When Rogue Wave’s Pat Spurgeon was experiencing the quickly passing days of childhood, he undoubtedly dreamed about the future. He may have fantasized about becoming a professional musician, recording albums and having adoring fans that cheer uncontrollably when familiar songs are performed. Spurgeon, who drums for the Oakland, Calif.-based modern rock act, was certainly not thinking about his future battle with kidney failure.
“I’m on my second transplant now,” he says. “I’ve had it since 2007, a little over two years. I didn’t find a donor. It was a kid who passed away in a car accident. He was such a good match for me — it shot me to the top of the waiting list. I had only been on for one year, and I had about five more years. I was on dialysis for a year and then I got this call out of the blue and this guy’s kidney was such a good match for me, they put me at the top of the list.”
Fellow Rogue Wave member Zach Rogue experienced health struggles of his own soon after his drummer received his much-needed organ. The guitar-donning singer had some unexpected issue involving his neck in 2008 and experienced agonizing pain courtesy of a couple of discs that fell out of place. Body mobility was impaired to a large degree, and his bed became his home.
Spurgeon remembers it well. “Basically he was told that he may not be able to play music anymore or hold his daughter — he could be looking at paralysis,” he says. “He was pretty much paralyzed for a while. His arm wouldn’t function.”
While the future of the band may have been in question, Rogue recovered in a matter of several months and was able to embrace his vocation once again. With his arm back in functioning form and Spurgeon’s kidney continuing to serve his body’s needs, the pair set to work on a new record. Permalight, recorded in Mississippi with producer Dennis Herring, was released in March. Spurgeon and Rogue essentially were the main performers on the disc, while other band members and guest musicians filled in gaps and added additional instrumentation.
“It was a necessary part of the process because we pulled up stakes and basically moved to Mississippi, and we hadn’t figured out the songs quite yet,” Spurgeon says. “They were still very rough. So to have everybody come all the way to Mississippi and move there would have been hard because there would have been a lot of down time for the entire band.
“We had done this quite a bit from pretty much day one when I had met Zach; we established a working relationship where we did a lot of the recording, a lot of the arranging and stuff like that, and then would present it to the band. We knew our working relationship was pretty solid, so we decided to go in together, and then once we got our parts figured out, we would have other people play on it.”
Spurgeon and Rogue’s plan paid off handsomely. The 12-song Permalight is a labor of melodic love and certain to be appreciated by those who crave well-crafted radio-friendly rock. Subtle Fleetwood Mac flourishes are embedded in “We Will Make a Song Destroy,” which ends with a juggernaut of a chorus. Dance beats and electronic influences infect the ultramodern “Good Morning.”
When the band assembled a five-piece, reinvigorated Rogue Wave to perform album opener “Solitary Gun” on March 22 on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, it was a memorable event for fans in the audience — as well as for two new Rogue Wave members.
“It was pretty awesome, but mostly because two of our guys had never done a television show before,” Spurgeon says. “I don’t want to sound all cocky and stuff, but we have done a few, and it’s always exciting, but two of our guys — our bass player and our keyboard player, Cameron Jasper and Steve Taylor — it was their first time. It was fun because they were freaking out.”
On the Bill
Rogue Wave plays the Fox Theatre on Tuesday, April 13. Doors at 8:30. Man/Miracle and JBM open. Tickets are $15. 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-3399.