Rogue Wave finds joy in year plagued by pain 

click to enlarge Rogue Wave's Zach Rogue, left, and Pat Spurgeon produced their new album despite health problems and the deaths of family members. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • courtesy photo
  • Rogue Wave's Zach Rogue, left, and Pat Spurgeon produced their new album despite health problems and the deaths of family members.

"Nightingale Floors" — the new fifth effort from ethereal Oakland group Rogue Wave — is awash in gorgeous, violet-hued atmospherics in tracks such as "College," "Figured It Out" and the eight-minute coda "Everyone Wants to Be You." It's such a pleasant listening experience that you barely notice the pain caulked into every lyrical crevice by bandleader Zach Rogue (born Schwartz), who recently confronted issues such as a compressed neck disk that made performing impossible, and the deaths of his father and grandfather. Additionally, his percussionist-keyboardist partner, Pat Spurgeon, finally received a long-awaited kidney transplant.

Was this album tough to make? Especially with the loss of your dad? Yeah. That was happening in my life, so absolutely I was writing about it. But I don't want that to be the whole narrative for the album, because it wasn't just me making the record — I was making it with Pat and [producer] John Congleton, so it's about us. I mean, it was a horrible year for me, and I was in a lot of pain. But I was also feeling a lot of joy, playing music again with the band, because the connection we have in the studio is very special.

The death of a parent seems to flip some internal switch on creativity and productivity, don't you think? You do realize when your parents go that, well, you're next. And it's part of getting older. I'm deep into my 30s now, and there's that feeling of knowing that things do shift over. I think the Jack White syndrome does kick in a little bit, where I just want to do everything I can. I want to write every possible song that I can, while I can.

Because we really don't have forever, right? Yesterday, I watched "Sound City," that Dave Grohl documentary, and at the beginning he's saying that the distinction between being young and not being young is that, when you're young, you look at the unknown as this huge opportunity and you embrace it. But when you get older, it shifts — there is the unknown, but it's not necessarily exciting. It's a little more terrifying. But I do feel this sense of alchemy, of things coalescing from something I wanted to do, to something I need to do.

How do you view death now? I'm not that curious about it. But everything is redefined when you have kids. And that's the head trip that you go through. I'm saying goodbye to my father, but I'm also thinking that I want to live a long time so I can hang out with my daughter. I want to be around to be a parent for a very long time.

Rogue Wave

Where: Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Tickets: $20

Contact: (415) 771-1421,

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Tom Lanham

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