Photos by Matthew Flood
Interview by Giovanna Trabasso
Refreshing New Beginnings: WAIVER. Reimagines Pop-Punk
Have you ever thought about what the band would sound like if you and your friends actually started one like you’ve said you would thousands of times? WAIVER. is here to show you. As a combination of Hard Rock, Alternative Pop-Punk, and Hardcore, the five friends from Long Island joined forced to create your not-so-average emo band. WAIVER. takes a modern contemporary approach to what we have grown to know and love as pop-punk, bringing in extra energy and love only true fans of the scene could. The band is made up of Nick Valero on vocals, Joey Valero and Devon Dijan on the guitar, and Dan Avellino on the drums.
All Or Nothing took a deep dive into WAIVER.’s roots, pandemic beginnings, and what’s still to come.
What made you guys come together and start WAIVER. and what's the story behind the band's name?
Nick: At the time we started WAIVER. essentially all of us were in other bands. I think WAIVER. started as an outlet for each of us to just hang with our friends and get creative. We didn’t really have any goals besides getting together and having fun playing music. Once we realized how crazy the chemistry between all of us was and how much we loved the songs we were writing, we realized WAIVER. was going to become something more than any of us could’ve thought. We started this band under a different name but had to change it because of another group going by the same name, we really wanted a name that sounded cool and we were all brainstorming in our practice space one night when “Waiver” slipped out of my mouth, ever since I said it we all loved it and just rolled with it.
Joey: We’ve all been friends for a long time, and Nick is my brother! So between being around each other all the time and all loving music, it was really just a matter of time before we started playing together. We all just wanna play some great music. And as far as the name goes, Nick just liked the sound of it! After the fact, I felt connected to it in the sense of a “waiver” gets you out of things. It's a free pass. And this band feels like a way out for me, a way out of the mundane, everyday routine.
Devon: I met Joey years ago when we both started working at Sam Ash Music at the same time and we became friends immediately. I was already involved in my own band at the time, but he had asked to start jamming together. So eventually we got to it and we sounded incredible together. We ended up making a band together with Dan, while Joey sang at the time. Eventually, we decided to have Nick step in on a jam and it was perfection at its finest. We knew at that point that we had made something great.
Dan: I've known Devon since elementary school, and he introduced me later on to Joey. We started jamming and hanging out all the time and Joey started bringing Nick around. Once Nick and I met, even while being in different bands, all we wanted to do was start a band together. So we did it haha.
Let's dive right in and talk about music. Your debut EP Can't Sleep was just released. What would you say is the ideal setting for someone to listen to it for the first time, where they can really take it all like you guys mean it to be listened to and loved?
Nick: My favorite place to listen to all music is my car, personally, and I would recommend anyone who wants to listen to our EP check it out when they have to get in their car and drive somewhere, crank the volume and let the record punch you in the face! Haha, also you can never go wrong with listening on headphones as well, I find you can hear the most detail in headphones. Both are a safe bet!
Joey: I think for me, the best place to listen to our music is wherever you’re comfortable enough to be able to sit down and really focus on what you’re listening to. I like listening to our stuff, and really all music, in the car. Most people’s car speakers sound better than their headphones anyway. When I drive I can really just take in what I'm listening to.
Devon: I would say the best place to listen to our EP would be hanging out with your friends and just enjoying life. To this day whenever we create music, it’s about reflecting on the day-to-day grind that can really burn us out but then coming back, looking around to enjoy what we have. Valuing your friends, family, and the music is what I get out of our music for sure.
Dan: My favorite way to listen to music is to create a vibe in my room that matches the music. I’ll throw on some music through my monitors and turn on my LED lights and just vibe. Kinda just taking it all in, while connecting with the music rather than just listening.
I'd love to hear from all of you, which one of your songs (released or not!) do you think is your best song and why?
Nick: That’s a tough one for sure, we have a lot of different songs that each gives off different vibes and it really depends on what mood I’m feeling that day. As I’m sure most of the band agrees though I think our song “Burnout” is the band favorite, which is unreleased. I feel that that track encapsulates WAIVER.’s true energy and potential. It’s a crazy energetic song that flows so smoothly and takes your ears on a little roller-coaster ride, haha. As far as what is out I have to give it to “Holding On” as I feel like that song holds the same weight as “Burnout” but for the Can’t Sleep EP.
Joey: I think our best song is an unreleased one called “Burnout.” It really just, FEELS like WAIVER. A mix of all the elements that I loved from all the bands I grew up listening to. Just an in-your-face vibe. I can’t wait for that to get released. We’re currently mixing our new record so we’ll see when the new stuff can get out there to people.
