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Incubated over almost seven years together, Warpaint’s sound is certainly not one of easy verse/chorus repetition – indeed, it takes a good few listens to fathom its shifting rhythms, ethereal melodies and dissonant tones. “We all have stuff we’re figuring out about life, you know? “Shadows, which I wrote, is about Los Angeles and feeling closed in by it.
A lot of negative things started happening – muggings and shootings.
But the theatre in New York is unusually full when the young Californians materialise beneath hazy stage lighting and begin to weave their peculiar magic.
Dressed in cut-off denim skirts and jeans, Warpaint is anything but the prefabricated, Blondie-apeing punk-pop group one might expect: the music is exploratory and often inconclusive – hardly tailored for mass consumption.
“Theresa and I met when we were 11 in choir practice,” Kokal says.
“We used to sing together when we’d walk to school. We travelled to south-east Asia, Europe and eventually drove cross-country to live in Los Angeles.” Sossamon, meanwhile, had moved to LA from Reno, Nevada, to get into movie acting.
When I speak to the four of them on their tour bus, it becomes very clear that the band has a remarkable chemistry.
“That seems to be what we instinctively used music for – a cathartic experience, getting something out.” During the band’s infancy, Kokal started her relationship with Frusciante, who, she says, helped her develop musically and who ended up mixing Warpaint’s debut EP, 2008’s Exquisite Corpse.Their drifting, structurally restless songs have strong echoes of punk-era artists such as the Slits, Talking Heads, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and of Joni Mitchell-esque keening folk.Yet there is also a sense of improvisation and limitlessness about them which calls to mind Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, or early Verve.Within a couple of months of her arrival, they’d recorded their first album, The Fool, and the buzz began to spread.Now all in their late twenties, they speak slightly coolly about Sossamon, Ledger, and Kokal’s relationship with one of America’s last great guitar heroes.