"I am the new macho bullshit," says Milkie Way, a gnome-sized dickless dick-swinger who seems to have more nuts than Fred Durst at a cashew factory. She's speaking to Revolver on a Zoom chat from her mother's home in middle-of-nowhere Ireland, alongside bandmate Sam Matlock, who resembles the more well-trodden motifs of "macho bullshit" — slicked back, orange-yellow bleached hair; white vest; tough guy stare; dirty cockney accent. "But put us alongside one another and you can tell who actually has the balls in this act," he says, gesturing towards his dainty bandmate who is swigging on shitty beer and rearranging her blond pixie-cut.
Together, they are Wargasm — the up-and-coming, London-based duo who are on their way to becoming the salted caramel of rock music. By which we mean, they're a mixture of seemingly conflicting, contradictory ingredients that actually works. You've got a man with tons of industry and band experience, and a woman with almost none. Then there's their beefcake nu-metal sound, which they spike with more lighthearted pop and electronic elements, as well as with a riot grrrl ethos and charge. Perhaps most appealing of all is how Wargasm combine a DIY, bottom-up modus operandi with a top-down know-how. But when it comes to their energies, there's no conflict. "You know how Axl Rose and Slash worked together because they were like fire and ice?" Matlock says. "Well, we're more like ..." "Fire and fire," the bandmates say together, as though they've rehearsed the line.
Wargasm are a full-bodied product who've not only spent the last year and a half meticulously developing their sound, but their visuals and brand output, too. Since the end of 2019, they've released several spectacularly riffy singles, including a ferocious cover of N.E.R.D's "Lapdance," which they've accompanied with a post-apocalyptic PlayStation 1 game aesthetic. They know exactly what they're doing and how they want to be perceived by the world. But more than that, Wargasm exist to inject some fun back into a fairly self-serious market.
That enterprise began at 3 a.m. at a party in London, filled with models and the sound of overly trendy music that didn't seem to move any of the partygoers. Way, a former model had invited Matlock, who she met at a gig some months before. As the party came to a lull, Matlock decided to experiment. Snatching the aux cord, he played Limp Bizkit, followed by some Linkin Park. "Everyone stopped taking themselves so seriously, started screaming the words, and actually began to have some fun," he says. "We very quickly realized after that night that that was what was missing from rock music."
Growing up on the Isle of Wight with a music publicist as a mother, Matlock was quite literally born with a sense of industry savvy. Way, in contrast, grew up "kinda the complete opposite," she admits. She "didn't have the confidence to be in bands," and when she expressed an interest in playing music herself, an ex-boyfriend shot her down. "Then I thought, fuck that, and I started learning and playing bass when I was 14 or 15." But unlike Matlock, who's been in a "fuckload of bands" — most recently, the hard-rock outfit Dead! — Wargasm is Way's first original project.
It's been three and a half years since she moved from rural Ireland to London (the equivalent of leaving Kansas for New York City), and all the paths she's encountered since have led to Wargasm. Devoid of contacts yet determined to enmesh herself within the Capital city's music scene, Way began taking photos of bands at shows, as part of a blogging project she named "Girl in the Pit." She shot Dead! several times, and when they disbanded, Matlock immediately slid into her Instagram DMs. "For the love of fuck, please tell me you play an instrument," he sent. They got drunk, chatted shit and the rest is history.
"Drinking isn't a key component of it, but it certainly helps," says Matlock. Over almost a year's worth of beer cans, they slowly set the blueprint for what Wargasm would be. "We spent a year before we launched getting to know each other and making sure we had everything in place — thinking about how we'd want to present it visually as well as sonically."
Some might scoff at a band taking the visual aspect of their art so seriously, but Way, who's modelled alongside the likes of Cara Delevingne, understands the importance of looking good. "Or rather looking interesting," she says. "The thing I always told myself is, you know what, you look different, but let's just fake it till you make it. If you tell yourself something for long enough, your brain's just gonna believe it. It wasn't until I started believing I was the shit that I started getting creative and believing the creative things that were coming out of my head. It all goes hand in hand."
Together, they have an acute understanding of fashion, aesthetics and how to sell yourself to a corporate crowd up top, if absolutely necessary, "but we've mixed that with the chaos and naiveté and energy that you get from the bottom," says Matlock.
Sadly, despite that irresistible combination, Wargasm's perfect package has been put on pause. "We flew back to my house in Ireland as soon as shit began to hit the fan," says Way. Since lockdown began, they've had to trade in dream festival sets, like their much anticipated one at Download, for livestreams. "The circuit we had lined up was everything I've ever wanted on a professional level," says Matlock, "so to have all of that taken away has been a bit of a blow."
But in the years to come, Wargasm's riot grrrl-meet-nu-metal sound will provide a perfect time capsule of this moment in time. "When people are pissed off and frustrated, rainforests are burning, global warming's going on and no one's listening to the kids — I think something simple and fun like us will feel cathartic," says Matlock. "When we're able to gig again, it's all going to be ours."