Devon: The unreleased songs: “Cortland St.” and “Burnout” without a doubt. I’m sure everyone is on the same page about that, but that’s no coincidence. These songs are separate, but very much part of a bigger story. Life is tough and especially at the age we are all at, we are doing so much that can make us feel like we want to drop it all out of pure exhaustion. I sure feel like that all the time. These songs are about returning to your roots and remembering who you are. Enjoy the things that make you happy around the people that care and love for you so much. So many days when I’m overworked and I know I have a band practice later, I’m might feel so tired that I wish I could lay down and push the world away. But when we get in the room and I pick up my guitar, everything that was stressing me out goes away in that instant.
Dan: “Burnout.” 100% “Burnout.” Not only is it a song that punches you in the face straight out of the gate, but it’s also catchy enough to make people wanna sing along. I personally just think it’s one of the better songs we’ve ever written, lyrically and instrumentally. The meaning throughout the lyrics also is just relatable for a lot of people.
Have you guys had someone mentor or inspire you as musicians, someone who without them, there would be no WAIVER.?
Nick: For me personally if it wasn’t for the musicianship in my family I wouldn’t be playing music today. Growing up I watched my dad, uncle, cousin, and brother (Joey) all playing music and it was just a matter of time until I picked it up myself.
Joey: I’d have to say that without my dad being so heavily involved in my and Nick’s musical life, there might not be WAIVER. I used to sing the songs I wrote, but our dad was always saying how a band needs a “real front-man.” “One with the command of a general.” And that's always been Nick in my eyes. So as soon as that clicked in my head, I asked Nick to come down to the rehearsal space and jam one night. We wrote “Holding On” that same day. It was the first song we ever wrote together. So thanks dad, haha.
Devon: It might be a bit corny to say, but I have to say Joey, honestly. Before I met him I was just playing metal in bands mainly and never really going outside that, despite my rock, blues, metal, and jazz fusion roots. Joey helped me exercise a side of my musicality that wasn’t there before. And then when we all get together to write it just becomes magic. I didn’t have any inspirations really when it came to the making of WAIVER. besides my friends.
Dan: I’d honestly have to say my friend Ethan Kreidemaker, from “Makeshift.” I met Ethan in high school and he’s the reason I even started playing in bands. He’s always pushed me to do my best and has helped me in more ways than he even knows. He’s been nothing but a strong mentor and a huge inspiration
There are a few bands and genres you guys mention on your socials, are there any stand-out bands you guys have loved, that pushed you into becoming musicians?
Nick: For me, a couple of stand-out bands that have pushed me into becoming a musician would have to be blink-182, Title Fight, and The Story So Far. I have to give it to The Story So Far for my biggest inspiration for my role in WAIVER.
Joey: For me, it’s gotta be HIM, Foo Fighters, and Guns N Roses as main influences guitar-wise, but nothing made me want to play guitar more as a kid than Ace Frehley from KISS. That guy is the epitome of badass guitar players.
Devon: I grew up with a whole slew of different bands and musicians that inspired me to become who I am as a musician. I was really into KISS because of Ace Frehley. Seeing him play with that incredible Gibson Les Paul that he had made me want to play guitar so badly. I then got really into Zakk Wylde, Randy Rhoads, and Jake E. Lee from Ozzy. You can’t forget Dimebag Darrel from Pantera. And from the more modern side of metal, it would have to be Misha Mansoor from Periphery. And definitely, a weird pick is Tommy Bolin who was in Deep Purple, but he did some incredible work on the Spectrum album by Billy Cobham that inspired my playing for sure.
Dan: The first bands that made me want to ever start playing drums were blink-182 and Simple Plan. I remember listening to “I’m Just A Kid” on repeat on my Mickey Mouse CD player in the back of my mom’s minivan, haha. But one band that sticks out a lot for me now was this Long Island band Giants at Large. They headlined the first local show I went to and opened my eyes to the scene. I became friends with a few of them and they’re just great people.
As a band that's just starting as the world tries to end a pandemic, how do you feel like the scene has changed for newcomers? Has it been easier, harder?
Nick: I definitely feel like after the pandemic the scene has been very open to newcomers. After all, everyone is just looking for some normalcy and for lovers of music, we want shows! So it’s been awesome to see an explosion of local shows where we are from, as well as bigger acts that come through where local LI bands are opening for them (us being one of them, haha) so I definitely think the scene is alive and well and will only continue to grow.
Joey: I think the scene is more accepting of newcomers than ever before. Pre-pandemic I feel like things we’re done a certain way. Almost routine. You saw the same people coming out to see the same bands at the same venues every week. Now I feel like everything is fresh again. We all missed live music so much, everyone just feels happier than ever just to be able to get out and play again.
Devon: I think it’s been a bit of both. It feels like the pandemic did a “Thanos Snap” on the scene, where there aren't too many bands that are playing anymore, but the bands that are still kicking it are driven more than ever to make an impact on the scene. This makes even the shows that we play or even get to attend even more exciting because the scene isn’t as saturated as it used to be, and they’re all doing something really great.
