If Kafka could craft air-tight punk songs and write with a sense of humor, he would have formed a band called Wimps. This punk trio is having one hell of a time finding a strange joy in the mundane.
New York is about to get two chances to witness some of the most exciting music coming out of the Pacific Northwest. Guitarist and lead singer Rachel Ratner, bassist Matt Nyce, and drummer Dave Ramm celebrated Garbage People, their nimble 13-song album released last month (July 13, 2018) on Kill Rock Stars.
Wimps released their first LP Repeat in 2013 and have steadily built a dedicated following in Seattle. Read any Emerald City publication and you’ll often see them referred to as “punk darlings.”
And rightly so. Nyce, Ramm, and Ratner stand out as clear jewels in their press pose surrounded by a pile of suspect refuse. The Best of Seattle reader poll voted them as “Best Punk Band in Seattle” in 2015.
Their first single, “Giant Brain” begins with an upbeat riff. As Ratner sings, “I’m an office worker, information pusher, my days have purpose, and I’m building a giant brain,” the tune soon shifts into a scronk-filled burst and a vocal howl. Credit director Marcy Stone-Francois with her deliciously retrofitted approach undertaken in their music video.
While their playful rhythms are often upbeat, Wimps is not simply kidding around. To wit, their songs cover a range of subjects that tirelessly move from destructive climate change, gender pay inequity, and the tedium of holding down a day job. However, they take great joys in the simple pleasures of mischief. And you best hold onto your slice, as the band also wants to steal your pizza.
New Pulp City had an opportunity to hear from guitarist and singer Rachel Ratner in the midst of their current tour. Ratner took the time to discuss the band’s recording approach for their new release and weigh in about mohawks as well as bassist Dave Ramm’s curious pizza obsession.
Donny Levit, New Pulp City: I admit our email conversation can’t really compete with the interview you did a few years back in a hot tub. Whether it’s one of your previous EPs, or your new album, you seem to enjoy each other’s company a heck of a lot. How’d the three of you find each other?
Rachel Ratner, guitar and lead vocals: It’s a classic tale of boy meets boy meets girl in the underground Seattle punk scene. We were all in different bands and knew each other through shows and decided to give it a go!
DL: When you wrote and recorded Garbage People, did your approach or style change at all for the new album? I hear some keyboards and saxophone in there. Rumour has it there’s a cowbell, too, but that has yet to be confirmed.
Rachel: Unlike our previous records which we recorded over the course of a weekend, we worked out a deal to record this record over a series of weekends throughout the summer. This gave us time to listen back to tracks and come up with fun “arrangements” including extra percussion, keyboard, and sax solos. We were very stoked to be able to have local sax legend Gabi Page-Fort grace our songs with some epic squeals and scronks.
DL: What do you think about the word “punk,” or more specifically, being called a “punk band” in 2018? None of you are sporting a mohawk. Today’s punk sounds like Wimps, Lithics, and Parquet Courts to me. What about you?
Rachel: I think punk has always been more a mindset than a musical style. Take contemporaries X, Black Flag, and Devo. All considered punk, 0 mohawks, and as varied as anything today. Punk is doing your own thing. Like being too old to be in a punk band.
DL: Your video for “Giant Brain” is a lot of fun. I haven’t seen retro computers or graphics like that in a long time. How’d it come together?
Rachel: We played a laser show (Laser wimps!!) and wanted to do a music video that included lasers. We asked our friend Marcy Stone-Francois if she wanted to help and before we knew it she came up with the concept and did the graphics and everything. She has super cool slick style and came up with it. We just sang through the song once. Best type of video!
DL: Are you looking forward to your upcoming tour and passing through New York? You’re playing both Berlin in Manhattan (August 10) and Alphaville in Brooklyn (August 11). We wouldn’t dare ask you if you have a borough preference. Unless you wanted to answer…
Rachel: We love visiting New York. Bagels, bagels, bagels. [My] grandparents are originally from Bay Ridge and Dave grew up there too (what a coincidence!) so I guess we have to say Brooklyn, though they’re all great, obvs.
DL: Speaking of, we have to ask. Your song “O.P.P.” which, not to give too much away, is about pizza. Do you intend to steal a few slices while you’re in NYC? Of course, we don’t want to pre-incriminate you in this article.
Rachel: Yes. Dave is planning on stealing all the pizzas in NYC. We wish we could stop him. People think it’s a joke song but it’s a sincere plea for help.
We highly recommend catching Wimps when they hit town. Honestly, it’s a giant no-brainer.