Young Guns: Warpaint's Theresa Wayman Turns Down, Grunges Up - Rolling Stone
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Warpaint’s Theresa Wayman Turns Down and Grunges Up

Warpaint guitarist dissects her signature style for our Young Guns series

Welcome to Young Guns, our series exploring the most notable guitarists from the next generation of six-string legends. For more interviews with the guitarists inspiring us right now, click here.

WHO: Theresa Wayman plays guitar and sings for Warpaint, a Los Angeles indie rock quartet known for their blurry jams, sultry beats, and cascading layers of noise and melody. But though onstage the four women still deliver forceful guitar statements like “Elephant” and the driving “Composure,” on their current album Warpaint the instrument is less dominant, deeper in the mix. “I wanted to put the guitar down and give it a rest for a minute,” says Wayman, who shares guitar duties with Emily Kokal. “I got sick of fighting for space for the string instruments in our setup.  So I focused on other things. But now I miss it, and I want the next album to really have more guitar.”

SIDE DISHES: Since Warpaint follows the band’s 2010 debut, The Fool, by three years, maybe it’s inevitable that she’d be anxious to stretch out. She has a “half-melodic, half-weird” band side-project with longtime P-Funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell, bassist Mike Watt and drummer Evan Taylor in the works. She’s also planning an all-instrumental “weird wily guitar song album” with Welsh singer-songwriter Kate LeBon, currently touring with Warpaint. “My sound is getting more and more grungy,” Wayman observes. “I want to continue down that road.” 

ROLE MODELS: Jack White lands high on Wayman’s list of guitarists who’ve inspired her. “I love the way he solos,” she says, pointing to the White Stripes’ “Black Math” as a touchstone. “He makes it chunky and stuttery. And you don’t know where it’s going to go next.” Lately, she’s also been listening to a lot of Jimi Hendrix, My Bloody Valentine and especially metal originator Tony Iommi: “He’s so choice. He doesn’t strike me as being overdone ever.” One of her fave solos is Eddie Hazel’s epic 10-minute windout on Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain”: “It’s really intense. It’s a really simple progression that’s going on, and he just starts crying over it.”

WEAPONS OF CHOICE: Wayman keeps her 1966 Fender Mustang plugged into a variety of pedals and boxes to add distortion, reverb, delay, sustain. She also has a 1944 hollow-body Epiphone, and craves a Gibson SG, like the ones Iommi plays. Still, she’s not much for gear chat these days. “There were certain people who wowed me with their knowledge about what pedals this guy was using, and what techniques and music theory and stuff. I would think, ‘Oh, this guy is going to be amazing to play with – look at how much he knows!’ But then I would play with them and I felt like they were just regurgitating all this shit and it wasn’t interesting, and I didn’t feel anything.” Upon joining Warpaint, though, she felt “soul in what they were doing, and it wasn’t derivative of anything.” (Fans can check it out live starting October 2nd, as Warpaint begin a new tour.)

QUIET RIOT: “When you’re playing guitar, you can just enjoy the song and not have to worry about some of the technical things,” Wayman says. “I almost prefer to barely be able to hear it so I have to dig for it, and it makes me play better. If I can hear it really loudly, I tend to shy away. Since I figured that out, I’ve had so much fun playing.”

In This Article: Warpaint


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