The Oxford Dictionary defines Warmduscher as a bunch of guys in a band who make the kind of music that you wanna fuck to, as well as fuck it all off. Or if we’re going to be correct, it’s a German slang word for a wimp (a warm shower-taker). One thing’s for sure; Warmduscher are anything but.
The band, born out of the depths of London with a voice from the United States, penetrate your ears with every sound and rapid-fire lyric they can. Casting a shadow across every genre in their wake, the leader of this rock and roll nightmare is Clams Baker and he’s not what you’d first expect.
When fronting a South London band drenched in a punk ethos and already rendered a danger by many, there’s a certain image one conjures. The band is frenetic and contiguously creative, Baker himself, after being asked to describe them in one sentence, said “a good time gone viral” – and we couldn’t have put it better ourselves. However, Clams is both every part of that rock and roll image and every shadow that it isn’t.
Having recently released their new album Whale City and with a new tour on the way, Clams has a busy schedule but after speaking with him – this is the role he was always desperate to play. I still wondered though, what is it like being the lead singer for a band like Warmduscher? “It’s all kinds of things! I love it as everyone I play with are so good so it makes it super easy for me to get excited and react to them,” Clams tells me breaking into a smile that I’m not yet sure I can trust. “Lightnin’ Jack and I really vibe on each other’s ideas and share that same warped view on life, and we all bring something together to make it what it is,” he continued.
“I love it as I’m also not the focus, it’s the band as a group that is a focus which makes things very exciting for me. Its been a wonderful ride,” Clams added with a sudden drop of sincerity. It was, at that moment, I realised that Warmduscher is not the somewhat bizarre ramblings of a man intent on destruction, it’s a band united on that intent.
Photo Credit: Andreia Lemos
The band is somewhat known for being a Power Rangers type super-band, built from the strong arms of many a great band such as Childhood, Fat White Family and more it seemed that this might constrain the creative process, something Clams quickly put to bed: “The writing and recording is the easy part, it all comes quick, it’s all the other stuff around it that can be constraining but its all good and we have a good work ethic so it manages to make sense somehow.”
Perhaps there was something more liberating about the project we were missing? “It’s all definitely liberating, we get to express ourselves pretty much exactly how we want to, and that seems to work for us but I can’t really speak on other people. I believe if you aren’t making stuff you want to listen to yourself then you are probably in trouble, as 85% of the time you will probably be the only one listening!”
While that’s all good and well in theory, the idea of trying to keep everyone on the same musical path— especially in a band like Warmduscher—seemed more hard work than it’s worth: “I’m definitely not in the business of trying to keep anyone on any path,” Clams interjected before adding “I’m way too old for that.
“I think its great to keep an open mind and just like what you like really and not underestimate people. People tend to get a bad rap in terms of being sheep herded. There are a lot of people out there making things happen, the same way I would have as a kid only the way they do it is different. If they like it, they find it. I’d just like to figure out how to get it further out there without having to do a publicity stunt like flying a hot air balloon into a something.”
For a man from the US, Clams looks remarkably at home in South London, an area which has seemed a bit of cultural hotbed of late producing a huge amount of new bands. Not trying to romanticize the idea that, in a city of eight million, musical creatives all arrived in the South, Clams had a simpler opinion: “I’m not sure, to be honest,” he said about why his choice of a home has attracted new bands. “It’s just where we all live really. “I think its great that it linked on with the Fat White Family and The Windmill paving the way, but I don’t feel any spiritual connection to it other than it’s where everyone I know is from.”
“I’d say it’s great for the youth to claim it because when everyone is talking about it and you’re a bunch of kids from South London it probably encourages you to start a band,” he added. “That’s a great thing. I come from the states though so I only saw it as a place I had to begrudgingly leave New York City for but it’s all good now.”
It’s a trip that Clams did eventually make but not before flirting with a few other professions, such is the general tale for a budding musician with eyes only for the stage: “I’m from a small town so being in a band wasn’t really an option unless you wanted to be a weekend cover band, if you get me? Anyhow, I knew I wanted to leave where I lived so when I was 18 or 19 I made a conscious decision about what I wanted to do with my life and what I actually loved and that was music or writing.
“I sent in some writing to these poetry magazines or something, God I wish I still had them, and they were all denied and rightfully so. Anyhow, I decided I loved writing too much to make a job out of it and I wasn’t going to be in a band so I decided I wanted to be a producer and work in the music industry,” he added. Clams had an open and unhindered way of talking, a method of discourse that painted a picture perfectly. Reading his words now it’s easy to picture him scribbling over his notebook, scrawling out the words in his mind and formulating it into poetry.
