The Wombombs

Published on April 5th, 2018

© Jim Hall / Primitivejim.com

Sounding at peak moments like a fiery union of The Cramps and James Brown, The Wombombs are staging a reverb-soaked rock ’n’ roll revival here in South Florida, and illustrating their new breed of vintage with a splash of cinematic visual style. The video for their new single, “Fukushima Fishnets,” presented here, is a suave and briefly bloody homage to the master of ultraviolent cool, Quentin Tarantino. So there’s also a car ride.

The track itself shakes, rattles and glides on a current that calls forth classic surf as well as the The Specials’ tower of ska, “Ghost Town.” Guitar, bass, drums and saxophone are the band’s instruments and talismans. On other tracks — the shimmying “Out of Touch,” and the anguished “I Don’t Wanna Wake Up” — it is the untreated, unaltered human voice — long may it wail — that sounds the all-rise.

The Wombombs play April 6 at Voltaire in West Palm Beach. Founder, singer, guitarist and songwriter Andrew Pino (formerly of Que Lastima) took a break from preparations to talk to PureHoney by e-mail about the video and the upbringing that imprinted itself on his music. Here’s the (lightly edited) Q&A.

How did The Poorhouse in Fort Lauderdale come to be a key setting for the “Fukushima Fishnets” video? And who let you guys in?

It kinda just fell into place. It was ideal because of its central location to the car scene that [follows]. Not to mention, not every bar or venue allows you to swing katanas around and throw blood all over the floor. Having known the owner, Jay [Hemple], for a long time (from playing there with multiple bands in the past), he was my first choice.

The drive-away sequence at the end, under the New River, is gorgeous and hallucinatory. How did you shoot that?

I know very little about cinematography, but I have learned that some scenes require more planning than others (time of day, traffic, weather, etc). It was filmed from the back of a motorcycle. It was the only way I could imagine getting decent long shots of the car. The cameraman (Rob Kingsley of Fuzz Baby Records) was sometimes seated backwards to get a more controlled shot.  Before we started shooting, I went over the maneuvers, speeds, and trajectories with both the driver of the Cadillac (Dave Faber of 430 Boardroom) and the motorcycle rider (Matt Baker). Once we established the general game plan, we gave it a go, and were decently satisfied with the results!

The Wombombs’ music is visceral, but also feels like it’s emanating from a distance, and not just because of how it’s produced. The sound is very 20th Century, foundational rock ’n’ roll. What about that era attracts you, especially when so much music-making today has a very different, and digital, sensibility?

I think it all comes down to honesty (or “doing what you know” as some people like to say). Everyone is attracted to and influenced by certain things when they are children, and I think it often manifests itself in what they do as an adult.  When I was in school, I was always the youngest in my classes, and it always felt as though I was at the threshold of the cut-off to some type of societal or social upbringing. Over a decade later, it still feels that way. Fortunately, music (and art) allow you to sort of create your own world, and you don’t need to be concerned with what everyone else does in their worlds.

“I Don’t Wanna Wake Up” made me think of both theater and church. It starts with what plays like a curtain-raising, or the first sentences of what’s going to be a stemwinder of a sermon.

Believe it or not, I was raised by Baptists, so that’s not too far off. However, if I was gonna pinpoint it (at least in regards to the intro), I’d have to credit James Brown. He was an amazing performer, and I always loved his ability to grab your attention by punctuating a song with hits. The song plays on manic depression, codependency issues, and delusional coping mechanisms … so I can understand the association with church … especially in regards to the delusional coping mechanisms. The rest of the song is more or less a sped-up doo-wop  arrangement.  A lot of songs in that genre worked with overly obsessive and eerily delusional content (whether it was meant to be or not), so I suppose it came second nature.

The Wombombs perform April 6 at Voltaire in West Palm Beach with The Zoo Peculiar, The Grumps and Jersey Glamburger ~ Sean Piccoli | Photo used with permission from PrimitiveJim.com

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