“When we were at Bloodstock I think we found the purest demonstration of our demographic. It was a guy with a bald head, a beard, camo shorts, and a Britney shirt.”
Electro-punx Wargasm celebrate the return of live music with a combustible set on the Reading Lock-Up stage and a natter about all things pop stars, primal fun, and ‘Salma Hayek’.
Though their music is a riotous nu-metal-infused beast, a wholesome companionship underpins London-based duo Wargasm. “You earned your stripes while gigging and I helped you to not be awkward in front of a camera,” Milkie Way smiles at her guitarist and long-term mate, Sam Matlock. The pair are perched on a rather precarious bench backstage at Reading Festival, joy at being back where they belong radiating from every pore: “We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for each other.”
Both members have been part of more previous projects than they can recall, not all of them musical, but Wargasm feels like the one that fits both of them best. “The transition from modelling to playing music was a surprisingly painless one,” Milkie muses. Her earlier years were spent walking for British Vogue alongside stars like Cara Delevingne but she knew the future was musical: “I’d played bass in my bedroom for a really long time so I felt like it was only the natural transition that I’d play in a band.”
“If you like pop and metal, you’re probably going to like us.”
Growing up on the Isle of Wight with a music publicist for a mother before hot-footing to London, Matlock reflects on a more industry-savvy upbringing. “Not too big Milkie up too much but that is the weirdest thing about working with her. I come from a school of musicianship where you start out when you’re fourteen playing at the youth club and just keep on going until you can pay your rent. It’s a real fucking graft.” He smirks at his bandmate, “you just went “wohaaaay, main stage Download!” He unleashes an infectious Cockney cackle before composing himself somewhat: “Maybe that’s where the strength of the project lies though. Maybe the Venn diagram between myself and Milkie is naivety and excitement mixed with a kind of jadedness and persistence that comes from experience.” From his mathematical hypothesis, it sounds like the pair balance each other out, but Matlock reassures that’s far from the case. “We’re like fire meets acetone peroxide,” he laughs, tugging at his bleached locks, “but somehow it works.”
Bonding over a love of cock rock, cyber pop, and wanting to cause the same amount of chaos that comes from playing Limp Bizkit at 3am at a house party, they fell into each others’ lives at a point where they had already found themselves independently of one another. “We spent a year before we launched getting to know each other and making sure we had everything in place — thinking about how we’d want to present it visually as well as sonically,” Milkie explains. “Having that base-level, where we were both known quantities to each other, made things so much easier. So anything we built on from there was exciting and interesting and fresh.”
“If you like the headliners then it doesn’t fucking matter if they have a guitar or not. No one gives a shit.”
The duo’s sound is an appropriately beguiling cocktail. “If you like pop and metal, you’re probably going to like us,” she chuckles, “because that’s exactly what we bring to the table.” Even as that table became a literal one and the band were forced to swap festival slots for precariously balanced laptop Zoom sessions, they continued to crank out insatiable singles like Salma Hayek. Bold, brash, and most importantly genre-defying, it whittles the boldest features of metal, punk, rap, dubstep, and pop into a perfectly anarchic concoction and the band’s self-dubbed “hot girl summer song.” “It’s the perfect mixture of our personalities,” Matlock smiles. “I feel like if you were to reduce me to a waveform, it would probably be a Trivium track. If you were to reduce Milkie to a waveform, it’d be like Britney or Ashley Tisdale.”
The pixie-cut singer contemplates aloud before settling instead for Fergie: “My God, I wish she would headline Reading next year. We wouldn’t be Wargasm without a splash of noughties hip-pop.” She erupts into giggles at the thought but with the festival’s relative departure from its rock roots, it isn’t an impossibility. Her bandmate’s thoughts on the matter are similarly congenial: “If you like the headliners then it doesn’t fucking matter if they have a guitar or not. No one gives a shit.”
“Calling on camaraderie and chaos in equal measure, the pair are a highly combustible masterclass in modern-day metal.”
Hoisting the rock flag nevertheless, the band sits on a stacked Lock-Up Stage line-up alongside Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes, Bad Nerves, Ashnikko, and YONAKA. “Don’t forget Nova Twins who we’re missing right now,” Milkie flashes me a toothy grin. The band might be fiercely averse to any kind of sonic rulebook but their passion for the heavy scene is palpable. “Are you going to be writing this up?” Matlock inquires, “because you should definitely shout out a few of these bands I’m about to mention.”
“There’s this artist called Bambie Thug,” he gushes, “I have no idea how much of what’s on my phone is released but they are incredible. We also have mates in a nu-metal band called Death Blooms and there’s a collaboration coming…” He looks to Milkie who concludes with an eager smirk: “Imminently.” Watching the pair ricochet off one another, it’s no wonder their sound is so gloriously fluid. Calling on camaraderie and chaos in equal measure, it is a highly combustible (no seriously, keep these guys away from exposed flames) masterclass in modern-day metal. Milkie might hail from middle-of-nowhere Ireland and Matlock from the Southern Isles but in Wargasm they are on one page and it’s impossible not to want to read on.