Wussy are that rare thing, a band with heart, soul and integrity, who take what they do, but not necessarily themselves, too seriously. The Cincinnati based ‘indie-rockers’ are Ohio’s forerunners of New Midwestern Psychedelia. With an extensive back catalogue of passionately crafted tracks, albums bulging with throbbing Rock and enriched with melancholic Blues. The band forge songs of melodic musicianship from Joe Klug’s drums, Mark Messerly’s bass and John Erhardt’s pedal steel, with a skilful talent for songsmithery in writing duo, Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker.
Wussy consistently release outstanding music into the world and tour relentlessly. Growing their ever increasing, loving, fan base by bringing their music to adoring audiences throughout the US, UK and Europe. However, if you haven’t yet heard their music, nor seen them perform live, you can be forgiven. As far from the pretentions of media hungry scensters and limelight panderers, Wussy instead prefer spreading their word via a more wholesome, word of mouth approach to promotion. Always working with a collaborative network of good people and promoters, independent and intimate venues that are perfectly suited to showcase the bands trademark; emotive, amusing, provocative, often ‘tongue in cheek’, and always engaging sound.
New LP ‘What Heaven Is Like’ is perhaps the bands darkest offering to date, acknowledging world events since 2011’s daytripping ‘Strawberry’ and 2016’s harder ‘Forever Sounds’. The couple of years passed since the ‘Forever Sounds’ LP and tour seemed to have flown by. So we asked Lisa and Chuck if their time since returning home had mainly been spent working on the new LP, or if the band had all had time to fit in living their lives (and running Chucks amazing Americana Ebay store) too?
(Chuck) “A lot of both, really. After the 2016 tours we took a bit of time off. Some of us got “real” jobs, Joe and his wife had a baby (Georgia!) and we just got back into being home. But we are pretty much always working on songs. Messing around with melodies, lyrical ideas, covers. We’ve done it for so long that it’s normal for us & my eBay store waxes and wanes. Some people consider my tastes to be a little odd. We can’t all have our fingers on the pulse.” (Lisa) “Chuck’s modest and won’t say it, but his store is really cool. The rest of us work in film, art cataloguing, the service industry, etc. And our combined schedules can be a little all-over-the-place. But we always make time for practice and recording.”
With so much going on in the US, the wider world and in everyone’s own individual lives, has the new album been a way to respond to, or even escape from current global events’?
(Chuck) “A mix of the two, I’d say. Some of it is definitely a response to “current events”, either directly or otherwise. It’s hard not to be at least somewhat affected by it. There’s some real stupidity out there. But there’s also the healing aspect of being creative. There are times that we sort of bury ourselves in it. I’m not sure it’s always to escape. Sometimes I think it’s simply for the joy of doing it.” (Lisa) “I write a lot of my lyrics in the studio, and many of our days at Ultrasuede coincided with some fairly distressing news cycles. I do try to stay focused when I’m there, but I can’t help but look at my phone, you know? And I tend to go to news, Twitter, stuff like that. For me, some lyrics ended up being a direct reaction to events I was reading about, with others a bit more indirect. Inspired by books or television, etc”.
Although the mood of the album ‘What Heaven Is Like’ is in part a reflection upon such issues and events, and even against the relentless tide of of seemingly endless months of incessantly bleak news cycles, Lisa reminds us that, “we’re all in this together”. When together we look and listen we can still find examples of courage, of hope and opportunities for change. Such positivity particularly shines through like a beacon on the new ‘Fargo’ inspired single “Gloria”. The spoiler free narrative tribute to season 3’s heroine, Gloria Burgle is in larger sense, a portrait of an inscrutable everywoman who dares to stand up to an omnipresent, almost supernatural, villain. As such the track resonates with wider world events, as Lisa explains, “I was very inspired this year by several women who dared to put everything on the line, even their own lives, to stand up for what is right. I tried to show my respect for this great courage in the re-telling of Gloria’s story”
(Lisa) “We always felt that song was a good candidate for a more cinematic sound… mellotrons, synths and all that. Kind of a Springsteen meets Alan Parsons Project. Not sure if it turned out that way, but that’s the feel we had in mind. The lyrics to that song weren’t finished until right before I sung it. But the basic structure was there.. I had the title and about half of the lyrics. We wanted it to be kind of the heroic-sounding track on the album. For this record, I think we came in with a looser approach than the two previous.. Without a clear notion of what the sound “should” be. It could have been a disaster, but I quite like the end result!”.
