I was so impressed by Watery Love's latest single, I invited members Richie Charles and Max Milgram to my cottage where I promptly removed my pants and interviewed them.
When word came up from Philly back in ‘09 about the hair-brained makings of some super group with members of Clockcleaner, Home Blitz, and Espers calling themselves Watery Love, you bet your sweet fudgemaker I was intrigued. They came out of the gate hard with a three song 7” that got the losers slavering but only got me semi–thick. Then, on one of my Yards Brawler runs down to the city of brotherly love, I caught a live set by the unit and drunkenly declared them the ultimate party band for the true blue anti-social misfit. Their latest 7” on the Siltbreeze label (Die With Dignity b/w Leave Me Alone) brings the roar they produce from the tiny stage right down onto the shiny vinyl. It shows the band not only hitting their stride in bad vibes but showcases their unique understanding of the monotonous riffage that links Breakdown, The Brainbombs, Raven, and Sweet Sister Ray.
I was so impressed by this single (as well as the sneak listens I got of their upcoming Two Kicks EP on the Negative Guest List label) that I decided to invite Watery Love members Richie Charles and Max Milgram over to my cottage where I promptly removed my pants and interviewed them.
VICE: It seems things have really started to pick up steam with Watery Love as far as shows, records, and general musicality goes. Is this a conscious effort or am I just making things up in my head again?
Max Milgram (guitar): Mildly astute observation, so no need for a head shrink. We finally recorded two singles after a few years of inactivity, so now we have something to offer the world. We might as well let them see us in our most unnatural habitat: the stage. While we're certainly nowhere near a fully-functioning unit, when someone asks us to play a show now we actually consider it as opposed to immediately saying no.
Richie Charles (vocals/guitar): Yeah, I suppose we get together with guitars with a little more frequency lately. We finally recorded a few more tunes and let people press them into records. Seems fitting to celebrate with a few live gigs. Max even went so far as to get his guitar strung correctly and buy an amp of his very own. We’ve also learned that some bars give away free beer to performers.
Although you do seem to be playing more gigs, they are all in Philadelphia. What would it take for you guys to play an out-of-town show?
Playing a gig is an enormous pain in the ass. We try to perform exclusively north of Girard Avenue, within walking distance of our home. Except for our bass player, Dan, who finds joy in driving two hours to pluck two notes with us. That’s enough of a hassle. Of course, everything has its price. Even Watery Love. So anybody out there is welcome to make any type of offer.
M.M: The one time we attempted an out-of-town gig was truly a dismal failure. The friends who drove us ended up getting their car towed in a crappy college town, and then wandering the snowy streets carrying our gear for hours in a desultory fashion. And it was a shitty time even before that! So we would probably need the assurance of a bunch of money and a designated driver.
R.C.: At the end of the day, we’re less a "Get in the Van" type of band and more a "Drink at the Bar" kind of band.
The lyrics to the track Die With Dignity on your latest 7" on the Siltbreeze label intrigue me. What’s the story behind them?
M.M: Richie would have the only definitive answer to this, as they are his insightful words gracing your eardrums, but my interpretation is about however terrible your stupid shit life surely is, at least you have the option of ending it with a tiny amount of grace. You've lived a life of inconsequence and your fucking family is a worthless joke. So yes, suicide is a very valid way to spare the rest of the world from suffering your unbearable presence, and we'd appreciate if you did it with a degree of nobility. Musically, the song was written by enthusiastically singing the riff in the car on the way to a party at Dan's parent's house.
R.C: Yeah, Max bounced around in the backseat of Meg’s car one afternoon and hummed what was to become a guitar riff. He also went on and on and on about some hair-brained philosophy concerning dignified death. It fell on my shoulders to make some sense out of the silly topic and use the rock stage as Max’s soapbox. Anyway, I wanted to use the title "Absorb Punishment," but the others thought it was too stupid.
According to my notes, Watery Love has so far covered songs by Fear, Lou Reed, and The Cramps. Am I missing any? How do you guys choose what songs you will cover?
We typically choose covers with an ear to what we can handle. I’m kind of a lousy guitar player, so I insist on playing songs that camouflage my lack of skill. In addition to the tunes you mentioned and an Overt Hostility cover, we’ve done "Bite It, You Scum" by GG Allin, "Every Day There’s Someone New," by Red Cross, and "Kill from the Heart," by The Dicks. Also, a few weeks ago we did "Heroin."
