Post-punk daydream, or post-punk nightmare? A chat with Warmduscher

Ahead of their Brighton show at the Old Market for The Great Escape Festival, we spoke to Warmduscher about all things South London, tattoos and TV chefs.

We station ourselves round the back of the venue and help another band with their load-in, before being greeted by Clams baker Jr (frontman) and Ben Romans-Hopcraft aka Mr Salt Fingers (bass), who invite us into their dressing room.

Aware of a previous description of the band as an “impromptu house party band amid the debauched so-called ‘South London scene’ of the mid 2010s” and being, myself, somewhat familiar with the boys-in-bands that strum south of the river, I was keen to hear their current thoughts on the aforementioned ‘scene’.

BEN: Uuuuhhhh I don’t really think about it as much as I used to I guess the whole classic thing of pandemic and you feel disconnected; It doesn’t really enter my mind as much as it used to. I don’t really see it as the South London scene I just see it as the new band scene now, I think a lot of bands have begun using it as like a cliché; I’ve noticed a few people doing it where they say ‘oh yeah I’m from the South London scene’ but you’re like ‘you guys are from North London’, not that I even care but I think thats been happening a bit…

CLAMS: Is it still a big scene? I’m so far removed, it seems like its been going for a while which is really good, because I remember when they did the Brooklyn thing when I first moved here and it was all the Brooklyn scene and that lasted like 2 years.

When thinking of the Warmduscher sound, words like: seedy, sleazy and dirty  all come to mind. They’re wrapped in a sort of refined clarity, together with a taste of greasy American neon, and an undeniable musical excellence and originality. The hip-hop influences, in addition to that South London post-punk energy, are indisputable. What influences form such an amalgamation?

BEN: Well at the moment I’m listening to a lot of like textural music, so I’m really into anything that crosses rhythms over, very basic syncopated kind of grooves; I’ve just been thinking about how to develop sonically in a way which is a little more percussive, rather than just thinking about how we can develop melodically or earwormily.

We’ve all heard the tales of Warmduscher’s impromptu forming at a new years eve house party, but I want to know how they birthed it, the sound… Is there a method to the madness? Its conception that is…

BEN: To create it? We just play riffs. It’s a very base level way of explaining it, but Clams just started doing this thing where he’d create like phrases over us playing riffs. I joined the band slightly later than the original members but that was kind of the concept before I joined and we carried it on, then we morphed into slightly more hip-hop lead influences like Paul from the beastie boys; we were really interested in the idea of sounding more like punk music but it was hip-hop – hip-hop that’s sort of melded with guitar riffs.

And now for some (Sort of) quick fire (or so we thought) questions…

Who’s got the best nickname?

BEN: Marley coz he’s just called BUNZ.

CLAMS: Everyone’s is a little too thought out whereas his is just self explanatory… BUNZ!

What’s your service station shopping list?

CLAMS: Oooooo Jesus we need Adam here for that.

BEN: Adam is sort of the wizard of the service station. The service station wizard. But I usually take it back quite old-school. It’d always be like Snickers bar, crisps and a drink. I compound that now with Haribos coz it’s quite a good way of getting endorphins. Especially after touring.

What’s your favourite Haribo?

BEN: Pinballs! There like crack basically – soooo addictive. They shouldn’t be given to kids really.

Who’s your favourite TV chef and why?

BEN: I’d have to say probably Bourdain.

CLAMS: Yeah, for sure.

BEN: Because you know he’s such a dodgy chef. He’s from the tradition of like steak and crème brûlée, and I just really like that he was honest. He was the connoisseur of the old-school New York thing whereas now all the chefs use like nduja sausage and everything and its all very Instagrammy.

CLAMS: I had never actually watched him but then Ben turned me onto it, I always had this thing against it like I just wouldn’t watch him, I think because everyone else was so obsessed but then over lock down I got literally just obsessed, I started going through his old back stuff.

BEN: He was a bit cheesy like he was a bit of a culture fetishizer before he reached his final form. He’s like a real safe space. The one that I liked was I think Sicily and he didn’t turn the cameras off when they were throwing stuff.

CLAMS: Also in Jamaica when he’s talking about Chris Blackwell and he kept the cameras rolling when they were telling him to turn it off; he was asking local fisherman what they actually felt and the camera was on these scary body guards who were threatening the fisherman like not to say anything bad about the guy. Shit like that I was like “wow this guy’s amazing” I really fell into it after he’d gone or whatever.

BEN: I also like that guy on YouTube who like throws eggs at his food. How to basic? Yeah like he’d do how to…roast a chicken! And he’d just have like a raw chicken and like put it down the toilet and throw eggs at it.

If you had to get someone’s face tattooed on you, who’s would it be? … And you can’t say Antony Bourdain…

Ben [quick assured and assertive]: his [points to Clams], You know like Steve-O’s one on his back.

Clams: I’ve got one! It’s little Richard. I’ll have James Brown as well. I’m gonna get a lobster next, I have it booked today actually, after this interview.

Interview and photos by Reuben Davies Lindley and Maisy Banks

Thanks to Warmduscher for the interview, catch them on tour all year! We’ll be there at Brixton, November 11th.