“I left for Seattle and went to a kind of vocational school for music business (yes a con), left there and went to NYC and started working in the mailroom for a record label and worked my way up to head of sales and then discovered I didn’t want to work in the music industry.
“The band stuff happened totally unexpectedly. I think I must have had some kind of breakdown.”
But what did Lil’ Clams want to be when he grew up? “Man, you know whats crazy? When I was in my room as a kid I always pretended to be a singer in a band, specifically Billy Idol for some reason. I was obsessed with him but I was told in chorus my voice was bad so I never thought much about it and started playing the guitar.” With that, he went on to create some incendiary rock and roll. Such is the never-ending creative mind of the Warmduscher frontman, Clams isn’t content on what he has. “My only other goal before I shit the bed is to make a movie, a full movie,” he says with sincerity.
Make no mistake about it, the sound that Warmduscher make is undoubtedly incendiary rock and roll. Their new album Whale City far surpasses their previous work Khaki Tears, it is still as touch light flammable as the last record but where Khaki Tears was full of knuckled grit and a side-smile, this album is a full-on blow to the nose while they laugh at the blood.
But Warmduscher isn’t a band who often receive wide praise for their work. Like any great art, it is always riding an edge of acceptance. Whale City, though, offers something different and in turn, the critics are warming to the band. It interested me to consider how did it feel for a band like Warmdsucher to get some love: “I don’t really feel the critical acclaim part which is probably good because the anger and affirmation issues make me want to keep going even more,” Clams said.
“You know that big table where all the boys and girls sit at speaking that alien reptile language and making moves to shape the future of the ones that don’t deserve it? We never get a seat at that damn table but I’m learning how to speak reptile so anything is possible!”
With the album out and the live set on point, there is only one thing left to do: The ‘Vina Soul’ tour is due in the latter part of the year, but is being ‘on tour’ all it’s cracked up to be? You only need to see Warmduscher live once to know how wild things can get. “Being on tour is one of those things that you definitely love and hate,” Clams said. “When you are on it you want to go home and when you are home you want to be on it. It is not easy being around the same people 24 hours a day in a van or on a plane, but it still beats lugging bricks or painting walls.
“I’d say the biggest misconception with touring is that it’s debaucherous, it’s really not. Well maybe two days out of a week are, the rest are filled with guilt or promises of being professional. The disco world is a whole different ball game though!”
As the band continue to challenge the scopes of music and society I had them pegged as an outfit heavily focused political issues – I was quickly put in my place when I even suggested the idea: “I actually don’t think we are political and don’t try to be. We all have views on things and we all speak our minds, politics just happen to be one of them but to say we are activists would be a lie.”
That said, I wasn’t too far from the mark as the band were behind the Bernie Sanders activity book which did the rounds in support of the Senator before the Wotsit Hitler got in: “I was really involved in the Bernie Sanders campaign but that’s just because I really believed in him and what he had to say” Clams said, offering also that “Lightnin’ has been involved in the Free Palestine movement I know and has done stuff for them as have The Witherer and I, I’m not sure about Salt Fingers or Quicksand to be honest, but I know they are all good people who want good things to happen. But to say we are a political band would be a lie.
“None of our songs are about politics, they are about people but not parties or movements. Fuck Trump.”
Was there something a little dirty about bands jumping in on the political bandwagon though? Weren’t they just in it for the Kudos? “I think if the politics are good, then it can’t be a bad thing, and even if they change the minds of a few people, it’s a good bandwagon to ride on.”
My time with Clams was coming to an end, by this point, our ramblings had moved inexplicably toward the recent Royal Wedding and the conversation resulted in Clams suggestion that Warmduscher track ‘1000 Whispers’ should have been used for the first dance.
Warmduscher is billed as “fractured rock and roll” and “sleaziest, debauched, filthy” and more. Truth is, there’s so much more to this band than just that. Clams Baker has strived for this moment, he’s done his time in the shitty jobs that nobody wants, he’s pushed himself into creative areas that proved unfruitful and he’s come out the other side wondering what happened.
Scratch beneath the surface of Warmduscher, take a warm shower and wash off all that dirt from the night before and you’ll find the sincerity of a bunch of musicians doing what they’ve always wanted, making music and performing their art.
Before we get too deep, I knew I needed to end our conversation with something a little lighthearted. I put Clams into the movies like he’s striving for:
Scene: Reservoir Dogs, you’re Mr Blonde with the razor blade about to cut a cop’s ear off, you walk slowly to the stereo and put on one tune – what is it?
Without thought, without hesitation, like he’s been waiting for this moment, he answered:
“Delicious by Jim Backus and Friends.”