Defiance in the music industry, whether it be a reaction to pigeonholing genres or to the power of the press, is something that has become almost time-worn in its effect. Anarchy! Disaffection! Disillusionment! Sticking two fingers up has become hackneyed and, at times, ludicrously commodified — one only needs to wander through Camden to see “anarchic” vests and snapbacks. Yet musicians have adapted with this change, seeking anonymity as a way to defy media representation (Daft Punk, Headless Horseman, Bob Log iii).
Enter: warm shower-loving wimp, mollycoddle, candy-ass, milksop, namby-pamby, jellyfish, poltroon, wuss — or, in German, Warmduscher. While the band don’t hide their faces — although the lead singer did look like he was disguised as a side-kick from a ‘70s gangster movie — they’re cryptic in their public personas, giving themselves amusing nicknames (Clams Baker Jr., The Saulcano, Lightnin’ Jack Everett, Mr. Saltfingers Lovecraft, and Little Whiskers) and rarely answering interviewers straightforwardly. Comprised of members from Childhood, Fat White Family and Paranoid London, Warmduscher have been making music for a couple of years now, but have limited themselves to one album, perverse videos and one-off shows. Back playing more regularly, the band have announced the release of their next LP Whale City, coming out on the 1st of June via The Leaf Label.
They arrive at Salford’s Eagle Inn on the verge of their stage time, having been in session with Marc Riley for the evening just round the corner at the 6 Music studios in media city. Without Saulcano (formerly of the Fat Whites and now leading man in Insecure Men) for the evening, as he was supposedly suffering from gout, the band are an odd mismatch as they squeeze onto the stage taken over by Here Lies Man’s huge Orange amps. Little Whiskers spends the whole set twiddling nobs on a small handheld sequencer, ending every song with a flurry of oscillating notes which add an extra layer of discombobulation, filtering high and low pitched wobbles into the band’s sonic chaos.
An odd mix of influences pervade the performance, and the sound moves from rock ’n roll to punk to post-punk to garage rock with sudden leaps. Saltfingers and Lightnin’ Jack Everett keep the rhythm section tight, with the former laying down unerring bass lines that, with Everett’s tight drumming, provide the backbone of their tracks. Clams Baker buzzes in his tiny portion of stage space, venting, spitting, tumbling words over the music, his American lilt sounding of Orange County heritage. Unfortunately, due to the size of the amps on stage, very little of what he said was discernible to the packed-out Eagle Inn, and the audience was left translating his t-shirt with its motto: “Look listen, life is lovely. But I can’t live it”, and his finger-pointing for song meaning.
On record, Warmduscher are a tight garage rock outfit with choruses and driving distorted guitar chords abound. Latest single ‘Big Wilma’ is a pithy example of this as it careers through its two and a half minute life with Clams Baker barely catching breath between chorus and verse. ‘The Sweet Smell of Florida’ is more laid back and has the mixture of groove and chaos reminiscent of a Zappa or Beefheart track, with the rhythm section seemingly always at odds with the unstructured work of Clams and Whiskers as they seek to derail any sort of tangible tune.
It seems, however, that with the loss of clarity of the vocals, Warmduscher became something of a noise band, and Clams was reduced to a miscreant shouting unabashedly at the audience. His strangely romantic lyrics on ‘1000 Whispers’ were overshadowed by the hollering chorus ‘2! 3! 3! I’m down on my knees’, and the neo-crooner aspect, with backing vocals and all, was lost behind Whiskers’s noise box. On another night, in another venue, with Saulcano and the missing guitar, Warmduscher could be powerful, engaging and, downright defiant. So, keep an eye out for the Whale City tour that is likely to commence later in the year, it has the potential to be great.