Electronic Duo Wargasm on Crowd Feedback, Pushing Boundaries and Not Rushing

Photography by Tom Medwell

“There’s no point in putting out an album until it’s gonna be fucking perfect.” So says Milkie Way, one half of electronic rock duo WARGASM. Two people and a whole lot of noise. That’s what this band is.

Bassist and additional vocalist, Milkie is joined by main vocalist Sam Matlock as they discuss over Zoom how quickly things are going for them at the moment. “I feel like the speed at which we’re moving, a lot of people are asking where’s the album,” she continues. “In the grand scheme of things, you know, The 1975 were a band for like 10 years before they even dropped their first album. So I don’t know why people are rushing so much. Also, I feel like we’ve got a good flow with our release of singles that lets us still find who we are as a band. It lets us release small bits of things and then move on and adapt and grow a little bit before we release the next thing we don’t have to commit to anything too much like a long form album or EP.”

Awarded “Best UK Breakthrough Band” at the Heavy Music Awards this September, the East London-based heavy electro rockers who take equal inspiration from Slipknot and The Prodigy, are pick- ing up steam. Fanbases are growing across the UK, Germany and Russia. Their live shows have lived up to the potential of the countless livestream performances they’ve had to do over the past 18 months. Playing for an online audience isn’t the way a band like this would prefer to start their career but it’s not get- ting them down. “I think there’s a lot of bands which kind of cut their teeth on their local club scene where they’re gaining the knowledge of themselves, their knowledge of their own tunes, the knowledge of where they want it to go. I feel like our kind of generation of bands’ equivalent of the club scene is the lockdown” explains Sam, before Milkie picks up the conversation. “It pushes you into completely new spaces, like we had to kind of completely adapt to existing online, which maybe people had to do before but not to that extent. We did a fuck ton of livestreams. It was a new space for us and for a lot of other bands as well.”

The live shows have cemented them as one of the UK’s most exciting acts. They’ve played the main stage at Download Pilot music festival this past sum- mer as well as appearing at the formidable Reading and Leeds festival weekend. Their show at London’s infamous metal/rock venue, The Underworld, saw fans screaming Wargasm’s lyrics right back to the faces of the band. “The Underworld’s like a real rite of passage for bands, isn’t it?” observes Sam. “Band’s normally do it on their first album cycle or just before it. So to be there with no fucking EP or anything, just a handful of tracks is quite fun.”

“I think a lot of the time what happens at the gigs informs how the tracks should go,” explains Milkie. “Not because you write tracks for other people, but because when you play certain tracks live, you see how people react to them. You see what bits make them go feral. And you’re like, ‘oh, well let’s do more bits like that.’”

A real crowd pleaser is their single “PYRO PYRO”, an absolute monster of a song mixing heavy riffs, electro beats, hardcore lyrics and Milkie’s ethereal bridge. It ticks a lot of boxes as to what makes a hit but was originally marked as a B-side (to their “Your Patron Saints” single) and very nearly didn’t get the exposure it deserved. “When I was writing the riffs and the words I just thought it was gonna be a bit of a laugh,” explains Sam. “That’s all it was. And now it’s actually one of my favorites to play live.”

Milkie chimes in to say that Sam originally wrote her vocal parts of the song with Grimes or Nadya from Pussy Riot in mind. “I think people like “PYRO” because it’s full of PlayStation samples,” Sam explains. “That’s actually why I was interested in Grimes. I’d made a kick drum and a bunch of snares out of gunshots and missile sounds from a very old Konami PlayStation game. The beat references those old loading screen soundtracks. I was reading an interview with Grimes where she said she made loads of shit out of video game noises. I always wanted to use them because a lot of the media that came from the early aughts and late 90s feels awesome but also nostalgic and in a safe space. I wonder if there’s something a little subconscious in there that people are picking up on in “PYRO” when they hear it. I remember in lockdown I wrote it and finished it on a Sunday and on the Monday I said I wanted Grimes or Nadya. That week Nadya fell into our DMs and was like ‘yo, what’s up?’ and I was like that’s weird because I didn’t tell anyone about this. I spent the entire weekend DMing her back and it kind of just fizzled out. But I’m sure with the way things go, we’re gonna have to cross paths at some point.”