affect that, other than something I had to get through in order to continue to play music. But it did give me another focus, in that I support and believe in the importance of organ donation and have spoken for groups such as Donate Life. Last month (April) was National Donate Month, but I’m always encouraging people to register to become a donor.

ER: You guys have played a lot of festivals – do you have a favorite?

PS: Treasure Island used to be the best because the two stages were so easily accessible, but it is gone now. Not really sure what’s going to happen with that festival moving forward, but I hope it comes back in some way. 

Huichica Festival is another great one. I love this festival because it always has great bands and because of how small it is. It doesn’t get overcrowded. Yetanyway!

The big festivals have just gotten too big and crowded and too much of a scene. That’s no way to experience music.  

ER: What’s the motivation for this tour? Where are you headed after San Francisco? 

PS: We did a 10-year anniversary reissue of our third record called Asleep at Heavens Gate, so we are touring in support of that release. After San Francisco we play Gundlach Bundschu Winery in Sonoma, then we go to the Pacific Northwest, playing the Wonder Ballroom in Portland and Seattle at The Crocodile. And then we go to Missoula, MT for our first show ever in Big Sky Country. We are playing at the Top Hat. I’m excited for that because my wife is from Missoula, and we visit every summer, but I’ve never performed there before.

ER: What’s next for the band after this tour?

PS: We will go home and hang out with our families and friends, and enjoy summer in the Bay Area. That’s all we have on the books at the moment.

More about Pat Sturgeon and Rogue Wave can be found at:

Patrick Spurgeon

Emilie Rohrbach

Emilie Rohrbach has taught music and theater to grades pre-school through 8th in San Francisco and Marin counties for the last 20 years. She has been a freelance writer for Divine Caroline for five years, and her writing has appeared in Narratively, Hippocampus, Common Ground, Travelers’ Tales, and Marin Magazine, among others. She is passionate about Room to Read, Shanti Bhavan, and Destiny Arts and serves on the board of Knighthorse Theatre Company.