A debut album, an album launch at Rough Trade Bristol, a Maida Vale session, a BBC 6 Music interview and a sold-out London show: to cite the words of a certain Mr Mercury, “is this the real life, or is this just fantasy?” What it actually constitutes is just Wasuremono’s year so far, and we’re not even half-way through. Jon Kean met the Bradford on Avon four-piece to get a measure of how crazy 2018 has been.
We sit amidst a huge array of kit at the band’s base, The Wilderness Studio. Whatever we either sit upon or around had been dropped there at 0300 that morning, upon returning from playing the Servant Jazz Quarters in Dalston, London, the night before. Despite their heady escapades to the big smoke, the gruesomely late finish, bassist Phoebe Phillips having ‘misplaced’ her car in the massive Westfield multi-storey car park and keyboard wizard, Madelaine Ryan having had to rouse herself not long after going to bed to tend to needy chickens in Frome, they are on unnaturally genial form as we talk through their recent upward trajectory.
For four mere mortals, they have fearless creativity, a collective spark and boundless enthusiasm. They have a conviction in what they do and a pleasantly-surprised gratitude for anyone who buys into those endeavours. As Phoebe says about the previous night’s show, promoted by Parallel Lines, “It’s odd, going to London and people turning out to see you who aren’t your mates or aren’t your family. When we get a big crowd, there’s still a disbelieving sense of, ‘Who are you? What’s your agenda?’”
The agenda has clearly been shaped by that pivotal moment when they received a summons to record a session for Steve Lamacq on BBC 6 Music. Lead singer and guitarist, Will Southward, sums it up thus: “It initially happened live on air. He said, ‘If you’re listening, get in touch. We want you to do something on the radio.’ We’ve still got the follow-up email. It’s all in caps, so it looks like one of those spam emails. But it was genuinely Steve Lamacq personally inviting us.”
Big industry cheese wants you to play live for his show – happy days, surely? How about having just two weeks to be radio-ready? “We hadn’t played two of the new songs off the album live before, that we were playing at Maida Vale,” admits Phoebe. “We hadn’t rehearsed them enough even to play a normal gig, so the pressure was really on.”
Drummer, Isaac Phillips, adds with sibling solidarity: “We rehearsed our tits off in that fortnight. It’s shifted our approach to the live setting to a whole new level. Now we’ve taken that attitude and formula for preparation and applied it to our other songs and it really works. We can now take our older songs and instinctively look at making them rejuvenated and better.”
“When we get a big crowd, there’s still a disbelieving sense of, ‘Who are you? What’s your agenda?’”
Yet Madelaine’s overriding memory of Maida Vale was blank terror and “the massive, long silence that you have to have before you play. The cameras are ready and the red light goes on. You have to wait for twenty/thirty seconds before you start, but you stand there and realise you’ve forgotten how to play. And how to count to twenty.”
And with all of the overt success crammed into the first third of 2018, what effect has this apparently-unfeasible run of successes had? Madelaine says, ”We’d been used to writing to industry people and pushing for gigs, but now we’re in a positive place where people are coming to us.” Will is much more tongue-in-cheek: “It’s turned Isaac into a massive prick.”
In the immediate future, they headline this month’s Nightbus at Mr Wolf’s. I ask what they’re looking forward to most. Isaac declares “Noodles.” They’re already laying down ideas for album number two. Will lives in a permanent state of creative hope: “There’s always the next ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ around the corner.”
Wasuremono play Nightbus at Mr Wolf’s on 19th May, with their album Something Left Behind out now.