Maxim Meyer-Horn

30 Apr
Music

Wargasm: “We Always Describe WARGASM Like Fire and Fire”

If you’re not afraid of some heavy guitars, crazy vocals, and thrilling visuals, WARGASM will definitely be your cup of tea. The musical project of international model Milkie Way and the praised musician Sam Matlock gathers all the angriness and rage in their music, which always results in highly explosive songs. Since the London-based duo released their new single “Your Patron Saints” last week, we had a chat with the incomparable duo.

Your Instagram bio says “Angry songs for sad people”. Can you define that a bit more?

Milkie: “Angry songs for sad people” was always something that was at the core of what we were writing. People always ask you to describe your music, and I feel like that’s the most vivid way we could. We’re angry and sad, and those are the songs we made.

Sam: We started writing these songs and, when you distribute your songs, you’re allowed to make up your own label. We’re the kind of people that get sad but we confront our issues head-on. I go more for rage than for sorrow. WARGASM songs are always kind of aggressive and capture that angry energy.

Why is music for you the best way to express those feelings?

Sam: There’s a lot of things you can do with music because it’s quite trivial. Although, for example, painting is something physical, I don’t know if you get the same intellectual reward. If you do not choose to look into lyrics, you don’t have to think too much about it. When you’re shouting into a microphone or shredding a guitar, you get an instant physical release, and the reward happens in that exact moment. Music is maybe something for people with a smaller scope than a physical artist or a painter.

You both have bold personalities. Is there sometimes friction between both of you?

Sam: Yeah, I’d say that there’s some friction sometimes. We always describe WARGASM less like fire and ice but more like fire and fire. Sometimes, fire and fire is good because it can help to keep things controlled. Sometimes, fire and fire are terrible because everything gets out of control. That’s how we work. We either have one of us control the other and keep everything cool, or we both go, “Fuck you!” We like the friction.

Milkie: Sam is no stranger to confrontation, and I’ve learned to live with it. (laughs)

You’ve met each other at a concert. Do you think that music really unites people?

Milkie: Music and going to a gig is the best thing to break out of your life for a moment. The reason why Sam and I got together in the first place is that I had started a photography page based on the fact that I went to all these gigs alone. I didn’t really have a lot of friends when I moved to London, so I was able to bring a camera and shoot shows because I didn’t need to worry about being there with other people. The fact that we’ve met when I was alone at a gig and started to chat, shows that it definitely unites people.

Sam: We’re also pretty happy with our circle of friends, and we’ve got a lot of mates we keep in touch with as much as we can. Every single one of them works in music or loves music at least. I mean, my best friend is our tour manager, our session drummer is also our promoter, and our session guitarist was a bartender in a local pub in London. We started chatting with him, and it turned out that he reviews CDs on his Instagram page. Eventually, he became our guitarist for all our live stuff. It’s that love of music that got us talking. I don’t think there’s anyone in my life that doesn’t work or is obsessed with music. I wouldn’t know how to interact or connect to those people who don’t like music. I can’t wrap my head around people who have other interests than music.

When you started, your musical background was the total opposite. Did that have a positive influence on making music?

Milkie: This is my first musical project, so writing music is something completely new to me, but stage presence and playing music was not so new because I’ve done session work before. Playing bass for other solo artists, having that experience to bring it to, as well as doing gig photography, and being a music lover myself, Sam kind of filled in a crack with the things I’m missing and the other way around.

Sam: Our difference in speed is the strength of WARGASM. At the start, I had far more writing experience, so creating something from scratch or having a lyric in my head and building an idea from it is more my strength. You get that thing, if I was working with someone who’s half a writer, it might be a bit difficult to find our place. Whereas Milkie came in really fresh, and that’s what made it fun. It butchered my process that I’ve been stuck with for years.

It only took me to a certain level and only allowed me to achieve certain things in my writing. That’s where Milkie comes in, that’s where the magic happens, and that’s where it clicks. When you’re mixing our experience in writing, you get WARGASM, and that makes it so fucking much nicer to listen to compared to other stuff I’ve worked on. WARGASM is the first time that—and without Milkie, I wouldn’t be able to do this—that sounds cool and a little bit original.

You’ve often been labeled as the new nu-metal heroes. Are you comfortable with that label?

Sam: For a start, I don’t really think we make nu-metal at all. We bonded over a love for nu-metal. When we first met and started hanging out pre-covid, we went to parties where people would try to put cooler and cooler music on with all that Soundcloud crap. No one wants to hear that at 3 AM blasting through the speaker because they want to hear break stuff by Limp Bizkit. So that’s where we met and where we get that nu-metal thing from. When we started out, we did some rockier tracks like “God of War”, where we literally say that nu-metal is coming back. Since we’ve said that, everyone’s shooting at us like we’re a legitimate nu-metal band.