Dan: I have to agree with Joey and say that since this pandemic, it’s almost been like a new start for the scene. Everyone wants to get back out there and see shows again. It’s a great feeling, seeing new faces at every show.
I saw that you guys have been playing live recently which is awesome! Which has been the best live show so far?
All: Our show with Nothing, Nowhere and Meet Me @ The Altar!
Nick: We got to open a show to a packed house for two amazing artists and it was a MOVIE. We had so much fun that night with amazing bands and an even better crowd. We brought the energy and the people there that night brought it even more.
Joey: We stepped onto the stage at Amityville Music Hall and the place was packed. When we stepped up there the crowd started going nuts, it was surreal. Feeding off that energy we definitely played the best we ever have before.
Devon: That show was just so insane, not just because it was our first time playing with a bigger band, but the crowd, which was still very new to our music, enjoyed it so much with the most organic crowd reaction we had ever gotten. That show felt like a breath of fresh air.
Dan: It was just the 3 of us on the bill and it was absolutely packed out. The crowd was so engaged the entire night and the reactions we were getting were unforgettable. Super grateful for that night and for East Coast Collective for giving us that opportunity
On the same topic of live shows, do you guys have a favorite song to perform?
All: Without a doubt, our unreleased songs “Cortland St and “Burnout.”
Nick: Those two songs back to back are a whole vibe. Starting with a slow sing-along track which leads into an explosive ending (“Cortland St”) then right after keeping the wave of energy going as “Burnout” starts. It’s a total vibe and I highly recommend coming to a show to witness it.
Joey: The highlight of my night is hands down when we play “Burnout,” good show or bad, “Burnout” always gets me going.
Devon: As we said before, it is a really heartfelt couple of songs to not only listen to but to play. We all feel it on the stage and so can the crowd so it makes for such a sick experience.
Dan: It’s just so high energy and it has to be one of my favorite drum parts I’ve written yet.
As a Brazilian myself, I couldn't let it slide that 4 out of your top 5 top cities on Spotify are in Brazil! Have you guys felt international love online?
Nick: Our Spotify Wrapped for 2021 actually told us that our EP was streamed across 72 countries! We definitely feel the international love and we think it’s so awesome that people from far away and of different cultures are rocking out with us.
Joey: I think it’s amazing! It’s like a dream honestly. We get messages and YouTube comments from fans sending “Love from Brazil” and I just think to myself, “that’s really insane.” South American rock fans are just on a whole other level of passion for bands, and we love them just as much as they love us.
Devon: Yes we have! I don’t know why Brazil seems to be feeling the WAIVER. WAVE *KNEE SLAPPER* recently, but I can’t argue with that! As I have seen from many other big international touring acts, Brazil seems to be an epicenter for mainly rock music that is enjoyed there.
Dan: It’s kind of crazy honestly. I can’t even tell you anything about Brazil other than that it’s in South America, and yet people are loving our music over there. We’ve seen DMs and comments too of people “sending love from Brazil” and it’s just mind-boggling to me.
Lastly, what's one thing you guys would love to leave our readers with, a piece of advice or a last special tidbit about WAIVER., whatever you'd like!
Nick: I would like to say to all the people that have come out to a show and partied with us, streamed our music, bought a t-shirt, or even followed us on social media, thank you so much! This band really is a group of best friends and family that just love making music, and we want to keep doing what we love and sharing it with everyone for as long as we can. This is just the first chapter of WAIVER. and we will be doing things bigger and better than ever going forward so if you’re not already on the WAIVER. train, HOP ON! We love every single one of you who has supported us in any way. Stay tuned for the next chapter of our band. If you like what you hear and see now we promise you you will, you're only going to rock with us more as we keep doing our thing.
Joey: If you listen to our music or you come to see us live, you're getting our authentic selves. We just wanna share our songs with people and give them a great experience. There’s no gimmick, it’s just pure rock and roll. And to anyone who digs our stuff and thinks to themselves “I wanna do that too!” just know, you can do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. If you play music that’s authentic to you, people will notice. Just be yourself.
Devon: If you’re looking for music that is 100% original, soulful, and powerful, look no further! I think it’s so funny that our musical inspirations come from all across the board, which makes for something that hasn’t been done so much before. Joey and I are probably the farthest from being the pop-punk guys in the band, which I think is a good thing. If we were soooo into pop-punk, I think we would unintentionally create something derivative and old, but we are quite the opposite. I think this really drives the sound to make a culmination of music that is just raw. We are all about being our truest selves, whether it be in our personalities, or in our creation of music itself. It’s something that I think is timeless.
Dan: I’d say always do what you want no matter what others say, and just have fun doing it! You’ll never know what might come of it. Also if you come to a show and see us, come say hi! You’ll meet the raw, uncut versions of ourselves and we all love to share that side of us with everyone we meet.