VOWWS isn’t a band that allows for a definitive genre: the tracks are industrial and synth-filled, yet with eerie undertones that make the mood foreboding enough to rival the catchier elements. The self-proclaimed “industrial pop” duo, made up of Australia-to-LA transplants Matt and Rizz, release their second full-length, Under the World, next week on their own Anti-Language Records label. Like its predecessor, The Great Sun, the upcoming album is a strange concoction that explores everything from dark new wave to dreamy synthpop. At times, the sonic atmosphere is one reminiscent of Area 51 and at others a dark nightclub filled with neon. Everything VOWWS touches has a signature, from their music to their band photos, but nothing is one-note. Watch the band’s mini-doc from the making of Under the World and read an interview with Rizz below:
The first time I heard VOWWS a few years ago I immediately thought of Portishead having a weird musical baby with Killing Joke and Spinnerette. Who were some artists who originally shaped your musical tastes?
Rizz: That sounds like one cool musical baby! I usually answer this based on when we started playing and writing music. ‘Cos of course your whole life you are influenced by things often out of your control like whatever your family had on the radio or what was on TV or in the supermarket. This was all pre-internet. But I do remember early on getting consumed by things I would hear and go to great lengths to try and capture or re-create them. We had a mini boom box and if you held down the record and play buttons at the same time you could record sound. So I’d hold it up to the TV to try and record theme songs to movies that I liked or jingles from ads, ‘cos you couldn’t just Shazam that shit… there was no Spotify or Napster or any of that shit. Fuck. I haven’t really answered the question, ok.
Matt: Sepultura, Dead Kennedys.
Rizz: The Theme from Scarface (Original Score).
You’re from Australia, based in LA and recorded in New York. Do you find that different locations affect your music at all?
Rizz: Dude, everything effects us and in turn affects our music. I had super weird dreams last night, that will definitely affect whatever it is I’m doing today. I do this weird thing sometimes where first thing in the morning I’ll watch a really heavy movie, either something just super intense like 21 grams, or Drugstore Cowboy or something really significant to my early childhood. It puts me in a weird reflective mood all day, all my emotions are fucked and I’m not really present… which I like.
Rizz: A giant barn in upstate New York with Frankenstein-ed musical equipment. That’s where we give the songs sound. But we write on acoustic guitar mainly. Even if we changed up our sound, it’s the writing that’s our signature thing.
Having been a few years since The Great Sun, did you do into recording this with a solid plan or did it come together as you went?
Rizz: We’re kinda control freaks, we usually have a pretty solid idea of what we want before we enter the studio. Everything is written and ready to go, but of course the process of recording presents you with options so you can kind of push it in different directions as you go depending on what’s sounding the coolest.
How do the visuals of this band relate to the emotions/aesthetic of your music?
Rizz: It’s directly related, we’re a two person team all the way. Everything you see and hear is created with our own bare fingers. The only time we’ve worked with anyone is for the packaging of this album actually. His name is Jesse Draxler and he’s a 3,000 year old wizard. He’s given me a lot of wisdom and great art.
What did you find the most inspiration in for the new record?
Rizz: It’s hard to put into words. We don’t really conceptualize or reference when we write. We do our best work when we’re not thinking about anything in particular.
You’re releasing Under the World on your own label. Did that allow you more control of the vision as a whole for the album?
Rizz: Whether we’re on a label or self-releasing we don’t think about any of that shit when we’re actually making the stuff. Fuck no, it’s poisonous. But as far as releasing it, it’s been great ‘cos we basically do whatever we want and don’t have to wait for emails or ask anyone’s approval. And no fucking shitty publishing deals – we own everything. It makes it harder ‘cos you’re on your own and don’t have that ready made scene support to slide into. We don’t really like scenes, we get cagey, we’re drifters.
You had a few guest appearances, namely Gary Numan, on The Great Sun. Any surprises on this record?
Rizz: Oh fuck, yes there is. Not for the initial pressing but… I can’t say anything else. But you’re gonna die.
Lastly, as fans of soundtracks of horror movies, if you were commissioned to score any film what would it be?
Rizz: It would be super fun to score any film, as long as it was a good film. Maybe a damp, depressing, low-budget indie movie. Something fucken’ moody.
VOWWS heads out on a US tour next month. See the full list of stops:
3.19 – 529 – Atlanta, GA
3.20 – Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
3.22 – Saint Vitus – Brooklyn, NY
3.23 – Meatlocker – Montclair, NJ
3.24 – Geno’s – Portland, ME
3.25 – Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA
3.26 – Cafe Nine – New Haven, CT
3.27 – O’Brien’s – Boston, MA
3.28 – Casa Del Popolo – Montreal
3.29 – Coalition – Toronto
3.30 – Now That’s Class – Cleveland, OH *
3.31 – Deluxx Fluxx – Detroit, MI *
4.1 – Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL *
4.3 – Reverb Lounge – Omaha, NE *
4.4 – Hi Dive – Denver, CO *
4.5 – Metro Music Hall – Salt Lake City, UT *
4.6 – Neurolux – Boise, ID *
4.7 – Barboza – Seattle, WA *
4.8 – Tonic Lounge – Portland, OR *
4.10 – Old Nick’s – Eugene, OR *
* w/ Soft Kill and Choir Boy