Jeff Morgan of Rwake on “Rest”

Rwake has just released their first album in four years. The album is already getting great reviews to the delight of fans everywhere who have been waiting for this record for longer than the band intended. I had a chance to talk to drummer Jeff Morgan before Rwake sets out on a short tour to talk about “Rest” and how it relates to America today.

Buick McKane: Your album “Rest” came out yesterday. How has the response been so far?

Jeff Morgan: It’s been overwhelmingly positive. It’s seems like over the years, we’ve had a very small amount of bad press; it just seems like what we’re doing is just unique enough to where people seem to be pretty happy with it when we release something. We’ve been lucky as far as press goes; we get really good responses when we release new albums.

Buick: That’s always a good thing to have. Not everybody does. I really love your song and album titles. They’re really cool, thought-provoking names to me. But this album title has got to be the shortest title you’ve ever done. What does the title represent, being so short?

Jeff: That’s funny that you noticed because we really do usually have really long album titles, kind of long phrases. But with this one, we had a couple of other phrases that we had in mind we came up with throughout the recording process, and it just seemed like the best way to sum what’s been going on, what seems to be going on with everyone in the world is rest. It just really seemed to fit the mood of the music as well; kind of the mindset of living in Arkansas the past forty years. It just seemed to fit really well. We were looking to find things wrong with it because it is so simple, and we never really used one four-letter word before, you know, to try to describe an entire album or use it to label an entire album. But, actually, it just fit so well, everyone was really happy with it as soon as they heard it. Everyone was pretty much in agreement that’s what we should call it.

Buick: It is different. Does it have anything to do with the fact that your band’s name is Rwake? You know, wake and rest?

Jeff: Yeah that was probably one of the things…we were trying to think of things we didn’t like about it. That was one of the things that everyone was kind of like, “Well it’s kind of similar to the band name; wake, rest, wake, rest. They almost sound a little too similar.” We ended up going with it because we really like it, because it’s more about the meaning of it. A lot of it too is that we went through some pretty dark times in the past couple years; it just kind of sums up death and solitude and things like that too, you know. Rest means more than just sleep, it also represents eternal sleep, you know. It turned out really well.

Buick: Right. This year you also released a remastered version of “Hell is a Door to the Sun.” How have your fans liked it?

Jeff: That seems to be…collectively among the people who have been with us through the last ten or fifteen years, it seems like that one kind of stood out to them in a lot of ways, like the songs that are on that still, still to this day when we’re playing, shout out songs off that record that they want to hear. It seems like that record was a bookmark in our progression, you know, from like a…more like a…because we used to be a little bit faster, you know. It used to be more like a stoner version of Soilent Green or something, you know. We used to play a lot of crazy time signatures and fast, spastic stuff. And then we started getting older and smoking more weed and stuff, and our also music followed suit. We got slower, and that record was the first record where we had a lot more of the slower stuff on it. And to this day, people love that record. Production-wise, we did it ourselves when we originally recorded it. We just hooked up all the studio stuff we could get our hands on in our jam room. So we were never totally happy with the production, but Sanford did the remix and the remaster, and he did a great job. I mean, it definitely sounds a lot better. But that was more about rereleasing that for the songs because everyone really loves those songs. We just played in Nashville the other day and people were yelling out, “Play ‘Stoner Tree’!”

Buick: Are you going to do that for any more albums?

Jeff: We have another album that we recorded with Steve Austin from Save the Day in 1999 called “Absence Due to Projection,” and we have the original adats and it’s never been released other than anything besides us, like, putting it on burned CDs. So we’re talking about maybe doing something with that, maybe get Steve Austin to help put in his two cents, and see if we can’t get it released properly. And also we’re talking about doing “If You Walk Before You Crawl…,” the one that came out before “Voices of Omens;” that never came out on vinyl. So we’re trying to figure out a way to get the released on vinyl. So there will probably be some more rereleases.

Buick: That’s really cool. And you have a few tour dates lined up so far to support this album. Are you going to do any long tours this year?

Jeff: Not this year, but we’re kind of aiming more towards next year. Because B. who plays moog synthesizers and does vocals is also my wife of fifteen years or seventeen years, and we’re due another baby in January. We already have a six year-old, and we’re going to have a baby girl in January. In fact, the rest of this year, she’s already getting pretty big, so it’s probably going to be hard to do any extensive touring. I think we’re doing some one-off shows and weekend stuff, but as far as doing any tours, I think that’s going to have to wait until after we have the baby in January, so it will probably be next year, more around the SXSW time-frame.

Buick: Right, well, congratulations.

Jeff: Thank you.

Buick: Would you like to play [SXSW] again?

Jeff: We played it every year for the past six or seven years And we were forced to cancel last year, last minute, we had some unfortunate circumstances where we had to cancel the day before. So, I mean, I hope they forgive us; we’re not really the canceling kind of band, and it really sucks to have to cancel it. We’ve been in talks with them to let us come back, but that’s the first year we haven’t played it. So hopefully next year, they’ll let us come back.

Buick: Right. Well, is there anything else you would like to say?

Jeff: Basically, I’ve been trying to thank everybody for being so patient the last four years because a lot of bands put out records pretty consistently, and the fact that we waited four years is something that I’m very appreciative of everyone for waiting on. You know, the fact that everyone waited four years for this and they’re still really excited about it; I just want to thank everybody for letting us take our time. I definitely feel like it was worth it to put so much time into this so, and I think it shows why. And that’s how we refined it over the last four years. So, I just want to thank everyone for being so patient, and thanks for supporting us over the last few years of silence from us, not hearing much from us.

Buick: And hopefully they’ll see you next year.

Jeff: Yeah for sure. Definitely. We’re going to do as much touring as we can.

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Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.