When bands talk about creating worlds, it usually means maybe chucking a few things in the mix here and there with a social media campaign or decking the hell out of a big-time live show. When WOOZE say it, they truly mean business. After all, name another band right now who have their own interactive game, glossy cinematic music videos, sharp live persona and the type of songs in their back-pocket born to rip down any boundaries and barriers. Anything? Naah, didn’t think so.
Only forming as a band just over a year and a half ago, WOOZE have wasted no time in stamping their mark on things. “Before we’d even put our first single, we’d kinda written what we thought then was going to be our debut album,” explains Theo Spark, who along with Jamie She have morphed their collective thoughts into an unmistakable presence already. “We both quite strongly believe if you’re given a platform to release music, which is quite an honour, then you’ve got to make the most of it and get who you are as an artist across as otherwise it’s just a lot of chance, really.”
Meeting and first playing together at Brixton’s Muddy Yard (an art collective housed in a disused builder’s depot) the duo would do covers of each other’s songs and work together to get better at what they were doing, playing in bands such as Screaming Peaches before firmly nailing down who WOOZE were as a force. Blending the swooning harmonies of the 60s in The Beatles and The Kinks’ hooks with no-nonsense electro-clash and ripping punk velocity, along with influences artistically that combine Korean and British culture – it’s the sound of genres, eras and lives meeting into a band unlike any other.
“We’re big fans of people who can create pop out of a very un-poppy template,” explains Theo, “that manage to elicit a big reaction from crowds out of things that really shouldn’t. Like, we’re big fans of Primus and Gary Numan… that first Wild Beasts record was another big one for us. I remember the first time I listened to them, and I almost found it offensive. Like, who the fuck are these guys? So challenging but they became one of our favourite bands.”
With ‘Hello Can You Go’, ‘Party Without Ya’ and ‘Ladies Who Lunch With Me’ setting the charge and turning heads from the get-go over the past 12 months, WOOZE’s next chapter comes with debut EP ‘what’s on your mind?’. It’s a body of work that gives a new platform for the band to express a creative vision that jumps out of everything they do.
Their music videos already have featured their own version of Jumanji, a terrifying night at karaoke and now, with the EP’s lead track ‘I’ll Have What She’s Having’, a haunting supernatural night at a local bar (visualising WOOZE’s most infectious number to date). Doing things on a grand scale has WOOZE’s fingerprints all over it, and that ambition is almost stunning in its size.
“When we’re ready, we want to expand what we do live,” continues Theo. “Expand it so it is more theatrical and overall is a much bigger show. All of our first shows were at our own parties, so the crowd were mostly our friends, and we could play a whole bunch of stuff to test things out really. The next show we did was with other friends in our collective, and then the one after was Scala with ball boys as backing dancers.”
As their ambition grows, so does their sound. Across ‘what’s on your mind?’, WOOZE are amplified to their very best – scorching through in a manner that just leaves you wanting more. ‘Cousin Paul From Paddington’ is a swinging strut of a track that practically demands you follow it all the way to its destination, while ‘Zeus’ Masseuse’ roars into an almost barking crescendo still wrapped in the sort of harmonies that have you entranced.
“It feels bloody good to have something out,” cracks Theo. “To have an overarching theme in our work which you can’t do with singles. All of our songs are intertwined thematically and dealing with the same thing, which is good. It’s a good precursor to when we release the album.”
There’s an outsider’s edge to every note and stride they throw, even when stepping on stage – Theo and Jamie joined by two masked figures in yellow anoraks – clicking go before unleashing blistering sets each and every time.
Reshaping sounds and what it means to be a band here and now in 2019, WOOZE have the potential to do whatever they want. “We’re always trying to realise the most ambitious thing possible,” lays out Theo, painting the road for where WOOZE can go from here. “Our philosophy is keeping our expectations very low but our ambitions very high – always staying humble, you know?”
WOOZE are the band you don’t only need to hear, but see and experience too.
Taken from the May issue of Dork. WOOZE’s debut EP ‘what’s on your mind?’ is out 3rd May.
Words: Jamie Muir