Brudenell and Futuresound Presents...


@ Project House

When most bands get round to releasing album number five their sound, weighed down by expectation or having resorted to formula, has generally ossified. It might still sound good and fans will probably lap it up, but the days of adventure and exploration are quite often long gone. 

Warmduscher are not most bands. Rather than closing up shop, on album number five – the magical Too Cold To Hold – they are most determinedly opening up. Taking on board the repetitive and polyrhythmic grooves of gqom (an alluring South African take on house music), adding in a dash of hip hop flavours and even jazz, and then harnessing that to their punk-funk, disco pogo, it’s a spellbinding mix that results in their best and most ambitious album to date. You could say they – the wonderful 12-legged groove machine comprised of Clams Baker Jr., Benjamin Romans Hopcraft, Adam J. Harmer, Marley Mackey, Quinn Whalley, and Bleu Ottis Wright – were, in fact, just getting started.

“I think we’ve realised we can hit the same emotional zone with different influences,” enthuses Ben about the 2024 version of Warmduscher . “We’re experimenting with different ways of orchestrating the feeling of listening to a Warmduscher song and having the maturity to accept that a lot of the things that we like about ourselves are based on tonality and groove. It’s not just based on having a guitar that sounds fucked up.”

It’s not about forgetting everything you know about Warmduscher, then – they’re still an outfit proudly residing in la-la-land, where chaos reigns and their passionate diatribes and observational absurdities reveal the playful underbelly of modern life – but maybe looking at them from another angle. A diamond might look different in another light, but it’s still a diamond.

Much of this reinterpretation comes from the shock of the new. New influences, new label Strap Originals new goals and a new producer. Previously, the band had worked with outside producers (Dan Carey and Hot Chip’s Al Doyle and Joe Goddard among them) to realise their vision. This time they took it inhouse, trusting Ben, alongside Jamie Neville, to bring their sound alive.

“The melting pot of influences that shape our identity on this record is so personal to us that getting someone out of context would almost seem like creating unnecessary problems,” explains Ben. “So, with the help of my good friend and co-producer Jamie (of Teeth Studios), we were able to focus on how to embrace the influences of the album without putting it through a funnel that needed to be understood by others.”

This choice was not just about control – although Ben and Clams will both state they didn’t “want anyone else’s interpretation of what Warmduscher is to affect the sound” – but being authentic.

“We wanted it to be brutally honest in our depiction of ourselves,” admits Ben. “We’re known for acting in a certain way, playing in a certain way and deploying a certain method. I think the formula for Warmduscher is chaos. In every aspect. There’s a lot of method to the chaos that we adopt, making sure that we are in control of that and the development of that chaos is really important. Otherwise, we’d be in the same loop of giving people what they think they want from us.”

One of the many aces in Too Cold To Hold is that not only does it give people what they want, it also provides what they need. Having come off tour enthused about what the future held for the band, Clams and Ben in particular, “wanted to use the energy of the live shows and put it into something creative rather than turn it into one big hangover.”  

Informed by a practical, philosophical and aesthetical wanderlust the net result is a record that sounds fresh, exciting and distinctive. The spoken-word opener Irvine Intro – delivered by friend-of-the-band Irvine Welsh – gets things off to a suitably surreal start, where Irvine’s unmistakeable comforting tones detail an out of body experience akin to some distorted digital nightmare. From there, the anthemic disco art punk of Fashion Week speaks to both Talking Heads and ESG by way of contemporary afrobeat – in particular the metronomic (and aforementioned) sounds of gqom.

Elsewhere there’s the effervescent lounge rock of Pure At The Heart, featuring the vocals of Confidence Man’s Janet Planet; the wonderfully titled – and realised – Top Shelf Prick, where the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion jam with Roxy Music and the freewheeling blues rock-meets-psychedelic jazz of Immaculate Deception.

