Interview Wet Paint: Burglaries, Break Ups & Failing Musicians

We aren’t really a band who ‘jam’, I’m basically not good enough.”“

Wet Paint have been having a bit of bad luck recently. Having experienced a burglary that cost the band and undisclosed amount of royalties, amongst other things, they understandably called their latest album ‘Woe’.

And ‘Woe’ is every bit Wet Paint (see what we did there? - Ed.) Following tours with Bloc Party and The Rumble Strips, they’re back, complete with a new graphic novel. We caught up with frontman Babak Ganjei to talk burglaries, break ups and failing musicians from Dalston.

Your album ‘Woe’ is due out today after the band’s been through a bit of bad luck. Are things looking any better now?
There’s been a lot going on at the moment: burglaries; break- ups; I’m in the process of moving house as we speak, it goes on. Yesterday we played an album launch affair in London, and our door man phoned as the doors were opening to say he was in a traffic jam in Stonehenge. So I sat there at the door taking money for our own gig which feels a bit douchy (I don’t know if that is a word) and thought maybe next time I’ll go for a more positive title.

What can you tell us about the album?
The album was recorded in bits and bobs with our friend Ashley Workman. He was busy engineering the Metronomy album at the the time too so we would get blocks of time here and there. Because of the way it was done, it was a lot more considered in terms of mixing and so quite a contrast to the first record, which we just sort of bashed out.

Could you explain a bit more about how the recording processes differed?
With the first album we were very much documenting what we had written and we just recorded it all live all of us together. Three of us were in Absentee at the time and it was very much a case of ‘let’s record this so we can remember what we’ve done.’ It then turned out to become a record. With ‘Woe’ it was a lot more like ‘ok, we are an actual band in our own right.’ We still record live with everyone in the room, we’ve never mastered all that playing to click business and I don’t think it would ever suit us to do that. But we had the luxury of a bit more time so we could think and develop stuff as we were doing it, which was a nice luxury to have.

Are there any tracks that you’re especially proud of?
There are moments on the record where things happened which don’t usually happen with our band. We aren’t really a band who ‘jam’, I’m basically not good enough. To an extent songs are written and, at least as far as I’m concerned, I know where I’m going in them. But with this there are a couple of moments, for instance with ‘Lynchstrumental’ and ‘Distant Memory’, both came out of bits of noodling in the studio. I’m proud of those songs because it was working in a new way and making something from nothing together.

If your flat hadn’t been burgled, what would you have written about?
I’m just a bit of a pessimist, a lot of this album was written before I’d gotten burgled. Maybe I should have a re-listen. I’m over it, It’s only stuff.

Tell me about this graphic novel you’ve written.
So I have a band full of very talented individuals and everybody does other projects, Melinda (drums) plays with Singing Adams; Laurie (guitar) plays with Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards; Macks (bass) runs a studio in Highbury and is turning into a remix wizard, so in one of the periods where everyone was doing their other things I started to make this book. It wasn’t planned necessarily as a book, just little stories, but about halfway into doing it I realised it actually followed a narrative. That makes it sound shambolic; it’s actually probably one of the better books written in the last couple of hundred years about failing indie musicians in the Dalston area. It really needs to be read. It’s called ‘Hilarious Consequences’.

Where can people find it?
At the moment it’s in a handful of good comic shops around the country, and Foyles in London. Rough Trade had it and may still have some, but you can get it from us from our own label site.

You released a split 7” with Matthew CH Tong for Record Store Day. Why is RSD important to you?
It’s important to me because I foolishly started helping run the aforementioned label (Records Records Records) at the time when selling records seemed so difficult. I did that because I’m old enough (not that old) to still be one of those people who enjoys going to record shops and buying actual things. The great thing about RSD is that it brings that record shop relationship back to people’s attention, even if it is for the one day. Also from a label point of view, it means we can be a bit more risky with what we choose to make and introduce artists to people’s attention, as there seems to be a bit more willingness to embrace new things. It’s that or they’re buying stuff to put on eBay, who knows? I told you I have a pessimistic streak!

You’ve been compared to the likes of Pavement and Sebadoh, how does it feel to be likened to such iconic bands?
It’s nice to have your name in with the bands you love but I can’t take any of that seriously. It was probably me making the comparisons anyway.

Do you agree with those associations? If not, who would you suggest instead?
I absolutely love those bands! I don’t really hide influences very well, I think there’s a bit of it all in there: Sonic Youth, Dinosaur, Pixies. We do listen to lots of stuff, it’s just that this is the kind of music the four of us make when we get together.

Wet Paint’s new album ‘Woe’ is out now via Records Records Records.

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