KEVIN BRONSON on September 2nd, 2020
Deep Waters are a young L.A. quartet making the kind of ’90s-style indie-rock known as pep-punk, employing bristling, biting guitars, brisk rhythms and an overall sense of tenacity to drive home frontwoman Erin Jones’ views on identity, empowerment and relationships.
Jones doesn’t need to shout, scream or whine and doesn’t need to. “I’m gonna be what I want / and nothing can stop me / Masculine, feminine / What does that even mean?” she sings plaintively at the start of “I’m Not Afraid of Anything,” the quartet’s third single. Her bandmates — guitarist Joshua Tovar, bassist Mike Hetzler and drummer David Contreras — turn the rest into mosh-worthy racket.
The video for “I’m Not Afraid of Anything” is delicious camp. Directed by Mason Williams, aka Mase, it stars actor Lucy Loken, who does battle with four creatures: a mutated koi fish that feeds on toxic waste, a garbage-eating computer virus, a Trans Am-driving alien who eats brains and a non-binary marooned astronaut with a thing for gourmet cheese. Loken is armed with only her wits and water pistols.
“I came up with the idea of these four monsters chasing her around and her ultimately killing them,” Jones says. “Mike, our bassist, helped the whole script come together. I spent about two months making those masks out of paper maché, cardboard and tulle. Only one of them was intact by the end of the shoot. Everyone basically improvised their parts, with the help of Mason Williams directing us. I was really aiming for a campy, yet high-quality video. I wanted it to look professional, but stay true to who we are — a bunch of awkward creatives.”
Monsters aside, the song is serious stuff.
“It’s mostly about female/underdog empowerment,” Jones says. “Not only do I want to reclaim my power as a woman, but help others who are underprivileged or not given a fair shot in the world. I wrote it around a time when people were commenting on my short hair or dressing like a guy. A lot of my friends are androgynous and face judgment everyday.
“I really wanted to write a song that had a classic punk chord structure and guitar tone. The guys wrote their parts easily and we sped up the end to give it the sense of urgency this subject requires. … I think it was one of those songs I knocked out in a day because I had so many of those thoughts and feelings brewing inside me for a while. To give the song that title and say it in every chorus feels really empowering.”
“I’m Not Afraid of Anything” is officially out on Thursday.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Erin Jones.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
The four of us all have our history of playing solo or in other projects but we all met last summer and hit the ground running together. David (drummer) approached me at my first solo show in South Pasadena and we immediately started playing small venues together. He then brought in Josh, who he knew from a previous project, to play lead guitar. While he was learning the songs, David and I played another acoustic show. Mike, who I knew from an open mic, came to support and asked if I ever needed bass. It all happened very fast and organically.
Has it been a smooth road?
So far we haven’t encountered any major hiccups. The biggest issue is how far everyone lives from each other. We practice in Pico Rivera but live in Pasadena, Whittier, Hollywood, and Anaheim. On top of that, our schedules don’t always line up. But we all work so well together and have fun doing it. I can’t believe how lucky I am to found such an amazing group dynamic.
Please tell us about Deep Waters.
Deep Waters is a rock band with musicians who love every genre of music. I think that translates into our work and makes each song richer and unique. When it comes to writing songs, lyrics are the most important thing. I want each line to have depth and meaning. I’m not wasting any breath on a cliche we’ve heard a thousand times. Josh fills in the gaps with guitar licks that will get stuck in your head and direct the song while I play rhythm guitar. Mike has an incredibly melodic way of playing the bass that makes it feel like there’s another song being played that just happens to complement the rest of us. David is actually professionally trained and can add any kind of jazz, punk, marching band, etc. rhythm to the songs. Some songs feel super punk rock while others are slower and more heartfelt. We don’t want to fit into one category.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Honestly, LA might be the worst place to become a successful band. Everyone migrates here to make it big and just end up competing against each other. If you start in a smaller city and make a splash, people elsewhere will hear about the band that got big in that city and check them out, building their following. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love LA. I’m from here and want to stay here, but it’s very hard to be heard in a sea of thousands of musicians.
That being said, LA has so many welcoming, loving, and supportive music communities. Going to an open mic or playing any of the smaller venues will help get any musician comfortable on stage and build relationships. If you’re happy just to play and be around like-minded people, this is a wonderful city. We do love every bit of the music community here.