There’s something about Warpaint’s double music video for “Disco//Very” and “Keep it Healthy” that rings of the 1996 alt-witch flick The Craft. Perhaps it’s four badasses walking towards the camera, or Theresa Wayman’s and Emily Kokal’s ode to ’90s fashion wearing a plaid mini skirt over jeans and a Chicago Bulls T-shirt respectively.
And then there’s the double-time slow-motion effect, wind ruffling through their long locks as they spout the hazy rhythmic chant “We’ll rip you up and tear you in two/ Don’t you battle, we’ll kill you.”
“Wind always makes women look witchy,” Emily Kokal tells EW, with a laugh, over the phone. “We are pretty trippy ladies.” But that’s as far as we’ll take the witch comparisons, by now a tired trope for powerful female figures and an overused cliché the media has used to describe the thriving foursome whose atmospheric anti-pop sound is difficult to classify.
But trippy — yes, trippy is apt. “Disco//Very” and “Keep it Healthy” are from Warpaint’s self-titled second album released earlier this year, a sprawling synth- and guitar-laden soundscape with wispy vocals reined in by Aussie Stella Mozgawa’s drumming and Jenny Lee Lindberg’s bass.
“Creating space,” Kokal says, was a “goal of the album.” That’s where producer Flood, renowned for his work with U2, PJ Harvey and Depeche Mode, came in. “He was instrumental in creating that open spacious sound,” Kokal adds, while noting, “We had never worked with an official big-time producer. We were really calling the shots and dictating things. The idea of working with a producer was kind of intimidating.”
Kokal says the band, which turned 10 this year, was leery of sounding too produced, too polished and too distant from their first studio album, 2010’s The Fool. But Flood soon quieted their fears. “He said it was refreshing that we didn’t play verse chorus verse. He wasn’t trying to clean us up,” she says.
Warpaint is in the middle of a massive tour for the new album, crisscrossing the globe from Luxembourg to New Orleans with stops in Portland this past May and Happy Valley, Oregon, for Pickathon. Half of the band, Kokal and Wayman, are native Eugeneans, so why no stop in Eugene?
“I swear every time we play in Eugene it’s the smallest crowd,” Kokal says. “We can’t pay people to come to our shows. I don’t know why,” she says, adding, “I don’t really feel like we’re a hometown band.”
For a band that has received rave reviews from Rolling Stone and The Guardian, Eugene, it’s time to start showing some hometown pride.
Warpaint plays before Nickel Creek 7:20 pm Saturday, Aug. 2, at Pickathon’s Mountain View Stage, Happy Valley; prices vary.