interview: Wimps

On July 13, 2018 Wimps return with a brand new album titled Garbage People. The release is their latest on the Kill Rock Stars label and has the band tackling everything from the current political climate to pizza. Before the album's official release, Rachel Ratner of the band was kind enough to answer a few questions. PLUS, you can listen to the album's title track while you read!

The Grey Estates: One of the first things that struck me in reading up on the album was the line about this being a sonic leap forward for the band. What made you decide to take this leap and incorporate elements like saxophone and cowbell? Has that been something you thought about doing for awhile?

Rachel Ratner (Wimps) : In the past we would write and record albums rather quickly, often over a weekend.  For this record, we wanted to give ourselves more time to try out different ideas, so we booked multiple weekends throughout the summer to write and record at a more leisurely pace.  This gave us the flexibility to experiment with fun instruments (you should have seen me try to play the vibraslap), as well as a chance to collaborate with musicians like Gabi Pagefort (Tissue / Dragons / Stickers) who wrote and played some amazing sax parts. 

What have you learned in between doing each album and how have you changed as a band and as a people? Can you still relate to the old material you put out or do you find yourself always wanting to look forward?

We put a lot of ourselves in our songs, and it’s only natural to grow as people, so yeah, I guess our new album must reflect that. A lot of our previous record had to do with coming to grips with being in our 30s, so it’s neat to listen back to those songs and remember what we were thinking and feeling at the time.  It’s like a magical musical time machine.

Some of the tracks on this album really tackle some important issue. What inspired you to write about gender inequality ("Giant Brain") and the decline of bee population? Do you think speaking out on the things that matter personally is an important trait for a band to have? Is there anything you haven't tackled yet that you'd like to in future songs?

We wrote Garbage People during, to put it lightly, a tumultuous political climate, which I think caused our new songs to be a little more outward focused than our previous stuff.   A lot of the issues we sing about were weighing heavily on our minds, and not writing about them felt disingenuous.  I can’t say that it needs to be important for all bands to speak out, but it was important for us. It’s hard to guess what our next songs will be like, I suppose they’ll write themselves based on whatever the future turns out to be. Perhaps the doldrums of working in a virtual reality world?

What was the process like for recording/writing this album? How do you work as a group or do you work individually and then come together?

Typically, though not always, I would write the basic skeleton of a song and then play it for Matt and Dave who would flesh out their parts and help polish up the song structure. When it came time to record, I had a general idea of how I wanted the songs to go, and Matt would use his sonic vision to help arrange and produce the songs, while Dave would be on hand to provide a steady stream of snackers and inspiration to stay focused.  Voila!

Since you also sing about pizza - what is your dream pizza and is there a pizza place that you thinks makes the best pizza?

Everyone who knows our drummer Dave, knows that Dave loves pizza. I couldn’t have written O.P.P. (Other People’s Pizza) without Dave as my pizza muse, so I think the question can best be answered by him: “I have very plain tastes in food and basically the diet of an 8 year-old. My dream pizza is just a well made thin crust cheese pizza. I'm from Brooklyn and my favorite pizza I've ever had has been Brooklyn pizza. There's a place called L & B Spumoni Gardens that is one of my favorite, but it's hard to pick. They have really delicious Sicilian (square) slices there. My father takes me there every time I visit Brooklyn and I love it every time."-Dave

Is there a track on this new album that you think epitomizes what you hoped the album would sound or be like? Or do you have a track that you particularly love?

We’re really proud of how all the songs turned out on this record. I think Garbage People is a great punk song with a killer bass line. And Baggage was a jump for me lyrically and melody-wise. Mope Around sounds different than other songs we’ve written and also has a pretty sweet guitar lead.  And Dave sings in O.P.P. which is sure to be a hit!

In the spirit of the track "Mope Around" what are you go to solutions for the days you're feeling like you want to mope around or you're feeling blue?

I tend to experience depression in the form of anxiety and have a hard time sitting still. When I’m feeling down or overwhelmed, I usually try to make a list of everything I need to do, and try to check off a few of those list items throughout the day. I find that keeping busy helps me get my mind out of whatever anxious loop I’m stuck in.  For example, answering these questions is on today’s list, along with “call mom,”  and “watch nature documentary.”

What were you listening to, reading, eating, etc. during the making of this album?

I’ve been trying to learn more about my musical fore-bearers, so mainly I was listing to a lot of cool femme / female fronted punk. I also had recently started eating a more plant-based diet so I was trying to figure out how to eat not-meat. Lot’s of CHEESE.  Book-wise I’ve been primarily into non-fiction.  Some of the books I read recently included: The Genius of Birds (about how smart birds are), Between the World and Me (maybe the best book I’ve ever read), and The Information: A History A Theory, A Flood (about how information has changed the course of human history).