We live in garbage times where garbage people make everything feel like trash for everyone else. Wimps is here to provide the apropos soundtrack.
This Friday, the Seattle punk trio releases its third LP, Garbage People (via Kill Rock Stars). The group—consisting of non-garbage people Rachel Ratner (lead vocals/guitar), Matt Nyce (bass), and Dave Ramm (drums)—has long reveled in making quick-paced melodic punk ditties about inane topics (naps, vampires, slovenliness, old food, etc.), and the new album sticks to the winning formula with self-explanatory tunes like “Procrastination” and “Insomnia,” and even sillier songs about life as a prehistoric caveperson (“Cave Life”) or coveting other people’s pizza (“O.P.P.”). While it may not be a punk record that fights the power, it certainly provides some much-needed mental relief from the daily onslaught of awfulness.
Before Wimps celebrates the release of Garbage People with a concert at Clock-Out Lounge this Saturday, July 14 (featuring pizza specials and music from the Fabulous Downey Brothers and Sleepover Club), we caught up with Ratner to chat about adding more details to the band’s sound, bees, and humorous hypothetical solo records.
What is your favorite aspect of Garbage People?
I like that we got to spend a little more time recording it than we have in the past. Normally, we’ve done most of our records over the course of a weekend. This one, we worked out a deal with our friend who runs Pierced Ear Recordings to do a couple weekends throughout last summer. We got to do a couple batches, and that gave us a chance to listen back to stuff and do—in finger quotes—“instrumentation arrangements.” We had the songs done, but it gave us a little bit of time to play around with adding extra percussion or add some harmonies—which we’d never done before. Or invite friends to guest, like Gabi Page-Fort (from Stickers), who plays sax. I like that we got to do a little more fun stuff in the studio. I think that made the songs more fun to record.
And I think the songwriting style got a little better. We’ve been doing this for a while, and every time we do something, we learn a little something new. So I feel like we wrote slightly better songs.
How do you feel that the album differs from past Wimps releases?
I think each of our records are kind of based in the moment of who we are at the time, and this one I think we’re all going through what a lot of people experienced with the tumultuous political times. Some of that more seriousness may have worked its way into the songs and some of the subject matter might be broader than before, but I think they’re still Wimps songs. They’re still fun, fast songs to play—hopefully slightly funny.
What are Wimps’ most garbage-people traits?
I am really bad at remembering people’s names, and it makes me feel like a terrible person. I like everybody, and I recognize meeting them. But as soon as I meet somebody, I immediately forget their name. And I’m meeting people all the time—traveling around and being in a band. So if I’ve ever forgotten anybody’s name, my apologies.
I don’t feel comfortable saying anything bad about Matt or Dave because they’re perfect!
While you’ve been outspoken on a political front through the local organization of events and fundraisers, politics doesn’t ever really seep into Wimps’ music. Is there a reason for that?
It’s not intentional or unintentional. I don’t set out to be like this is gonna be a political song! We did joke about trying to write a song called “Democracy Suicide.” [Laughs]
Whatever we’re writing songs about is like what’s happening that day. So for the song “Bees,” I went to a garage sale and there was a guy there who was really into gardening. I’m learning about gardening, so he was showing me his trees. And he was like, “Oh, I had to hand-pollinate this apple tree because there aren’t as many bees as there used to be.” And I was like, “That is terrible!”
A song like “Garbage People” can be interpreted both environmentally or [as] bad people doing bad things in the world. It’s a case-by-case. If there’s more political stuff on this one, it’s just because it was ever-present in our consciousness. But with that said, sometimes I just felt bad and had a case of the Mondays, so I wrote the song “Monday.”
For “O.P.P.” (which Dave sings), I was at home and Matt and Dave were at a show. And I started getting texts from them that they wanted me to write a Dave Ramm solo album. And they started texting me hypothetical funny song titles, and “Other People’s Pizza” was one of them. And I thought it was so funny that I just wrote the song right there. A sense of humor is important, especially when the world feels terrible and overwhelming. It’s important to find something to be lighthearted about, otherwise you’ll drive yourself crazy.