A Wilhelm Scream

By Andy

“Hey man, try one of these little orange things here, they’re delicious.” Nuno Pereira, vocalist of A Wilhelm Scream offers a tangerine to bassist Curtiss Lopez, who takes the fruit and starts peeling it absent-mindedly. “And if you get it right,” continues Pereira, “you can get the skin off in one go.” His face broadens the smile that has been permanent through soundcheck (despite exploding guitar amps a-plenty) and this interview, and which continues throughout the whole of AWS’s incendiary set that night at London’s Mean Fiddler. It’s fair to say that he’s one happy guy, and without wishing to state the obvious, he’s got good reason to be.

A Wilhelm Scream signed to Nitro in 2004 and promptly released ‘Mute Print’, a staggeringly brilliant collection of songs that won them critical acclaim from across the board, not to mention a legion of adoring fans. Leaving their laurels distinctly free of buttock-marks, they finished 2005 with the gutbusting ‘Ruiner‘, which made the Record of the Year polls in every publication worth reading. Such productivity is rare in a scene when the biggest icons of punk release one album every three years to huge fanfare before hiding away while their loyal fans realise that all promises of returning to former glories were worthless. A Wilhelm Scream are thrilling in that they seem to be bucking this trend, by releasing two albums in little over eighteen months, both of which are utterly stunning. And yet they’d never come to the UK before. “A lot of it has to do with being able to afford a trip like this,” says Nuno. “It wasn’t really until we laid the groundwork with ‘Mute Print’ that it became clear that we’d be able to have a show or two.” “You make money, but you need so much to get there. Plane tickets, equipment, all of that,” adds Curtiss, before sheepishly offering an apology to the numerous fans of the band that are only just getting the chance to watch the newest idols perform.

Even with such a swift rise into the public eye (relatively speaking, of course), it’s not as if AWS woke up one morning and found that their people had been talking to Sony’s people and done a mutually beneficial deal, darling. They’re been touring the States almost non-stop for the past two years, and are only now seeing the results of their labour. “From our angle, noting would be different if we were on a different label. We’d still be busting our asses every day, we’d still be playing the same shows.” Nuno is equally forthright on how they got to where they are now. “We’re laying down the groundwork for hopefully many more tours. A year and a half ago this was impossible, and I think we’re planning on coming back in April and spending a bit more time over here. We got a lot of emails from people that are pretty pissed off! But over here, when ‘Mute Print’ came out we didn’t have a European release for it, yet we were getting a lot of positive feedback from here. We didn’t know how it was happening except through word of mouth and people sharing our music, and lo and behold we’re here a year and a half later.” And it’s not as if the hard work, long drives (the next day they pile into a green Mercedes Sprinter and head to Belgium) and months away from home bother him: “We make little homes all over the place, little places where it’s awesome to go. We’ve made a lot of friends as we’ve toured so much. We’re kinda like journeymen, we travel around, we’re not superstars.” And managing all this without pandering to whatever bandwagon happens to be trundling around the corner is nothing short of amazing, since anyone that has ever dealt with AWS knows that there are no piles of cheesy promo shots or hyperbole-laden press releases to wade through. The music is everything – “In so far as the ‘scene’ goes, fuck it, that’s nothing to do with me,” spits Pereira. “That’s just a bunch of sixteen year-old kids that dress a certain way, that’s nothing to do with me.”

Another reason for AWS’s success is the fact that they aren’t an easily digestible band. Their music is literally bursting with invention, and the lyrics are anything but obvious. Trevor Reilly, one half of AWS’s twin guitar assault, writes “the lion’s share of the lyrics” according to Pereira, a subject that regularly crops up in interviews. “It is something that comes up now and then,” notes Curtiss. “I find it a huge honour singing Trevor’s lyrics because he’s one of the best songwriters I’ve ever known,” gushes Nuno, before grinning “I used to do a lot of theatre, so I’d liken it to that. It’s fun as fuck, too.” Trevor chips in. “It’s always got to hit me when I’m writing, on different levels. Not just funny wordplay, there’s a very Paul Westerberg thing which I take from, which is taking clichés and inverting them. But if you keep doing that then you get a bunch of shitty songs that no one cares about and that are good for one listen.” He won’t be drawn on his writing process any further than to say “I write words and music at the same time, it’s the only way I can do it.”

Even though A Wilhelm Scream‘s stay in this country was notably shorter than a single Test Match, they left an indelible mark on those that were lucky enough to watch them rip London a new arsehole. We need more bands like AWS, bands that don’t ride on any waves of publicity or catchy marketing ploys, but that work hard at crafting exciting, visceral music. Their return can’t come soon enough.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]