Mitropa, Mitropa

26 May

The new Wasp Summer album cometh

In February, Simon and I started recording the second Wasp Summer album. In previous letters, you read about Wasp Summer’s history, so you know that this is our first album as a band. The name Mitropa comes from a railway company that ran sleeping and dining cars across Central Europe from 1916-1994.

The new songs are muscular and outward-looking. Living and touring in Mitteleuropa has definitely influenced the themes and the tempo of the songs. Imagine long journeys through the night between one mysterious metropolis and another. That’s what this album will sound like.

We recorded over three days at Pebble Music’s studio in the old DDR Rundfunk Buildings in Köpenick, working with drummer Romain who plays with Elyas Khan and the 17 Hippies.

Go here to Soundcloud if you want an idea of what the new songs sound like.

See you at a show. If you want to chat, Wasp Summer is on Twitter or Facebook.
Cheers,
Samantha

How my old band broke major Australian political news

12 May

If you subscribe to the Wasp Summer newsletter, you would have read about how my old band, the Mime Set, broke up on tour. In November 2014, I was flown back to Australia for an unlikely reunion.

If you want to subscribe to the Wasp Summer newsletter, you’ll get more bizarre and hilarious stories like the one I’m about to tell you, plus playlists, downloads, special offers and tour news every fortnight.
Newsletter link: http://eepurl.com/rO3db

Australian literary journal Going Down Swinging received a grant for their One Night Wonders concert series and their editor Geoff Lemon asked Sean M Whelan and The Mime Set, my old band’s spoken word project, to reform for the final show of the series. You can read an article I wrote on the reformation here.

When I arrived, I played 5 Wasp Summer shows in 6 days, then after just two rehearsals, Sean M. Whelan and The Mime Set were into the poetry shows.

On the Friday, we played to a full house at the Mission to Seamen in Melbourne. Even in rehearsal, I hadn’t remembered how intense the band could be in full flight. It was a glorious show, recorded for posterity.

Saturday, we drove 8 hours to Australia’s capital, Canberra. Sadly, they’ve now taken down the world’s best road sign just outside of Yass. We checked into our 5 star hotel to find ourselves booked into three rooms… two bandmembers to a bed. Seeing my surprise, the receptionist said, “Maybe you love your band but you probably don’t “LOVE” them, right?” We got better rooms.

Sunday morning, I got gastroenteritis and a fever. We had a 4pm show in the hotel bar. I slept until the show and emerged, weak and sweating, at 3pm to find Clive Palmer, one of Australia’s most controversial politicians, taking meetings in the bar and watching our soundcheck. The show was hazy and psychedelic. The music sounded amazing, textured, electric. I was singing ‘Honey O’, an epic ballad, and threw my hand forward. As I opened my eyes, Clive Palmer was walking directly towards me. “Honey, I can’t, honey, honey I can’t feel you…” I sang. Our eyes slid awkwardly apart as he left the bar.

Sean M. Whelan & Clive PalmerThat’s poet Sean Whelan in the foreground and Clive Palmer in the back. After the show, I went back to bed to sweat out my fever in high thread-count sheets. During the post-show drinks, several of the band noticed Clive Palmer speaking with Jacquie Lambie, the Tasmanian Senator who very angrily and publicly split from Palmer’s party. They took a sneaky photo and posted it on social media. Next day, the photo was front page news in Australia. Our band broke the story of their meeting.

2 rehearsals, 2 shows, 16 hours driving, 1 national headline. We laughed all the way back to Melbourne.

Cheers,
Sam

Under The Influence

28 Apr

Apart from buying us drinks, music is the best way to know musicians, so here are some albums that are important to us as musicians and people.

To make it easy to share, we’ve posted these lists on YouTube and Spotify. If you’d prefer these lists in another format, or on another service, just leave us a message below, and we’ll try to arrange it.

Simon and I each have a story about an album that was crucial to us starting our first bands.