The latter – a tale of a misunderstood holy man according – features a bravura rap from east London MC Jeshi. His words take the track from some out there late-period Miles Davis homage into something akin to UK drill. 

“It’s all about different orchestration,” explains Ben. “The only way we know how to operate is by having fun. That’s not to say we don’t take what we’re doing seriously. We do. We take it really seriously. Having fun allows a lightness which in turn allows us to feel more confident about our own sensibilities as musicians which then helps us experiment and create.

This clearly bears fruit in the riotous rhythms of Cleopatras in which Clams and Cou Cou Chloe deliver an infectious and comical narrative of energy sucking aliens conducting social experiments on the heart of the city. 

The final guest in this musical manifesto is arguably the most famous – at least in the south London environs that Warmduscher call home. Lianne La Havas features on Body Shock, a frenetic electronic hymn to the city’s neon lights and “the beautiful dance of the night time workers and seekers of the other side of life”. Mixing LCD Soundsystem’s punk funk rhythms with a shot of rock’n’roll adrenaline it’s a magical slice of motorik beat poetry.

Meeting Irvine and Janet Planet was a result of the band’s nighttime misadventures – both are now firm friends with Clams and Ben respectively. Cou Cou Chloe and Jeshi are friends with Marley and Lianne La Havas is someone Ben has known for a while. The camaraderie fuels the creative process.

“It's a nice, efficient and joyful way of interacting with musicians, rather than pretending to be in competition,” he states matter-of-factly.

The catalyst for the album was Fashion Week. According to Clams it’s a joyous account of fashion’s die-hard fans rather than the more visible arrivistes or dilettantes. “Those that will do anything to become that thing,” he explains. “That creation. And live it. It’s real artistry when you don’t have the means and you’re doing it. You’re hustling to get on the guest list, you get in, you’re done up by means that you can’t really afford, whatever you do… It’s a celebration of people who will do whatever to look good and feel good and step above wherever they are in their own minds.”

The song’s off-kilter rhythms unlocked the secrets to the album. “It felt like a brainwave,” says Ben. “There’s something quintessentially Warmduscher, but it also felt like it leant into these grooves that were a little bit more, slightly more afrobeat-inspired… different elements of African music that I like, contemporary and old. I was thinking, ‘Ok, it’s possible to do this’ and that’s what that song did for me.”

From there the songs flowed. As did Clams’ lyrics. “I was vibed up,” he recounts. “It was exciting. Pretty much all the songs I write I can equate to situations that I’ve been through, or I’ve heard about… friends, certain people, myself or whatever. It’s easy. It’s just storytelling. I just try and make it open enough so people can relate to it rather than just doing a thing where it’s me telling people how it is. I don’t like to explain it.”

As for the album’s title, it’s pleasingly open for interpretation. Clams was sent the track – a crepuscular New Orleans funk rant against the notion of any contemporary gilded age – when the UK’s initial brush with the ongoing energy crisis began. Sat in his freezing flat, scared to turn the heating on because he was worried about bills increasing to inordinate amounts.

“Ben and Marley mentioned Too Cold To Hold and I was laid up in bed, staring at my breath and I was pissed the fuck off. It just rolled into that thing of speaking about what you were doing, but also trying not to… I like to keep some surrealism. A little bit anyway.”

Ben notes the title also is a nice little rejoinder to those who think they’ve got Warmduscher pegged. “We’re such a diverse bunch of people,” he concludes. “Not only our personalities, but also stylistically, artistically, and calling our album that does remind me of the idea of not being able to put us into one place and to think we’re designed to be held in a position.”

Clams agrees: “My interpretation of who we are is pretty simple. A group of talented musicians and entertainers that have dedicated our lives to music and making a living doing what we love. We can’t do anything else really so here we are. What other people think of us is up to them.”

Warmduscher then; don’t define them, just enjoy them.


Have a listen…

Wednesday 6th November 2024

Price: £22.50 Adv. (stbf)

Doors: 19:00

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