Milkie: The thing I like about nu-metal is the campness of it all. It gets so hilarious, and the whole macho thing makes me laugh. Subverting that is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I wouldn’t go as far and say that we’re a nu-metal band. If people want to label us with that, I’m okay with that.

Sam: There are definitely parts where it’s a little bit more rap because we really enjoy that. We’re not a nu-metal band but there are elements creeping in. It’s coming back maybe because we have ‘80s revivals every now and then.

Milkie: Yeah, and everyone’s going to start and sound like Alec Turner and the Arctic Monkeys again … Oh god, no.

In what way does the new single “Your Patron Saints” stand out?

Sam: It’s the poppiest song we’ve done, but I don’t know if people are going to agree on that. It looks poppy to us because we’re looking at it from the back end. Whether there are chords and melodies: things we usually don’t bother with. I think people will find it quite fun, so hopefully, they can pick up some darkness and sorrow from it. It’s been a tough time for everyone.

Milkie: And the song gives you some insight into our individual characteristics and who we are as people, I think.

So “Your Patron Saints” indicates what we can expect from you in the future?

Sam: “Your Patron Saints” is more going to set the scene and is not part of a bigger body of work. It’s not part of the album, but we’re getting closer to that. Every time we write a song, we explore where we can take the sound, and “Your Patron Saints” is a little nudge of WARGASM starting to experiment. We worked on it with Kieron Pepper, who’s spent some time with The Prodigy, and he really helps with the production. We’ve learned a lot of tricks from him, like the North and South London vibe. You can definitely get a sense of where we’re heading because we’re finally learning the tricks that our favorite bands have done. I really hope that there are some bedroom producer kids that like WARGASM and start noticing the details like the jungle beats.

Milkie: I really wanted to write a pop chorus, so we did. At first, Sam wrote a chorus that I didn’t like, so I changed it, and it’s infinitely better.

The music video of “Your Patron Saints” was made in collaboration with director Haris Nukem. What kind of metaphors can we find in the clip?

Milkie: It’s extremely blasphemous that’s all I can say. So if you’re religious, prepare to be a bit pissed of.

Sam: I think people should take from it what they want. We love Haris’ vibe, and he really has his finger on the pulse for anything that has religious vibes. I don’t really think it’s too much religion, but it’s more the cathartic experience. It’s a bit cheesy, but a lot of metal people say that music is their church. When you think about gathering 5.000 people in Brixton Academy, it’s a bit like a ceremony. A moshpit at a metal concert is in fact not really different from, for example, gospel. Instead of clapping, they’re headbanging. Haris really understands cathartic experiences. There’s some sort of intrigue, some very erotic moments … because that’s typical Haris.

Milkie: Haris loves sexy things, and so do I. That’s why we work perfectly together. Sex and sauce.

Sam: But there are also some nice metaphors like blinding the blinds and stuff like that, which I hope people will pick up on. We don’t want to say too much because we want to keep the wow effect.

You’ve only released separate singles so far. Are you working towards a bigger project?

Milkie: No, not yet! The whole point is to work towards something big, but in terms of sitting down and writing an album …

Sam: We actually started to think about it, but we’ve been ignoring it as long as we can because it’s good to develop as an artist. I got to be honest with you, part of the reason why we started WARGASM is that we weren’t satisfied with what was happening in the alternative community. Music wasn’t good enough, in our opinion, compared to other things. Since Slipknot dropped their album, nothing really blew me away album-wise. We want to take our time to develop and do an album when we’re genuinely ready. I don’t see the fucking point of being a songwriter and not try to write really good songs. We want to be good artists and not just artists. The challenge is why we do it.

Do you already have an idea of what direction you’re going in? 

Milkie: We have the luck that we have this system where you can release singles, which is so beneficial for artists. I feel like you should use that as long as you can to see what works, what doesn’t, what you want, what your audience wants, etc., and just develop before you even start an album. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.

Sam: To be honest, I’m ready to make a record, and there’s a couple of ideas going around. When we drop it, I want to have a blistering record that really puts the UK back on the map. I don’t think that’s arrogant or selfish, but I want it to be fucking perfect and make the best thing we can. If you take your time, you’re smart, respect your peers and trailblazers that paved the way before you but also understand the future, you can do that. So, an album is not for this year but let’s see.

Pictures by Haris Nukem and Jessica-Rose Lena

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