Simon’s Influences
YouTube Playlist
Spotify Playlist
I met a friend of mine and started a band because I was the only person in the area with a Black Flag LP. I can remember our first gig when we were just 15; the local gang grabbed the lead singer and told him ‘If you guys suck, we’re gunna punch the shit out of ya!’ We knew three songs. We played them three times. Nobody seemed to mind. We didn’t get beaten up. The kids at that party were throwing flagstones at the cops as we loaded out into my Mum’s car. At the next gig, someone turned up the RHCP’s ‘BloodSugarSexMagic’ record to try and drown us out. Then they started throwing stones at us.

The guitar player, Paul Dempsey, went on to found (successful Australian rock band) Something For Kate. People don’t throw stones at him anymore. Except me. I chuck a good sized rock at that lanky motherfucker every chance I get. Just to remind him of his roots and that good rock and roll never comes easy.

Samantha’s Influences
Youtube Playlist
Spotify Playlist
The albums that made me want to be in a band were Transvision Vamp’s Pop Art and Faith No More’s The Real Thing. At my school, there were two types of popular girl: surfer’s girlfriends and rough netballers. Two of the latter knocked on my door one afternoon. I was worried. “We heard you got that Faith No More album.” “Er… The Real Thing. Yes.” I was confused.

“Make us a copy?” one said, handing me a blank cassette. Before this, being a music nerd had only won me insults and my circle of metalhead friends. I could do this and might not get beaten up either. I’d been into the band for a year, but then in mid-1990, ‘Epic’ was number 1 in Australia. As I only had a simple cassette deck, we listened to the whole album as I dubbed it, with me pointing out the cool bits. “What’s this classical shit?” Weirdly, they’d never noticed the piano outro at the end of ‘Epic’. They nearly left. “Nah,” I corrected, “It’s where the goldfish is dying at the end of the video.” “Oh, alright,” they said, and stayed patiently until their cassette was finished.

If you sign up for our newsletter, Simon and I will tell you about our first attempts at songwriting. Sign up for the newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/rO3db

Bis gleich,
Samantha and Simon
Wasp Summer

Busking Stories

14 Apr

I’ve been paid in insults, drugs and sometimes even money.

Busking Stories
Concerts

Busking Stories
He passed Lena to stand directly in front of me. He leaned down into my face, hissed “Schhhhlamppppe!’, then firmly poked his tongue out at me and stomped away.

Lena, my jazz singer friend, and I were busking at Hallesches Tor. I slowly turned to Lena, “He just called me a smurf and stuck his tongue out!”
“Oh no, honey,” she said, “He didn’t call you a smurf. That’s ‘Schlumpf’. He called you a slut.” Our howling laughter ricocheted around the tunnel.

Lena Tjäder and Sam WareingHallesches Tor, a Berlin U-Bahn station, has a long tunnel connecting the U1 and U6. Buskers with station permits prefer stations where lines cross because the long tunnels have great acoustics. People hear you long before they see you which makes you money.

It’s fascinating people-watching: old Berliners, hipsters, immigrant families, punks, street people, kids, yuppies and tourists. A cheerful psychedelic man squatted next to us. “Mädels! Sounds great! I got no money, but I want you to have these…,” and dropped two tabs of acid next to the coins in our guitar case. I’ve also been “paid” with hash, booze, joints, promises of work and business cards with private numbers.

At Stadtmitte, an old man wanted our spot. His busking tactic was to jig next to us, blowing on a harmonica and holding out his dirty hat to reveal a seeping head wound under old bandages. He won.

We busked for a year in the U-Bahn, 4-6 hours at a time. That’s how I learned guitar in public. We found friends, gigs and fans, and sold CDs. We featured in the children’s magazine Geolino Extra, and played live on Radio Eins promoting a photography exhibition on street musicians. It always paid for coffee and hot meals and showed us a lot of Berlin life.

Concerts
You can find any upcoming concerts on our Facebook page here. If you don’t have facebook, you can check the Concerts page here on our website here or go to our feed on Twitter.

