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Working Out of a Jam

Apr 08, 2014 Issue #49 - February/March 2014 - Portlandia Bookmark and Share

Warpaint vocalists/guitarists Theresa Wayman and Emily Kokal share a musical connection that dates back to when they met in choir class at the age of 11. The two friends, growing up in Eugene, Oregon, walked along the same route to school and would make up songs along the way.

“We were both kind of late bloomers,” Wayman says. “Where kids are starting to get more interested in teenage-type things, we were still kind of young and innocent. So we’d make up games and stories and songs. We just played around a lot.”

Wayman sensed that her creative bond with Kokal would continue for the long term after they graduated high school and left Eugene for New York together.

“At that point, we were laying the foundation for what was to come, just plotting all the things we wanted to do with our lives,” Wayman says. “I knew she was on the same page in that way.”

With the recent release of Warpaint’s eponymous sophomore LP, the band is celebrating its 10th year of activity. Wayman, Kokal, and bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg formed Warpaint in Los Angeles on Valentine’s Day 2004, with Lindberg’s sister, actress Shannyn Sossamon, originally on drums. The new album marks the first recordings in which Stella Mozgawa, the band’s drummer since 2009, was involved from the writing stage.

Produced by Flood, Warpaint is a personal, mysterious, and confidently played collection that sees further synth textures added to the band’s brew of rumbling rhythms, weaving guitar lines, and dreamy vocal harmonies. Much of the writing occurred during full-band jam sessions that commenced in Joshua Tree in March 2012. Sonically, there’s a druggy atmosphere to many of the songs, and lyrically, love is addressed in metaphorical terms relating to sickness, health, insatiability, and transcendence. Warpaint has been described as a stoner band, but Wayman denies that any of the new songs were drug-induced.

“We’re all pretty straight,” she says. “None of us are regular pot smokers or drinkers or anything. We go a long time without drinking, and then maybe we’ll have a few wild nights or something. But we’re not druggy people.”

Flood was the band’s first and only choice for a producer. His production on Depeche Mode’s Violator, his work with Nick Cave, and especially with PJ Harvey were key factors in the band’s preference for him.

“He’s a master of lo-fi/hi-fi, really keeping the essence of the demowhich is always the truest form of a songand that feeling that it’s been made at home by somebody, which ends up translating to something really personal,” Wayman explains. “He can keep that feeling in the recording but also have it be sonically masterful at the same time.”

Persistent touring for Warpaint’s 2010 debut album, The Fool, delayed both writing for the second album and the band’s opportunity to work with Flood. Wayman doesn’t foresee such a long interval between Warpaint and the next album.

“We want to write and get back in the studio again,” she says. “We have a lot to express, ‘cause we have so many different voices in our band. There’s a wealth of material there that needs to be put down and can’t wait another four years for that to happen.”

[Note: This article first appeared in the February/March print issue (Issue 49).]


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April 9th 2014

i love warpaint… if i were in a band, it would be them, they are freaking perfect. <3