M.M: I'd like to think "Heroin" was the most impressive, as we played without distortion and used it as the focal point of the set instead of just the obligatory set-padder.
It has come to the point in the interview where I would like you to talk at length about the Cleveland Hardcore band One Life Crew and their merits as well as their influences on Watery Love
M.M: There are two very direct connections between One Life Crew and Watery Love. First, on our first 7", we covered a great unknown punk song called "Third World Minds" by Overt Hostility, which is a line taken from OLC's groundbreaking essay on who they mistakenly blamed for the Oklahoma City bombings. More critical to the history of the band, Richie and I first met in the mid-90s when we were introduced by a mutual friend because we both like OLC. It was apparently a rare occurrence to find one, let alone two people who admitted to enjoying the incendiary antics of OLC back then. So the band wouldn't exist if it were not for that faithful meeting, something Richie talks about incessantly even though I have no personal recollection of the event. More philosophically, I admire OLC's constant mosh onslaught and neverending use of violence to solve any and all problems. That record is second only to In Contrast of Sin in my theoretical top Clevo hardcore list. I've barely heard the second record but I know there are a lot of skits, including one about cops claiming "These crullers are amazing."
R.C: Yeah, we originally met at a Rain On the Parade gig. They were an act famous for taking a stand against the intrusion of heavy metal into hardcore. A mutual friend, who is now an apprentice at an old-timey barber shop, introduced us because we were the only OLC fans he knew. OLC dubbed themselves The Violent Few years later. I was more than a little frightened when I first set foot in Cleveland. After all, those guys don’t dance, they just fight.
The whole One Life Crew thing happened a little while after I stopped hanging out at hardcore shows, but I do have a memory of their singer, Mean Steve, trying to pick a fight with an acquaintance of mine at a show being held at Middlesex County College in New Jersey in the early 90s when he came down as a roadie for Integrity. He had heard my friend made fun of his previous band, Confront, sometime in the late 80s. When this kid calmly asked Steve why he wanted to fight him over something that was said three or four years ago, Steve just threw up his arms, walked down the hall into where the bands were playing, and started screaming "Faggots! Everyone here is a faggot!" and then started just pointing at random kids shouting ‘FAGGOT!'"
M.M: The most memorable Middlesex beef I recall involved Pat Tutek stage diving in a fur coat at an Earth Crisis show. For being so confident about causing bloodshed, those OLC guys always seemed kinda defensive, so your story makes sense.
You guys pretty much came up in that early 90s hardcore scene and, like I said, that’s just when I was checking out. Did I actually miss anything good in-between, say Floorpunch and Fucked Up?
As far as awful hardcore, I spent too much time with it before discovering Ash Ra Tempel or whatever. I can say unequivocally that Floorpunch was the best of that bunch, though. I lost interest way before Fucked Up came around, and I think they sound like a more ambitious Andrew WK/Bosstones collaboration.
R.C: I wouldn’t say you missed much, but my opinion doesn’t matter. My passing interest in that stuff ended before Floorpunch even put out that album. Eventually I heard it one time. One time only, that was plenty. You could say that a lot of my weekends during high school were wasted hanging around in fire traps in seedy neighborhoods, waiting to watch some guys with guitars roll up in a van.
Oh yeah, how did you ever rope Meg Baird into playing drums for the band?
M.M: Meg, Richie, and I spent a lot of time drinking beer. At the time we asked her to be in the band, her lack of experience on drums was no greater than our lack of experience on guitars, so it wasn't all that unusual. I think she's really come into her own bashing away and is the absolute best drummer for Watery Love.
R.C.: Meg quit her job a few years ago to start a band with us. I wanted to call us Manson Chicks, but she refused to redirect her life unless we called it Watery Love.
So what is the future of Watery Love?
We’ll likely play some more gigs and maybe complete a few more tunes. We’ve got some ideas, and we’ll get around to working them out when the weather becomes unbearable. There’s a single coming out soon on Negative Guest List, and I’m certain that everyone on Earth will want to hear it.
In conclusion, would you say Watery Love is the best band in Philly right now?
M.M: We're pretty great, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone beyond our immediate circle of friends who would agree with that. Birds of Maya are better for sure.
R.C: There must be a thousand bands in this town, so we can’t possibly be the worst.
On November 14 Watery Love will be playing with Australia’s Total Control at the Little Bar at 736 South 8th Street in Philadelphia (where else?).
Previously – From Our Lips to the Horned One's Ears
- Vice Blog