Cheers,
Samantha Wasp Summer

Gallery

Hit The Road, Wasp!

24 Feb

To quote great Australian songwriter Don Walker, “I measure my position to the obstacles we crossed, the territory covered and the parties that we lost. Those were the days.”

Here is a small selection of photos from 10 different countries and 5 different tours, both solo and with Sean M. Whelan & The Mime Set, Water Music, Remarkable Shipwrecks and Lady Danger.

I think the photos show that, more than the shows themselves, touring is about the people you’re with, the fun you make and the amount of crap you have to carry.

Wasp Summer Australian Tour Gallery Part 2

23 Jan

Hallo Dearhearts,

Here is part 2 of Wasp Summer’s Australian Tour gallery, spanning Melbourne to Brisbane to Meredith Music Festival. In these photos, I had a magic time with the following amazing people: Damian, SJ, Ari, Cam, Tams, Sally, Chez, Naz, Phil, Nicho, Bek, Patrick and Lisa. x

Gallery

Wasp Summer Australian Tour Gallery Part 1

2 Dec

Wasp Summer Australian Shows 2014

9 Oct Wasp Summer tour poster 2014. Coming to a club near you!

Earlier this year, I got an email out of the blue from Geoff, the Editor of Going Down Swinging, the long-running and innovative Australian journal of poetry, writing, graphic novels and art.

He requested that, for one night, we reform Sean M. Whelan and The Mime Set, the 2005-2008 collaboration between my former post-rock band and one of Australia’s best spoken word performers. They had funding to fly me back to Melbourne from Berlin for the show. I actually cried.

So, Sean M. Whelan and The Mime Set will perform their One Night Wonder on Friday 28 November, 2014 at the Mission To Seafarers Chapel in Docklands, Melbourne. Click here for tickets. We’ve also picked up a Canberra show on Sunday 30 November, for the Bloody Lips night held at New Acton.

Sean M. Whelan & The Mime Set
Friday 28. November – Mission to Seafarers, Melbourne
Saturday 29. November – Bloody Lips @ New Acton, Canberra

And while I’m in the country, why not show people what Wasp Summer’s been working on in Berlin? So I’m organising solo Wasp Summer gigs in Victoria and Queensland. Here are the confirmed dates.

Wasp Summer
Thursday 20. November – The Old Bar, Fitzroy, Melbourne
Friday 21. November – The Eastern, Ballarat
Saturday 22. November – The Bridge, Castlemaine
Friday 5. December – Couplet @ Brisbane Square Library, Brisbane
Wednesday 10 December – Skukum Lounge, Brisbane

Aside

Album review by Slapped For The Very First Time

7 Oct

Slapped For The Very First Time posted an unexpected and really lovely and review of the first Wasp Summer record, Close As A Slow Dance. Thank you, Espen. “…there is a voice – both literally and musically – shining through that seems capable of winning you over with an even more distinct identity of its own come the next release.”

http://slappedfortheveryfirsttime.blogspot.no/2014/10/06102014-wasp-summer-close-as-slow-dance.html

Last Berlin shows for 2014

1 Oct

Wasp Summer by Kate Seabrook

Wasp Summer has three gigs Berlin gigs coming up in October and November, the last before the Wasp Summer Australian shows.

Sunday 19 October at 14:00, Sam is doing a solo show at Donau 115‘s Donaufrühstück, If you’re Sunday Mornin’ Coming Down, this concert series presented by Cow Hearts and curated by the amazing Emperor X is for you.

Friday 31 October at 21:00, Sam and Simon are playing a Wasp Summer duo Halloween special at Moabit’s best Musik Lokal, Kallasch &.

Thursday 6 November at 21:00, Wasp Summer present their first full-band show with new drummer Ben Johnson (that’s him on the right above ^^) in a live recording at Culture Container.

This excellent band photo, in Ben’s rehearsal space, was taken by Kate Seabrook Photographer.