Waterlaso began in Sedona, Arizona as a simple means for Michael Cameron to pass the time. He was young and “obsessed” with the four-track recording systems that fueled the popularity of lo-fi home recordings in the late 1990s.
“There’s just not much to do when you basically live out in the forest,” he says.
Cameron worked diligently on the project, and the music he made became a reflection of his surroundings, a combination of the indie rock and new wave CD’s in his collection and the “mystical vortexes” of Sedona.
“It’s a huge new wave, soft rock, new age thing,” he says of his sonic creations.
Eventually, Cameron moved to Phoenix for college and, after finishing school, relocated to his current hometown of Los Angeles. All the while, Waterlaso stuck with him, resulting in three releases featuring songs with such quirky titles as “My Ex-Wife’s Failed Boxing Career,” “Your Mother Knows Us As Boywhores,” and “You’ve Made It Miserable To Be Poor.” Somewhere along the way, though, Waterlaso transformed from Cameron and his four-track to a full-fledged rock band.
“I always struggled with putting together a lineup that sounded good,” Cameron confesses. A little over a year ago, the pieces fell into place. He first joined forces with keyboardist Josh Winter, a friend with whom he had played in other bands. Drummer Keith Krey came in through a Craigslist ad, and, after a previous bassist left, Cameron brought his co-worker Armando Madrid into the fold. Cameron calls Madrid and Krey his “Andy and Mike,” a favorable comparison to the rhythm section of legendary British band the Smiths, and adds that Waterlaso’s music has changed immensely since leaving his bedroom for nightclub stages. He cites “Boxing Career,” which appeared on debut album What Have You Done To Deserve Everything You’ve Ever Wanted, as a prime example of the change, noting that it has grown from a minimally-produced pop song to a “majestic” piece.
“With the album, everything is very much like between Hall and Oates, Wham!, and ’80s David Bowie-type stuff,” he says. “Live, I think we kind of go for it a little bit more. I guess we’re the soft rock version of heavy metal live.”
Although he is no longer working alone, Cameron remains “very inspired by people who can make literally a masterpiece on a four-track cassette recorder” and hopes to retain the simplicity of his previous production despite the growing complexity of the songs’ arrangements. And, even though Cameron has been stationed in LA for more than five years, Sedona still plays a major role in Waterlaso’s sound, particularly in some of the more Fleetwood Mac-inspired tunes like “Inconsistent Magic [Constant Release].”
“A lot of that has influenced the music, being slightly new age myself,” he says. “It’s hard to live somewhere for 10 years and not have it rub off on you.”
Waterlaso plays Rusty’s Surf Ranch on October 6.