In 2010, Warpaint released The Fool and immediately catapulted itself into the hearts and minds of indie music fans everywhere. The all-female quartet stunned listeners with a sound equal parts hauntingly melancholic and satisfyingly shoegaze, backed up by some pretty assertive drumming and moody bass. Warpaint – Emily Kokal (vocals, guitar), Theresa Wayman (guitar, vocals) Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass, backing vocals), and Stella Mozgawa (drums) – recently released their self-titled follow-up album; although that signature Warpaint sound is still there, the album is a tangible departure from The Fool.
“What separates the two records is two and a half years of constant tours,” drummer Stella Mozgawa tells me over the phone from Austin, Texas. “It transforms you not only as a person but as a band in general. Touring is the only way to establish that proper bond, unless you’re making electronic music in a studio or something. It’s the only way to get to know anyone on both an uncomfortable and comfortable level.”
It’s no surprise that getting to know your bandmates in such close quarters on the road can at times be challenging. So what happens when you add an all-female dynamic into the equation?
“There’s a positive and a negative side,” Mozgawa elaborates. “I’ve toured with both guy bands and girl bands and the way guys deal with their issues is totally different to how women deal. Guys are more light. At the same time, men tend to bottle things up until they well into something whereas my bandmates and I talk all the time. It’s intense, but at the same time we get to a place where we feel closer the more and more we communicate and tour and get to know each other.”
Warpaint just launched into their tour for their latest album; this time around, they’re going onto the stage with a newfound confidence and vision for their identity as a band and sound they create.
“We know what works and what doesn’t a whole lot better,” Mozgawa says. “With the first record, we were scrambling to get it done and put out something we would be proud of. There wasnʼt a lot of time or luxury to think about videos or aesthetic collaboration or anything like that.”
For Warpaint, time was on the band’s side: the quartet recorded it over 2011-2013, including sessions at The Joshua Tree working with English producer Flood.
“It was a long demo process and a big preproduction process,” Mozgawa elaborates. “We had a demoing period at the end of 2011 where everyone was getting their individual ideas out and collaborating. Then, we went to The Joshua Tree at the beginning of 2012 for a month and lived in a house together. We were recording the whole time, so some of those jams made it onto the record and stuff from rehearsal made it on. It was like a patchwork quilt – although organically happening, it went on for a while. We officially recorded at the beginning of 2013.”
Not only is Warpaint launching into their tour with newfound confidence and vision—this time around, the band is also backed by some serious media exposure and hype that’s grown rapidly over the past four years. However, Warpaint isn’t too bothered about it. “[The media hype] is not really palpable,” Mozgawa remarks. “We donʼt feel itʼs been this intense crazy ride or feel pressure—it all happens really naturally. To be honest, it just feels like we’re busier—more interviews, we tour for longer, and we spend more time with each other.”
Although the band is excited to tour together, they’re looking forward to burying themselves back into the writing process. “After the tour, we’ll keep writing because we donʼt want it to be too long between records,” Mozgawa says. “We want to get more prolific, but also live our lives at the same time.”
Getting prolific may sound like a challenge, but perhaps not for Warpaint. Judging by the success and quality of both The Fool and Warpaint, the band has been pretty prolific all along.
Warpaint plays The Rickshaw Theatre on May 4th.
By Polina Bachlakova