Interview Wampire: ‘We’ve Always Been A Party Band’

Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps are here to sink their fangs into 2014.

“Eclectic psych-pop? Some blog did a review and called us art pop pranksters which we thought was funny.”

Wampire are attempting to best describe their off-kilter and slippery psych-pop. “I hate the term artpop though. What the fuck is artpop?” asks Rocky.

Whichever terms are thrown about, 2013 ended up being a landmark year for Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps, the duo who make up Wampire (the name comes from an inside joke from the days of hanging out with Eric’s high school foreign exchange student Manuel). They released their first album, the freewheeling ‘Curiosity’, and toured for nearly the whole year, playing their first ever UK shows.

Friends since fifth grade, they’ve been a duo for five years. It’s strange, then, that they only chose this year to release their debut album. But it’s an album that was all put together relatively recently. “We just wrote it over a short period of time, really,’ Eric explains. “The other four years we were playing around Portland and not being too serious about anything. It was more of a formative lifespan until we got signed to Polyvinyl, and then at that point we started putting the record together in earnest. It feels good to have it out now.”

Rocky nods, “It’s something that we wanted to do the whole time but we never got around to doing. We took a couple of stabs at making a record but never really liked it, never finished it. We needed a little bit of money and label pressure behind us.”

Curiosity, then, is a succinct but vibrant document of Wampire’s five years playing house parties taking in classic influences as well as some slightly off the beaten track. Yet their sound perhaps finds its closest counterpoint in the oddball nostalgia of Ariel Pink or fellow Portlandians Unknown Mortal Orchestra – which makes for a nice, if slightly clumsy, link to the fact that it was produced by UMO bassist Jake Portrait. How did Jake working on the record fit into everything?

“He set the tone for the whole album – a lot of that creepy vibe you’ll find, he kind of put in there. The last week we were recording he said I’ve got this idea I’d like to put in lots of 80s creepy sounding noises – and we were really into that,” explains Rocky.

“And he has this way of making a crisp yet warm record,” says Eric. “That’s what I like; the mix of those two worlds. The Mac Demarco records and Foxygen have that.”

And it’s this mixing of the past and the now that Wampire achieve. Despite becoming well known in the Portland house party scene the band are keen to distance themselves from the limiting idea of a homogenous sound that represents the region. ‘“ don’t think the ‘Portland sound’ has bled into the feel of the record at all,” insists Rocky. “Our friends are our biggest influence and I suppose in that way that’s what makes Portland. But I don’t know, we’re pretty outside the music scene there and we hardly play there anymore. But the town is pretty influential in itself.”

“The vibe of the city of Portland is that it’s comfortable, pretty laid back and that does kind of influence the sound,” adds Eric.

“Maybe we’re just unaware of the influence it has but I don’t think we sound like the Dandy Warhols, and we’re not like Elliot Smith,” Rocky grins.

Since the release of their debut album the band’s world has also grown literally over the last year, going from Portland shows to playing around the world. “We used to play a lot of parties but the shows and the venues still left a little to be desire,” says Eric.

“It’s fun to be a regional band, it really is,” explains Rocky. “You have the power – you just go over to the next town over and play a show and it’s really rewarding. But playing all these shows in Europe really does put perspective on what we were doing. These shows are more fun because they’re more bizarre and exotic. We’ve been here in the UK and done a few laps around the US. Here, Paris, New York and New Orleans have been the best places.”

“It was great that we have a good following in Europe. It’s the first time touring the album and there’s been a great response. Europeans really come out to shows and show their support,” adds Eric.

And now, inspired by playing so many live shows, they’re looking forward to 2014, keen to push their take on things even further. “Our sound has grown a lot in the last couple of months. We’ve got a new drummer and a new synth player, Owen and Thomas. We’ve really settled into a sound: it’s a little more ethereal, a lot more psychedelic rock but I think it’s really blossomed.”

“We didn’t really overanalyse the sound too much before we made the album,” explains Eric. “And I guess we still have a hard time doing that but listening back and seeing what kind of tone the album had helps you figure out what the band sounds like and you take it from there.”

Now they’re ready to hit the studio again. “We have plans to record in the spring” says Rocky. “We’ve been writing songs and figuring out what we’re gonna do and we’re gonna hit the studio.”

“We’ve been talking about how it’s going to play out live – we want to write some more songs that are fun to play. A lot of this record is kind of slow and it’s weird to do a headline show and the majority of the set being pretty slow. We’ve always been a party band in the past and with this record we kind of slowed it down so it’ll be nice to write a record with some more momentum.”

Eric nods. “Playing live has had a big effect on what we want to do with the next record. I’ve been thinking about the audience and if I was in the crowd what would I want to hear.”

2014, you have been warned. Wampire are coming to party.

Tags: Wampire, Features

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

February 2024

Featuring The Last Dinner Party, IDLES, Yard Act, Crawlers, Remi Wolf and more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY