WAAX: “It kind of sounds awful, but in this amazing way”

WAAX. Credit: James Caswell
(Image credit: James Caswell)

Luck’s never really been on WAAX’s side – their early years were fraught with lineup dramas and stylistic clashes, which carried on right into the lead-up to the release of their debut album, 2019’s Big Grief. Hell, just a few months before they released it, their lead guitarist and co-songwriter was ousted on bad terms, and his replacement – underground Brisbane pop-rock legend James “Flames” Gatling – was thrown into the Mariana Trench of deep ends, having to learn their entire discography right before they jetted off for a North American tour. Then, right when they planned to tour Big Grief, WAAX were knocked on their collective ass by COVID-19.

Any other band would’ve thrown in the towel then and there – but then again, WAAX aren’t any other band. Led by the inimitable powerhouse that is frontwoman Marie “Maz” DeVita, the band knuckled down on writing for the follow-up to Big Grief, with the MO being to create a truly unhinged rollercoaster of emotions and tones, where the only rule was that there were no rules. Gatling became DeVita’s new writing partner, and having played in approximately 9,381 bands before WAAX, he came with an encyclopaedic knowledge of pop music in tow. The end result of their hustle is the band’s most exciting and unpredictable body of work yet, At Least I’m Free. 

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Ellie Robinson
Editor-at-Large, Australian Guitar Magazine

Ellie Robinson is an Australian writer, editor and dog enthusiast with a keen ear for pop-rock and a keen tongue for actual Pop Rocks. Her bylines include music rag staples like NME, BLUNT, Mixdown and, of course, Australian Guitar (where she also serves as Editor-at-Large), but also less expected fare like TV Soap and Snowboarding Australia. Her go-to guitar is a Fender Player Tele, which, controversially, she only picked up after she'd joined the team at Australian Guitar. Before then, Ellie was a keyboardist – thankfully, the AG crew helped her see the light…