“Human Nature is a Stranger to the Notion of a Pause”
Pioneering folk musicians David Wax and Suz Slezak are the plucky husband-wife duo behind the eclectic, exuberant “Mexo-Americana” band David Wax Museum. After 14 relentless years touring the country and world, half of them with their two young children in tow, COVID’s abrupt disruption in March 2020 created a first jarring, then welcome creative pause for the Charlottesville, VA-based band. Not wasting a moment, Suz–who grew up homeschooled, playing the fiddle, singing rounds, and drinking raw milk fresh from her family’s homestead farm–immediately dug up their small downtown front yard to plant the first real garden of the indie rocker couple’s nomadic adult lives. Before the pandemic, the ascendant band was enjoying newfound success with their 2019 first label release Line of Light (on Austin’s award-winning Nine Mile Records), subsequent national TV debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday, and three distinct features on NPR’s World Cafe. They built bridges performing at the wedding of Democratic presidential hopeful (now Transportation Secretary) Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten–and then in 2021 their plaintive ballad “Big Sur” debuted during the marriage scene on Netflix #1 show, Firefly Lane. David Wax Museum even had a big new bombastic studio album with their boisterous six-piece band in the can, but then the sudden shutdown temporarily shelved it, forcing David and Suz to unpack their toiletries bag, park their tired tour van in the driveway, and finally tuck their children into their own beds, for months on end, for the young family’s first time. “Our children (ages 4 and 7) have toured in 43 states, seven countries and fallen asleep on countless disgusting green room floors,” says Suz, who was pregnant with or nursing one of them all those years on the road. “Now that we’ve been home a year, I’m not sure they even remember what tour is!” As Suz trellised cucumbers and butternut squash, and quilted with their kids, David quickly converted their cramped, dormered attic room into an intimate performance space. The hard-working pair immediately took to touring the live-stream stages of Facebook/Instagram/YouTube Live and Zoom when all their beloved, well-trod venues, from D.C.’s esteemed 9:30 Club to Philadelphia’s Johnny Brenda’s, shuttered overnight. Such creative constraints laid the groundwork for the band’s most fruitful period ever. On April 16, David Wax Museum self-released Euphoric Ouroboric, one of four records the band made during quarantine and the band’s first foray into the experimental world of D.I.Y. home recording. Producer and longtime collaborator Alec Spiegelman (Okkervil River, Kevin Morby, Pokey LaFarge) blended drum machine loops with human performances, blurring the lines to chart new sonic territory for the band.