War Party // If “Tomorrow’s a Drag”, what was yesterday // 10.31.13

{Updates: https://thewarparty.bandcamp.com/}

Cameron Smith is a grand raconteur, he speaks with purpose and a reverence for language and ideas. Interactions follow the tangents of constant reference. My interest in his band, War Party, dates back to the final West Berry Block Party. Eventually, we would talk for hours over High Life at Magnolia Motor Lounge, covering topics from skate vids’ to strange Hardcore cultural offshoots.

A couple of months later, asked to book a showcase at Lola’s, my first call was to Smith, his Lo-Life Recordings cohorts Doom Ghost and Bitch Bricks filled out the bill. In conjunction with the inaugural show, they invited me to participate in a promo video, as the interrogator in a parody of Tom Snyder’s classic PiL interview. The folks at The Fort Worth Weekly were kind enough to allow us to use their foyer as our improvised set.

Tyler Moore (bass) wrote the script, Peter Marsh (drummer) directed the shoot, and Cameron Smith, Verne Marigold and Bitch Brick Alena Springer spoke in brilliantly broken British accents throughout the afternoon. The following December, back at MML, we had War Party onstage as a part of a Benefit for Norton Records, hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.

At Bearded Lady last summer, I was curious about War Party’s full-length, Tomorrow’s a Drag. Smith sat down with me over beers and beneath an umbrella, obscuring as best it might the magnesium sun at our necks.

The record was produced under continued collaboration with Eagle Audio and Britt Robisheaux, which as Smith explains was a simple choice, “We did the split with Doom Ghost there and Britt really gets what we are doing.” Tomorrow’s A Drag is a an uncompromisingly solid album, each song manifesting its own style within the context of War Party’s sound, “We purposely started this band without a genre, without something we would get stuck in, so we could just write we feel.”

Garage rock fuzz spills and congeals around Smith’s feverish vocal abandon. Not only do they rock, but they swing as they pull from prototypical youth sounds of Punk and Doo Wop. He recites the satirical one-off genres, “Turf Rock, Slack Metal, and of course, we’ve done the Don’t Wop thing on ‘Problem Solver’.” The songs resonate with the gurgling dissatisfaction of our times, saturated gloriously with a rebellious joy – covered in barbed hooks which may never be removed.

Adding depth to the songwriting corps, Williford and Moore contribute lyrics on a pair of gritty rippers, “Death of a Radiator” and “Hamsterdam” respectively. “Radiator” depicts life from the road, perhaps a modern day quintet of Beats in lines like, “I got a song in my head, it keeps me up all night” from (I Get High With A Little Help From My) Fringe.

Photo by Steve Watkins

Photo by Steve Watkins

Expanding the party, they’ve added Spacewolf aka Christopher Walden on trombone, “Instead of Ricky grabbing the trumpet occasionally, we’ve got a sense of permanency with the horns. Whether harmonizing together or just that low end underneath everything.” In addition, Walden has brought out the organ parts Williford’s plays on the album, further filling out the band’s sound.

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