We’re certain fans will too and we’re lucky enough to have the band over here in the UK touring the new LP in May. Fans are always appreciative of the opportunity to see you perform live but it can’t be easy getting a tour organised? (Chuck) “I think parts of touring are horrible. Airports, waiting, flying, waiting, long drives, waiting, shit food, waiting, no sleep, waiting…it can seem endless. But we’ve been blessed to work with amazingly supportive record labels…Shake It (U.S.) and Damnably (U.K.), some wonderful clubs and promoters, a couple of great and helpful drivers, a bunch of cool bands and a really sweet and enthusiastic group of fans. Plus we’ve gotten to play live on BBC6 with Marc Riley, CBS television in the US and KEXP in Seattle, among others. Thankfully all of that outweighs the bad stuff. Most of the time anyway…” (Lisa) “Our crowds have been wonderful, passionate and inspiring. Like Chuck said, tour can be difficult sometimes, but the fans are what keep us going. Jobs and budget constraints can make it challenging to tour extensively, but with the help of our labels, bookers, tour managers and promoters we are able to get out there! And maybe someday we’ll be able to hit a few more locations.”
Now Wussy fans old and new are wondering if we’ll be treated to the Wussy tour travelblog, where your pre-gig antics & discoveries of local pastimes and colloquial eccentricities were a main feature. Can we expect more of the same this time around? (Chuck) “Well, Mark does that, and while I can’t really speak for him, I’m guessing that he’ll probably continue it because; A. he’s good at it and people seem to enjoy it and B. it keeps him occupied and that’s ALWAYS a good thing. We all take pictures and videos to greater and lesser degrees, so I believe I can say the answer is “yes.”
(Photo Credit: Michael Wilson)
Yay, now, this weekend its the annual Record Store Day event. I had the pleasure of ‘discovering’ Wussy from your RSD2016 release of ‘Days & Hours’ on Damnably, another cinematic sounding single, the limited release featured on the flipside your cover of Joy Divisions ‘Ceremony’, I know I was blown away, as many were, by that cover and it became a fan favourite as the encore during the Forever Sounds tour. Not only do you have the upcoming release of ‘What Heaven is Like’ but you also have your ‘Getting Better’ RSD2018 release coming out on Damnably here in the UK too. How do you finalise which tracks you choose to cover and what can fans expect from this years Wussy RSD2018 release? (Chuck) As far as covers go, we just do songs we like and are easy enough to play. Too many chords…nope! To this day, “Ceremony” is probably the most accurate cover we’ve ever attempted. We usually mess them up a lot more. And track-wise, for the “Getting Better” E.P. we just used songs that had either been on fairly obscure compilations or one in particular (Getting Better) that didn’t end up being released until now. I’m not sure how some folks are gonna take to the Beatles cut. We pulled it apart some.” (Lisa) Our UK label Damnably helped suggest the tracks for “Getting Better”. We’d sort of forgotten about a few, since the compilations are so obscure. (I don’t think I have any of them!)”.
Wussy are set to return to these shores touring their new album, ‘What Heaven Is Like’ which is out on May 18th 2018 LP/CD/DL, via the homegrown Shake It (US) and very cool London label Damnably (UK/EU) and is available in a range of formats: Coloured vinyl, physical and digital editions and even some exclusive signed copies through label/band sites too. Having previously supported bands like Afghan Wigs, The Breeders and Mudhoney, as well as touring in their own right, Wussy are established performers who know how hold a stage, put on a show and rock a crowd. Hear them live in session with Marc Riley on BBC6 Music on the 24th May and catch them live in the UK at one of the dates below.