Take twin sisters Nina and Susana Chaplin, who play guitar and bass and sing, add Vanessa Brewster, a drummer who initially thought she was just filling in for a few of the sisters’ shows, fold in youthful exuberance and resilience, and bake in the hot Orlando sun — what do you get? Wet Nurse, a relatively young (formed in 2010) pop sensible garage punk band that’s issuing their full-length debut, Daily Whatever, and hitting Tampa before kicking off a month-long support tour.
Daily Whatever evokes experiences I never enjoyed as a shy, socially anxious and reclusive young woman in my late teens and early 20s, the sort of experiences I imagined kids from Carissa’s Wierd or Bikini Kill having before they took off: late summer nights spent biking to, and then cramming inside, some sketchy dilapidated house on the edge of town, drinking piss-warm beer swiped from a gas station, bobbing and bouncing and sweating with friends as punk bands broke strings and drumsticks and eardrums and ribs. Songs like “Randy Kelly” — which tells a tale of revenge taken out on a jerky bike thief — and “Hey Stranger,” about stalking an old friend (or lover?) at favorite haunts in an attempt to reconnect, emphasize this idea of youth hitting the streets, getting out there and getting into it, making their own lives and adventures, amassing stories and scars (or skinned knees, as per the album cover).
What makes Daily Whatever so universally appealing, even for those of us who’ve never shared any of these sorts of escapades, is the music itself: a blend of punk, beach-party surf and garage pop with ’60s girl-group harmonies that are both familiar and novel. While I hear whispers of Sex Pistols, Dum Dum Girls and Go Sailor influences, Wet Nurse delivers a sound exclusively their own. Nina’s snarling, sneering yet somehow coy vocals (part Brody Dalle, part Tom DeLonge, part Lois Maffeo) partnered with her twangy guitar hooks create the catchy foundation of each song, complemented by Vanessa’s chiming hi-hats and Susana’s buoyant bass lines and angelic harmonies. And the latter is what truly makes Wet Nurse stand apart: the amalgam of Nina’s and Susana’s distinct voices, how they wind together, balance and work off each other. Whether it’s from years of practice or sisters’ intuition, few do call-and-response or girl-on-girl harmonies quite like them. The songs themselves are kinetic bursts, more no-holds-barred sprints than paced marathons: no single number on Daily Whatever reaches the three-minute mark; the opener and an album highlight, “Life & Death,” clocks in at 55 seconds. Such speed sometimes causes a loss of intelligibility, and my only complaint about this record is that, at times, the lyrics pass so quickly they get blurred out or lost in translation.
Overall, Daily Whatever proves a striking debut full-length, perfect for the adventurous, or for anyone who just wants to be.
Critic’s rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Wet Nurse plays a free show at The Hub in Tampa on Sat., Aug. 25, at 9 p.m., to celebrate the album’s release; Jensen Serf Co. opens. Check out my Q&A with Wet Nurse below.
Who are your influences, musical and otherwise?
Vanessa: Under the influences! Everything from modern stuff like Tacocat and Mean Jeans to the Go Gos, Blondie, Marshall Crenshaw…
Susana: More so inspiration than influences for me is being sad after getting drunk.
What is the songwriting process like? What do you consider to be the most important part of a song? Or what makes a song a "Wet Nurse" song?
Nina: The most important part is the hooks. I guess the lyrics and the harmonies make a Wet Nurse song.
Vanessa: We all bring parts to the table when we write songs. It starts with someone’s idea, whether it be a guitar part or a melody, and we “meow” the lyric syllables as we figure out the music.
What were your goals going into the making of Daily Whatever? Did you have any particular inspirations or themes you made a point of addressing? Did you record more songs than what are being released on the album? If so, how did you pick what to keep or cut?
Susana: Just wanted to make a 12", go on tour and maybe get a bigger national reach. We've got some apology songs, some goodbye songs, some party anthems…
Vanessa: Yeah all the songs are pretty much reflected in the name of the LP - Daily Whatever. All of us deal with so many things on a regular basis, a job, a relationship, whatever. Just taking it day by day. We did record additional songs to use as bonus tracks. One was actually on the "final" tracklist for the record up until the twins had a change of heart and we went back in the studio to record another song.
What was the recording process like? Where did you record? How much do you add/change in the studio?
Vanessa: Long! We recorded in Tampa at WMNF with Alastair St. Hill, after hours, and we recorded the bulk of the record in two nights. We went back a few weeks later to do some overdubs and record an additional song. We didn’t change much; I think on a few songs we changed up the structure a bit. Usually when we write new stuff we play it live right away and test it out, but we wanted to save these for closer to the record release.
Who is putting out the album? When is the official release date? Where/how can we get copies?
Vanessa: Astro Girl Records from Italy is releasing the 12" vinyl, and Protagonist Music from Arizona is doing a special cassette release for us. We just approved the test pressings so we’re just waiting on a final production timeline before we set the date. We've got release parties across Florida starting August 18, so hopefully by then. Copies are available for pre-order on our IndieGoGo tour fundraiser page, or they will be available on the Astro Girl site soon.
Whose bruised knees are on the cover?
Nina: Anyone that's ever fallen off their bicycle.
Vanessa: She'd like to remain anonymous. Until she blurts it out later down the line.
You're heading out on a month-long tour — what do you expect this tour will be like? Are you going anywhere you haven't been before? What are you most looking forward to seeing? What keeps you sane while on the road?
Vanessa: This is our first tour of this length. We toured Florida cities for two weeks last summer and it was a blast. These will be our first out-of-state shows.
Susana: Tour will be a mixture of things. It's exciting but kinda scary! New cities. We’ll be away from home on our birthday for the first time —
Vanessa: The twins' birthday is September 14th and that show is in Boston.
Susana: Pretty stoked. My first big tour.
Nina: What do I expect it to be like? 20 percent music. 80 percent party.
Susana: Yeah! Most looking forward to seeing NYC and other famous cities. All the different cultures and stuff.
Nina: Excited for Philly ‘cause all our friends are there. Several of them have moved from Orlando recently.
Susana: Netflix keeps us sane on the road. Also, talking to friends and looking forward to the next city.
Nina: Sing-alongs in the car.
Anything else you'd like to talk about?
Susana: Party in the USA!
Tyler- I can't believe how talented of a writer you are. This article was beautifully…
Great interview! Give the interviewer a full time job! He's great!
The DJ was actually The Castle's very own DJ Tom Gold :)
Fabulous review Gabe! Too bad I missed it.