Wavves started in 2008 as the recording project of Nathan Williams. Wavves released several 7"s as well as a cassette leading up to the first two releases, Wavves (Woodsist) and Wavvves (Fat Possum/Bella Union). After gaining recognition, Ryan Ulsh was enlisted as a touring drummer and Wavves embarked on their first US and European tours. Wavves released their self-titled debut album in 2008, subsequently drawing the attention of Pitchfork Media.At the time, the band consisted of guitarist Nathan Williams and drummer Ryan Ulsh.
Their second full-length album, Wavvves, was released on February 3, 2009, and was well received by outlets such as Spin, The Onion A.V. Club, and Pitchfork. The third Wavves album, titled King of the Beach, was released on August 3, 2010, by Fat Possum Records, and features the latest lineup of Nathan Williams, Billy Hayes, and Stephen Pope. The album received generally positive reviews from the likes of Paste Magazine. The album received an average of 72 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 26 critics reviews. The album was named the 24th-best album of the year by Spin, and the 50th best album of the year by Pitchfork. The group's single "Post Acid" was featured in a 3 minute and fifty second promotional cartoon called: "Scott Pilgrim vs. the Animation"
Wavves released a new EP, Life Sux, in September 2011. It consisted of six tracks, including cameos from Bethany Cosentino and Bob Bruno from Best Coast, also Damian Abraham from Fucked Up. The album also contains a live track "In The Sand."
Billy Hayes left Wavves in November 2010 and was replaced by Jacob Cooper, formerly of The Mae Shi.
On December 12th, 2012 Wavves released a music video for the song "Sail to the Sun". Nathan Williams announced the release on his Twitter.