Wargasm: Thank you for the Venom

Discover the electrifying journey of WARGASM, as they break boundaries, challenge conventions, and unleash their visceral and honest debut album ‘Venom’. Read our latest Hype playlist cover feature now.

Words: Ali Shutler.



Wargasm’s debut album ‘Venom’ shudders with angst at every gnarled turn and ferocious twist. “But that’s what a first album should be,” says Sam Matlock. “It should be a ‘fuck you’.”

Since they dropped ‘Post Modern Rhapsody’ in 2019, Wargasm haven’t been shy about saying whatever’s on their mind. Wanting to achieve the primal excitement that comes from playing alt-rock classics at a house party at 3am, the band released a string of snotty, nu-metal-infused tracks before going on a virtual tour with Yungblud. Their first ever headline show was a socially-distanced seated affair at London’s New Cross Inn, and by the time they were properly unleashed onto the world at the Download Pilot 2021, they had an arsenal of tracks made for huge stages.

“A lot of people called us industry plants, which we’re obviously not going to entertain,” Sam says. “Wargasm is literally just me and Milkie hanging out, having some drinks and writing some songs. We got asked to play some gigs, which we enjoyed, and after that, we knew we needed to write more songs to play more gigs. I’ve never been part of something that has evolved so naturally.”

“It’s also the least industry-friendly, least easily palatable band imaginable,” adds Milkie Way, with the band’s more radio-friendly hits mashing together metal, punk and dance under titles like ‘D.R.I.L.D.O.’, ‘Fukstar’ and ‘Backyard Bastards’. “We’ve seen it with The Last Dinner Party and Scowl as well; I don’t know why people assume bands with women can’t find success,” she continues. “Anyone who’s accusing bands of being industry plants is a miserable fucking cunt,” adds Sam.

In the years that followed, Wargasm toured with Limp Bizkit and Enter Shikari, as well as putting in main stage appearances at Slam Dunk, Bloodstock, Download and Reading & Leeds. They’ve just finished up a tour supporting Slipknot’s Corey Taylor across North America, and before their own UK headline tour, the pair will be opening for Babymetal across Europe. “It doesn’t matter if we’re the poppiest band on the bill or the heaviest. At this point, you get what you fucking get,” grins Sam. “We’re pretty comfortable being Wargasm right now.”

A big part of that confidence comes from ‘Venom’, the pair’s long-awaited debut album. “It’s an opportunity to show people what we’re made of,” says Milkie. “It’s more cohesive than what’s come before. It’s more together and mature. It knows what it is,” she continues.

Still, a week before ‘Venom’’s release, Sam is wrestling with imposter’s syndrome. “I can categorically say it’s the best thing Wargasm has ever done, and I think it’ll be one of the most refreshing things anyone in the alternative community has heard in a few years. I’d be surprised if anyone delivers something as visceral, as honest anytime soon,” he says, “but is it good enough?”

“I haven’t had that,” says Milkie, who’s been regularly playing it every week since it was finished. “I don’t feel any pressure beyond my own expectations.” Elsewhere, Sam regularly finds himself getting annoyed at the comments section, while Milkie avoids it altogether. “I don’t have the will nor want to hear other people’s opinions about my art, my face, my body or anything I do. You can’t please everyone, so I stopped listening.”

“You have more strength than me. I have a need for validation and attention,” grins Sam. It’s that duality that gives Wargasm the fizzing electricity that can be heard across ‘Venom’.

“Anyone who’s accusing bands of being industry plants is a miserable fucking cunt”


SAM MATLOCK

“Maybe at the start, we were swinging a baseball bat in a small room,” says Sam, while their 2022 ‘Explicit’ mixtape had the energy of them wielding “a big, blunt sword”. With ‘Venom’ though, “it’s a precision instrument,” he explains. “It’s not that things have changed; we’ve just found the bits of Wargasm that we liked and pushed them further. If something felt good, we did more of it.”

The pair have always had a guttural reaction to guitar music. Milkie was raised on Motown, soul and pop, with David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, and The Temptations being early favourites, before she discovered Smashing Pumpkins and Bikini Kill. “When I heard women playing slightly out-of-tune guitars and screaming into a microphone, it just did something for me,” she explains. For Sam, it was Nirvana that essentially changed his life. Now, they want ‘Venom’ to do the same for others.  

“People always ask us, ‘What does Wargasm stand for?’ For a while, we tried to come up with something, but I think we’re beginning to understand that Wargasm is just a very human experience,” says Sam. “It’s not trying to stand for anything beyond letting people be people. If you want to say something you feel is important, say it. If you want to just have a laugh, go for it.”

Playing live has helped shift Wargasm’s ambitions. When they released their debut single, their only goal was to release more while not being able to conventionally tour due to the pandemic reshaped the energy of those early tracks. “When you’re playing live, you’re absorbing this wall of energy that’s coming towards you. At a house party, it’s all around you,” says Sam. “Maybe this album is for house parties and arenas,” he continues. “I don’t want a riff that makes me want to do a shot; I want a riff that makes me want to fist pump and run into a circle pit.”

Before returning to the UK, Wargasm will head to a rented house with a studio to continue working on new ideas. In an ideal world, they’d get started with album two immediately, but a brutal touring schedule has put a stop to that. “We’re going to be playing the album in full on the headline run, and I think that will help us understand where we go next,” says Sam, who’s always chasing a certain high with Wargasm. “I still just get drunk and excited about music. I still want to make The Prodigy’s version of the Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’. I don’t know what that means exactly, but I see no reason to not try because it would bring us immense joy.” 

“There’s an infinite amount of course material to rip off and make your own, so we’ll keep going,” adds Milkie with a smirk.

There are a handful of politically-charged verses where the band spit blood and fire, but ‘Venom’ isn’t your typical political punk album. Less concerned with taking a stand, it’s more about capturing an energy. “It does feel like we’re born into a generation teetering on the edge of something not so good. It feels like something bad is going to happen,” explains Sam, which feeds into the record’s sense of “fuck you, rebellion, feeling betrayed and us versus them.”

Then there’s tracks like ‘Death Rattle’, which see the band toying with narrative and storytelling rather than a gut reaction to the absolute state of things. “Still, fuck buddies in the apocalypse does still feel relevant,” Sam continues. “Even the fictional scenarios are based on a real-life terror that doesn’t feel too far away.”

“It’s not just pure anger, there’s contempt, there’s self-deprecation, and there’s humour as well,” says Milkie. “But people share the rage. It was cathartic writing these songs; it’s just as cathartic listening back to them.”

“A lot of it has to do with timing,” says Sam of Wargasm’s success. “Every now and again, society links up with the same feeling of lack. If you can speak to that with your music, whether it be through escapism, romanticism, speaking out against it or just being pissed off, it’ll connect with people, as long as you’re being honest.” ■

Wargasm’s album ‘Venom’ is out 27th October. Follow Dork’s Hype Spotify playlist here.