INTERVIEW: Wax Heart Sodality | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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There is power in anonymity. Many use a cloak of secrecy to further a hidden agenda, but some – like the masked crusaders of graphic novels – use it for good. Teesside’s Wax Heart Sodality are firmly in the latter camp.

Emerging late last year with a distinct garage rock sound, rich baritone vocals and lyrical themes which highlight society’s ills while also seeking to question the status quo, the band have remained cloaked in anonymity; something they deem necessary in getting their messages out there. “Anonymity is key because physical identifiers can weigh people down and act as a barrier or deterrent to getting where you need to go and, from a creative point of view, it can interfere with how others perceive the work you are trying to put out there.” They explain. “By wearing the masks we’re nullifying prejudice and expectation, allowing audiences to focus on our work and forcing us to use movement or musical intensity to compensate for a lack of face. Plus, masks look nice and we enjoy making them and matching them with clothes to create different looks.”

The band explain that their primary focus is to “try and elevate those lost and in despair, in contrast to other sections of society that purvey seductive, yet irrational attitudes and beliefs to those who want to belong, leading people down a much murkier life path.”

If this is all coming off a bit ‘caped crusaders wage war against social injustice’ it’s not intentional; behind the glittery masks and Goth exteriors lay a group of musicians with a serious determination to create absorbing and thought-provoking music. Their output to date has dealt with subject matter which ranges from, in Hoodwinked, the perils of mainstream media and intellectual elitism, all wrapped up in an undeniably catchy refrain of frenzied, grungy guitar work and unhinged vocals; and on debut release Alphas, the conflicting personality traits of ‘generation Alpha’ amidst unceasingly intense garage rock. “The lyrics toy with various buzzwords, concepts, trends, etc. that filter into the mainstream culture and social media. New meaning is then extracted from them and dressed up in vague language until that meaning becomes accessible to the point of dilution. I guess that means there are elements of postmodernism in there but that would only be as a by-product of the songwriting process.” They explain. “The tone of the music suggests darkness and despair but within the lyrics lie more questions than answers. Where we do provide opinion we usually follow it up with doubt, a feeling underutilised and one of the biggest instigators of progress. The lyrics are purposefully quite generic and ambiguous, in terms of the language used, so that songs can still be enjoyed for standard entertainment purposes (which we see as our primary goal as a band – entertainment value should not be underestimated) or so that they can be interpreted and meaning can be harvested/easily digested for those who want to dig a little deeper. Thinking about it, I guess you could say that, like us, the songs themselves wear masks…

The band’s social commentary is ultimately rooted in disabusing their listener of the notion that they are simply passive consumers

Latest single Incel-Dumb Scene Kid lays out its intentions more firmly; the opening is as close to a ballad as WHS are likely to get, the deceptively gentle beginning and wistful lyrics soon take a more typical dark turn, as the now trademark baritone vocal howls give way to an ominous Gothic blues and intense garage rock sound that the band are becoming increasingly respected for. It’s a song which offers more on every listen; from the exciting crescendo to the multi-layered lyricism and instrumentation which turns from upbeat to creepy in the flick of a guitar pick. “We were fascinated at how the internet is an excellent tool for creating fanatics to the point where it can even radicalise hopeless romantics into a disturbing underground mob that bully, intimidate and even kill. It’s terrifying but turning the blame away from the individual and aggressively focusing it elsewhere is commonplace in modern political discourse. Don’t believe us? Then switch on the TV.”

The band’s social commentary is ultimately rooted in disabusing their listener of the notion that they are simply passive consumers. Within the tropes they use – from the often ambiguous nature of their lyrics to their own anonymity – they urge their audience to question, to come together, to create. Creativity, in fact, is at the very heart of what they do and, in these most disturbing of times when imagination and innovation can be impeded, they’re the band we sorely need. “Be creative and forward-looking and bathe in the positivity that it brings.” They urge. “Do not indulge in the destructive nature of this potent brand of extreme nostalgia and regression that has become so on-trend right now, it stagnates the spirit and putrefies the heart.”

When asked how they intend to inspire their listeners to feel hopeful about the future, their message is simple. “The fact we exist could potentially inspire our listeners. It suggests that life can turn on a sixpence. That one minute, you can be an old, bloated, worn down wreck with the best days behind you and then the next you slip on a mask and some jazzy fineries from ASOS’ bargain basement and become a rejuvenated frontman of a garage rock band.”

Wax Heart Sodality release Incel-Dumb Scene Kid on 29th May

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