Even though the words “overcast” and “grey and foggy” are never more than a day away here in the UK, summer is well and truly on the way. Festival season is in full effect, the sunglasses and shorts are beginning to appear in force, and BBQs up and own the country are being dusted off and fired up. The question is, which albums will form the soundtrack to your summer? If you’ve finally had your fix of the self-titled album by Sublime (yeah, right), and the ‘Green Album’ by Weezer no longer takes you away to your own little, ahem, island in the sun, then maybe it’s time to try something new. If that is the case, may we recommend the debut studio album from Plymouth duo Woahnows?
They started out as a three-piece, but right now, the Woahnows are Tim Rowing Parker (guitar/vocals) and Adam Wherly (drums) – with a touring bassist filling in for original bassist Dan James. According to frontman Rowing Parker, “the advantage of being a two-piece band is that we’ve been such tight friends for so long that we have a really good understanding of each other’s styles. And without having to convey that to someone else it makes working out the new stuff way less complicated.”
The Devonshire act define their distinct racket as “noisy poppy indie punk”. That’s an apt description of the 11 songs that make up their frenetically fun debut Understanding and Everything Else (out on Big Scary Monsters Records) which recalls elements of Japandroids, Les Savy Fav, Pup, and original pop-punk heartache heroes the Buzzcocks.
“We just try to find a good balance of the stuff we like from punk and indie and apply it to interesting songs”, says Rowing Parker. “It all comes out a bit more frantic and scatty than we intend, but that’s just how we work so we don’t try to fight it too much.” Channelling their assorted influences into an organic amalgamation of sounds is clearly an approach that works, because the songs that appear on their first full-length effort are amongst the most infectious and melodic fuzzed-out anthems you’ll hear this summer.
“Writing wise, I draw a lot of influence from great folk stuff like Fleet Foxes”, Rowing Parker explains. “Although you would probably never tell.” Buried beneath a wall of frenzied distortion, the influence of such acoustic orientated Americana acts aren’t clearly evident at first, but you can certainly detect a trace of them in the layered vocal harmonies of Woahnows’ breakthrough single Life In Reverse. And the sound of American punk rock certainly feeds into the mix too. “Our sound is definitely akin to all the sick Philly bands like Glocca Morra and Joyce Manor”, agrees the singer, “but with a background of UK punk from the golden Household Names Records era.”
The schizophrenic punk rock of tracks like Livid/Rise and Machono can indeed be traced back to the host of UK ska-core acts signed to said indie label back in the ‘00s (Capdown, Lightyear and Adequate Seven) and their approach to making the album was in a similarly DIY vein. “Between touring and holding down day to day stuff, we realised that we just had to wait for the right moment to record”, reveals Rowing Parker. “We had the whole thing demoed months before we recorded it, but were going through a line-up change and we wanted to know the songs inside and out before we got in the studio.”
“We also live in different cities”, the singer adds, “so (Understanding and Everything Else) was written in chunks wherever we could find enough time to get together.” The pair finally went in to the studio during the first week of January with Paul Russell (Axes, Human Pyramids) and they describe the process as “a really fun experience”, even if financial and logistical constraints meant the clock was against them. “We didn’t have a lot of time which was always on our minds”, admits Rowing Parker, “but that encouraged us to concentrate more on the general vibes of the record rather than everything being perfect. I think we’d sound shit if we were too tidy anyway!”
So what are you waiting for? Crack open a cold one and revel in the delightfully messy array of the “noisy poppy indie punk” from these Plymouth party starters.
For more information on Woahnows and upcoming tour dates, check out their Facebook page.