By Yasmine Shemesh
Wimps like to snuggle. No, seriously. Rachel Ratner says so. When asked about the band’s chemistry, the guitarist from the Seattle-based punk trio says that the group formed as a result of their close-knit relationships. “I’d known Matt and Dave for a while, just being fans of each other’s bands,” she explains. “So it kind of came from us hanging out and playing music. The band snuggles a bit [too], so there’s that.” Physical affection aside, Wimps has a knack for finding fun in the mundane, twisting the woes of daily monotony with infectious, happy, hyper-punk. With lyrics like “Keeping in touch; too hard / Brushing your teeth; too hard,” the sardonic wits of Ratner, bassist Matt Nyce and drummer Dave Ramm make for scrappy ditties that are hilariously neurotic and slathered in bubblegum. If an episode of Seinfeld was a band, it would be Wimps.
Couches, Wimps’ fifth and latest release, dropped in early August. The five-song EP hit just in time for their quick “Summer Vacation Tour” and partially as a motion of gratitude to their fans. “It was just a little fun thing to thank people for listening to us,” Nyce says. The offering is short and sweet but chock full of loud guitar, warp-speed drumming and hearty bass while name-checking all-consuming frustration, yearning and lazy social gatherings on couches. The title track pays homage to a particularly comfortable chesterfield in Ramm’s house. “We practice in Dave’s basement and he’s got a pretty nice setup,” Ratner says. “A lot of practices will be us hanging out on the couch between sessions or having a beer. It’s just another place that we spend a lot of time.” Wimps’ songs are written, for the most part, as an honest reflection of what the trio is experiencing in their lives. As such, Couches’ fast-paced though decidedly distorted tone is due to the hazy summer months it was penned in (and likely, the languid state generated by Ramm’s chesterfield).
If inspiration comes from everyday routine then Wimps’ breakneck jocularity is the tighty whitey that holds everything in place. Finding the amusement in things is, perhaps, the key to dealing with everyday humdrum and it’s a philosophy that Ratner, Nyce and Ramm live by.
“I think something we all share is trying to look at the good and the bad in life with a sense of humour,” Ratner says. “I mean, we’re all in our 30s, we all work and kind of balance being ‘adults’ who have jobs but are also musicians. Having a sense of humour is important, to get through stuff in real life and in our songwriting.”
The band’s sincerity isn’t just limited to their funny bone—Wimps have a genuine respect for their craft and for each other, too. Ratner insists the threesome is continuously growing and learning. “We’re trying more interesting things,” she says. “Dave’s playing more creative drum fills, Matt’s doing some crazy bass lines and I’m trying to become a better guitar player. I’m getting more confident and comfortable singing, which I wasn’t, at first.”
If Ratner was ever unsure of her voice, it’s impossible to tell. Her modesty, however, epitomizes the character of Wimps to a tee: unassuming at the surface but confident, riotous and rooted in the non-conformist traditions of punk at the core. “I think we’re always trying to play music that we like and that’s fun for us,” Ratner continues. “If [it’s] good, it’s a reflection of whoever’s doing it. This is a reflection of all of ourselves.” Daily monotony just got a whole lot more snuggly.
Wimps play at the Biltmore Cabaret on September 12th.
Published in print and online at www.beatroute.ca, September 2014