Q&A: Warpaint's Theresa Wayman Wonders Why There Aren't More All-Girl Rock Bands
In 2008, Los Angeles noise pop quartet Warpaint released their debut EP, Exquisite Corpse , an effort that earned the band massive amounts of attention -- enough so that the band was asked to open for several high-profile acts, including Akron/Family and the nationally sold-out tour from The xx.
Now, after having released their full-length debut, The Fool , in late 2010, Warpaint is back on tour again. And, in advance of her band's arriving in town to perform at The Loft on Monday night, Warpaint guitarist Theresa Wayman took some time to talk with us about her band's new album, their current tour and why there aren't more all-female bands.
How has your tour been so far?
It's been an interesting tour. It's been kind of long. Everyone's sick right now. I've never been sick on a tour, and now I'm sick this time. It's been kind of rough for everyone. We were in a huge snowstorm about a week and a half ago. We had a mini tornado last night, and we had to pull over. Yeah, it's been a weird one. Musically, we've had really good shows, good crowds. The audiences for the most part have been really enthusiastic and welcoming.
Have the audiences changed now that you're headlining your own tour?
Yeah, it's definitely different. Last time, we had fans, but it wasn't as many. We've become a lot more well-known since that tour. It's different since we've been headlining.
You're album deals a lot with feelings of uncertainty and regret. Is that why you called it The Fool?
That's not why we called it The Fool, but that fits into the theme of what The Fool represents. I feel like a lot of society operates around trying to play it cool, and people aren't comfortable with the side of themselves that might be trying to play the fool sometimes. People don't want to learn new things because they don't want to appear stupid or look like they're bad at things. The Fool is about bringing out the idea that we all have an aspect to ourselves that could learn something, that isn't quite complete yet, and that to be comfortable with that is to be a more complete person.
After the positive reception surrounding your debut EP, were you nervous about how the full-length would be received?
I didn't really know what to expect. You can't really know. When you make an album, you don't know what it's going to sound like to other people. You don't know what to expect, even though we had a fanbase of people that were into our music already. I knew that those people would buy our music, and I knew that we had a label behind us this time, and that they'd be pushing it the way labels do.
What song do you think best represents the album?
"Shadows" feels like a complete song to me. "Warpaint" encompasses a feeling that I think really sums up our album. It's coming at you from every angle, but it meets in the middle, in the core.
Who writes the songs? Is it a collaborative process?
Everybody pretty much writes their parts. If I'm playing guitar, I write my part. If Jen [Lee Lindberg]'s playing bass, she'll write her bass line. We'll help each other come up with ideas. But it usually comes together on the spot. Our songs come out of jamming. Or I'll start a song, or somebody will start a song, and we'll play from start to finish, and then everyone will write their parts. The arrangement might change, but not too much. But everyone has say, and we all have to listen to each other and try out each others ideas.
Has there been any significant change in the way you approach writing music as the band's grown?
Yeah. When we recorded The Fool, we had only done one tour in our life, and that tour wasn't even with [drummer] Stella [Mozgawa]. So you can imagine that the sounds have changed a lot now that we're playing them live. There is so much that you realize that works or doesn't work at a live setting, or things that work in parts of a song that you realize only through playing it live. Things have changed a lot. The best thing about our band, and the reason it took a while to get where we're at is because we like to change a lot.
Warpaint is often referred to as being an all-girl band. Does that label ever get frustrating?
It's fine with me, I don't mind. If they need to say that, then they need to say it for a reason. If the reason is that it's a rare thing, then it needs to be said, because that means something can change. Maybe being in an all-girl band doesn't have to be so rare. It doesn't have to be so rare. We're one of the few to be in our position, but I'm sure more and more women and girls will feel more confident to follow suit after seeing others do it.
Why do you think there aren't a lot of all girl bands?
That really baffles me. I could imagine basketball being dominated by men -- that sort of makes sense. Or baseball, things that are obviously male. But music is a medium that seems so emotive, and women tend to get put in the category of being more emotional than men. So it doesn't make sense that women wouldn't just dominate the field of music as well. I guess that men have their male aggression and have dominated almost every aspect of life except besides stay-at-home parenthood, and maybe knitting. They have just dominated everything, and the music industry as well. Girls have allowed it, and women in music don't take their role seriously. Plenty of them have, but you don't see a lot of young girls going to guitar lessons, trying to be as good of a guitar player as Jimi Hendrix. And there are a lot of boys that do that. There are probably a lot more women in music in the classical music field, or orchestras.
Did you have female role models in the music industry?
I didn't really think my role model had to be female, though I did really love Bjork when I was 18, 19, and 20. I really got influenced by her. When I was younger, I loved the The Talking Heads. But I also loved Cyndi Lauper and Tina Turner. I was exposed to a lot of female artists.
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