Earlier this week I found myself having a little nostalgic moment listening to the awesome dirty rock-meets-electro sound of Primal Scream’s XTRMNTR album. Coincidentally, later that day I came across the sound of Brighton electro rockers (IAM)WARFACE, whose music evoked similar feelings.
As far as intriguing cross-genre combinations go their fusion of dirty guitar riffs with electronic synths and catchy, almost poppy 80s style vocals is right up there. It’s nothing like any band I’ve written about on the site, while frontman Matt Warneford’s summary of their sound as “dirty sexy rocktronica” piques my interest even further.
The quintet, completed by Louis Matthews, Mike Smith, Adam Stanley and Tom Howe, formed in Brighton back in 2016 under a moniker that acted as a metaphor for their trademark high-energy music. Matt tells us it all began after his previous band folded and he went it alone to create music to his liking.
He explains: “I’m not classically trained so I pretty much make it up as I go and do everything by ear. So after creating this thing I realised that I needed a band to play live so it’s taken a while to get the right people involved but now I’m very happy with who I’m working with. Louis, Mike, Tom, Adam are I are all like brothers, we have a fantastic camaraderie together and we all are very focused on the music.”
They released latest single You Don’t Love Me Anymore in February, which is impressively nearing 7,000 views on YouTube. It opens up with a cool little guitar riff with fuzzy backing guitars then drops into a catchy verse that picks up in pace when the line “You never did get my buzz” sees a guitar riff kick in. And it explodes into life with a big chorus of powerful vocals “Who you were right, You don’t love me anymore” over driving riffs and drums and deep, layered backing instruments. Check it out in the video below:
On the track, Matt told us: “I’d say it’s basically a hard hitting and pounding pop song with gnarly guitars that compliment the electronica synths. Kinda like Muse but dirtier.”
But previous single Say My Name is where my Primal Scream vibes came from. It opens up with a cool little darting riff then kicks into a fuzzy rockier intro, then distant, echoey vocals come in followed by funky, effects-ridden wails. Mid-way through everything drops out bar a repeating riff and big pounding drums, which continue as a big synth solo jumps over the top then gives way to a catchy final chorus. Check it out in the video below:
There’s a whole host of elements to the (IAM)WARFACE sound, from rock and electro-pop through to electronica and drum’n’bass, which comes across in the more dancey remix of the most recent single.
And on what inspires him to write, Matt tells us: “A lot of my influences come purely from passion and frustration. I love to make music that excites me first and foremost but I’m also a huge classical and movie soundtrack fan so I’m always trying to squeeze in epic production values and big sounds when I can. I kind of let the songs write themselves but sometimes I hit a brick wall, so I’ve got a huge backlog of tunes waiting for the right moment for me to revisit and finish.
“Most of the time I write lyrics about my feelings of frustration and love. I think that’s pretty much what every musician writes about. Occasionally I’ll write about an imaginary scenario, normally with a sci-fi flavour. I love me a good sci-fi film. And dreams also influence me. The track To Die For actually came about in a dream I had. That was a good dream.”
There’s new music coming soon in the form of latest single Closer, which Matt promises us is worth the wait. He said: “This song is going to knock your socks off. We’re just waiting until the accompanying video is finished and ready to go then we’ll release it. We’ll probably release a couple more singles in the next few months and then the album, which hopefully will be complete by our tour in September. I’m very excited for people to hear it, it’s been three years in the making.”
Furthermore, Matt’s musical escapades aren’t restricted to (IAM)WARFACE, as he explains: “I’m also working with my manager and fellow musician Hannah Clive on various tracks. She has an incredible talent and I’ve discovered that my production goes really well with her songs. The tracks we’re working on have a real James Bond flavour to them, but with the distinctive (IAM)WARFACE sound. Imagine John Barry and Shirley Bassey getting into bed with a sexy robot from the future. Again, I can’t wait for people to hear what we’re doing.
The band have several gigs coming up, kicking off with The Brighton Electric on 11 May, then playing at Hawley Arms for Camden Rocks Festival on 2 June, a couple of festivals in July followed by a yet to be confirmed tour in September. More info on all their gigs is here.