Wimps: Problematic Party Times and Pure Punk Power
“We’re always either not getting enough sleep, or I wish I could sleep,” exclaims Wimps guitarist Rachel Ratner. “So I ended up writing three songs about naps in a row!”
We’re sitting at the Tractor Tavern before they whip the night into a frenzy for a Red Bull Sound Select event co-powered with Sub Pop. Between “Slept In Late”, “Nap”, and “Repeat” — with its “eat, sleep, eat, sleep” anthem — we are definitely discussing music I can relate to.
Since 2011, Wimps have been spray-painting Seattle with punk rock sounds, their infectious tunes popping up like vivid tags everywhere you turn. The delirious diddies grab you by the eardrums, by people rattling stages all across Seattle. It’s no wonder they describe longing for slumber in their lyrics.
“They always say, ‘Write what you know,’ and we’re really busy and work a lot,” says Ratner. Bassist Matt Nyce nods at this, eyes wide.
“And I have sleep apnea,” adds drummer Dave Ramm. Finding time for true rest is scarce enough, and with that on top of it? Yowza.
Despite these sleeping problems, Wimps certainly show no weaknesses. Party At the Wrong Time, an utter flare gun of an EP, was released (on lemon-lime colored vinyl, hell yeah) on January 27th of this year by Help Yourself Records. After having worked with End of Time Records for their first full-length album, Repeat, I was curious about the label switchover.
Ratner explains, “It wasn’t so much a switch, but that End of Time had approached us for the full-length, and we were really happy with how that worked. Then we talked with the Help Yourself Records guys because we had known them for a while. Some of them are in a band called Ubu Roi, and they asked if they could put out a record of ours.”
“They’re nice people; we like them,” says Ramm.
“We like all the labels in town, and we’re excited to work with all of them, or whoever wants to work with us!” Ratner says exuberantly. “They just put out our 7’’ like a month ago, and they’ve been doing a lot of stuff locally. We beat them at basketball, that’s how we got our distribution rate!”
Negotiating record deals while shooting hoops — Wimps are doing it right.
As far as crafting their next LP goes, Nyce explains, “Right now we’re working on picking out like ten favorite songs over the next couple months, and then aiming to have the record out by early or late summer.”
Getting together to make such decisions just got a lot easier for the ever-busy band. Ramm states, “I just moved back from Portland a couple months ago, and I have a house near Seattle University, so we have a basement there we can play in.”
“For a year, he was going to school in Portland,” says Ratner, “so he was driving up like every other weekend, and it made practicing pretty hard. But we were very dedicated, and it worked out.”
“We all live within like ten blocks of each other now, so it’s very convenient,” Ramm agrees.
It may have been released in the dead of winter, but to me, Party At the Wrong Time seems like a perfect EP for summer as well: yelped lines about needing distractions and different pills, set atop riffs that make you want to ride your bike off the end of a dock.
The group takes off down a similar path when I ask how they’d recommend listening to the album straight through for the first time.
Nyce: “Hmm. On vinyl, drunk –”
Ratner: “On a motorcycle! They could put the record player in the sidecar!”
Nyce: “Hook it up to the motor. But since they’re drunk, it has to be on a closed course [laughs].”
Ratner issues a disclaimer: “Safely, on a closed course, with a helmet, on a motorcycle with a sidecar.”
Ramm: “I definitely like the idea of listening to it on vinyl. In a car would be cool, too.”
Nyce: “They used to have cars with record players in them — not a lot, though.”
Ratner: “I can’t imagine it would work very well.”
Nyce: “Well, you had to be a real big baller.”
It would be far from the first time I’ve devoured the EP, but if anyone out there can make the above scene happen — yeah. Please, please let me know.
Noting the mention of a closed course and helmet usage, I ask if there’s anything they’ve done the night of a show that’s not quite legal. The trio falls silent for a moment.
“What have we done illegally during shows?” Nyce muses, looking at his bandmates.
Ramm: “I just want to steal the Cokes and waters they have backstage. But I feel guilty about that.”
Ratner: “We have taken other bands’ backstage snacks before at our shows.”
Nyce: “I tend to go for it, yeah [laughs].”
Ratner: “We haven’t gotten to the point of getting our own snack tray, but other bands get Chex Mix, Party Mix, you know, a deli platter!”
“Oh shit!” Nyce suddenly exclaims. “I stole those shoes!”
The band bursts out laughing. “I was waiting for you to say something!” Ratner declares. “That’s why I looked at you!”
“We were at this show once,” Nyce describes, “and this one band was given like five pairs of Converse shoes. But they didn’t even really seem to appreciate them! Then we overheard them be like, ‘These are stupid,’ about one pair in particular, and they put them to the side.”
Ramm and Ratner nod vigorously. Who doesn’t appreciate Converse shoes? Especially free ones?!
“At the end of the night,” says Nyce, “I saw them there and was like, they’re wearing theirs — there are four people in the band, so there was one pair leftover — and I grabbed it and was like, ‘That’s my pair.”
Ratner: “And you’re wearing them today!”
Nyce: “So I got new kicks!” He lift his legs up and sure enough: black Converse beauts.
Honest to god, I love the fact that the first and most illegal thing that came to mind for these guys involved sneaking snacks and utilizing leftover shoes backstage.
I’m excited to catch up with them about their antics again down the road, because as far as goals go, Wimps are certainly not without.
“We want to play every venue in Seattle! We’ve gotten through a lot of them but there’s still many to go. We haven’t played the Tractor before, so we’re knocking this one off the list!” They’ve performed at the Neptune Theatre, Victory Lounge, and Chop Suey, among many others.
“We miss the Funhouse!” Ranter mourns.
Ramm nods, and begins naming new venues they hope to hit. “There’s the Showbox –”
Ratner: “Then the KeyArena –”
Ratner: “Showbox SoDo –”
“Top of the Space Needle,” Nyce deadpans, much to our laughter. We agree that will be the final Seattle culmination, with fireworks and all.
“And I’ll jump off,” Nyce grins.
With the way they proceeded to crank up the crowd into dancing that night at the Tractor, their stuff could probably shoot the Needle itself into space. For all the boring work bemoaned and hours of lost sleep lamented in Wimps’ lyrics, their music consistently proves itself fucking flawless at waking people up.
You’ve been warned about their epic, death-laced finale in the future, everyone. Go catch this band live before that happens.